On Wednesday, May 1, the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals handed down an opinion, confirming that Cass County has the right to discretion in placing a petition question regarding the Kansas City Zoo on the ballot.
In 2010, the Friends of the Zoo, Inc. (FOTZ), a non-profit organization operating the zoo through a contract with the City, submitted a petition to the Cass County Commissioners. This petition, signed by 2,720 Cass County voters, was to put the question of Cass County’s involvement in the Zoo District on the ballot. The proposed ballot item would ask voters, “Shall a retail sales tax of one eighth of one percent be levied and collected for the benefit of the Kansas City Zoological District, which shall be created and consist of the counties of Jackson and any other eligible county whose voters authorize the county to create or participate in the Kansas City Zoological District, for the support of zoological activities in the district?”
The Cass County Commissioners did not want to put this item on the ballot. Therefore, FOTZ filed a petition for a declaration that the Commissioners were required to do so.
The trial court decided that the Commission had right to decide whether or not to place the question on the ballot, which the FOTZ appealed.
Ultimately the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals came to the same conclusion as the trial court.
Current Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox remarked, “I was happy to see that the Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Wagner’s Circuit Court opinion. The Court held that the statute as written does not impose a mandatory duty upon the County Commission to place the Zoo tax on the ballot, and I believe that was the correct interpretation of the law.”
Read about the benefits for Jackson and Clay County residents on the zoo’s website here.