LIBERTY, Mo. — As the Kansas City Royals wrap up a long season with a three game series hosting the New York Yankees, one county’s plan to attract a new stadium is thrown a curve ball. A technicality in Missouri law.
Jackson and Clay counties are still vying for a chance to build a new stadium for the team — in downtown Kansas City or North Kansas City.
But FOX4 is learning about a new challenge to the Clay County Commission’s effort to bring the team north of the river, one that could have voters deciding on the issue more than once.
That could be the case if the Kansas City Royals select the North Kansas City site to build their new stadium and not the one in the East Village of Kansas City, Missouri and Jackson County.
Clay County Auditor Victor Hurlbert knows about the sales taxes that can be imposed by counties.
“It’s in Missouri Statue 67.547, Section 3.”
Part of that section reads, “The sales tax may be imposed at a rate of one-eighth of one percent, one-fourth of one percent, three-eighths of one percent, or one-half of one percent on the receipts from the sale at retail of all tangible personal property.”
The highest level a county can ask for on one ballot question is one-half of one percent, so if the Royals wanted more than a one-half cent sales tax to move north to Clay County, voters would need to approve two separate ballot questions.
“Look, if it’s all part of one package, I think the voters could understand that, that this is all going for this purpose,” Hurlbert continued. “So, if it’s two questions and two circles to fill in right, yes or no, so yeah, but that does seem to be the implication.”
FOX4 also reached out to Clay County Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte Friday. He talked to us in the historic part of downtown Liberty about this issue as well.
“I had a general idea of the taxation levels and all that,” Nolte responded when asked if he knew about the half-cent sales tax limit.
Nolte has learned more about that section as of late, but he says his commission needs to communicate this issue to its citizens, so they’re well informed before they go to the ballot box.
The only way Clay County voters would be voting on this issue though, is if the Royals choose their county for their new stadium as opposed to Jackson.
Currently Jackson County residents pay a 3/8ths cent sales tax that goes to paying off improvements already made to Kauffman Stadium and GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
“I think so,” Nolte responded when asked if he thought two questions could still pass in his county. “You know there’s always challenges anytime you do something that’s kind of off the ordinary path, but by no means insurmountable, by no means whatsoever.”
The Royals did not comment on this issue Friday afternoon. They have three more games of their 2023 season against the New York Yankees. All of them are at Kauffman Stadium.
If the Royals lose the series to the Yankees, they’ll become the worst team in franchise history.