Defusing Kansas City’s $800 million stink bomb

stinkThe fierce battle over what to include in Kansas City’s potential $800 million infrastructure bond plan is in its final day.

So who’s going to win by Thursday’s deadline to put something on the April ballot?

Mayor Sly James and his cadre of council supporters who favor a balanced approach to improving streets, sidewalks and public buildings plus boosting flood control?

Or will it be council members Katheryn Shields and Quinton Lucas, backed by road-pushing contractors with dollar signs in their eyes, courtesy of taxpayers?

Or, will a last-minute compromise occur to defuse what’s become a big stink bomb at City Hall and make a property tax increase rising over the next 20 years palatable for voters to consider?

Mayor Sly James.

Mayor Sly James.

Let’s face it: Most Kansas Citians don’t know and don’t care that elected officials are feuding privately and publicly as they try to hustle through a proposal. People have plenty else on their minds, starting with the harsh reality that Donald Trump is set to become president on Friday.

This general ignorance is positive news for the council — at least if the members get their act together and make a deal by Thursday afternoon. All of this political infighting likely won’t matter much when the campaign gets revved up and far more Kansas Citians pay attention to what’s in the package.

If the popular mayor is campaigning for it, if most of the council is on board, if a competent series of ads is ready — those factors will make it at least possible to pass the tax increase. (As I’ve already noted, if James comes out against any plan on the ballot, it’s DOA with voters.)

However, it’s also possible that no compromise will be reached. That’s not the end of the world.

At the least, it would delay City Hall coming back for at least a year with another large infrastructure package.

The people pushing more sidewalks would have additional time to get their views heard at City Hall. The new, promised animal shelter would be delayed, but it’s been in bad shape for many years. Matching federal flood control funds would still be around.

James and the council face a daunting  task of getting 57.1 percent approval for anything they place on the April ballot. It would be great to put forward a solid plan with strong council support.

But if that’s not possible, just wait until next year.