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Kansas City Council Approves Budget, Compromises On Firefighters Contract

City of Kansas City

The Kansas City, Missouri City Council approved  a $1.5 billion budget on Thursday that kicks off a $10 million two-year plan to tear down about 800 abandoned houses, increases spending on basic services by 5 percent and allows for 2 percent raises for city employees.

The same day the council approved a union contract granting firefighters 2.6 percent raises. The agreement reduces a potential wage freeze in case emergency medical services revenue does not increase by 6 percent from two years to one.

Councilwoman Teresa Loar drew applause from firefighters in attendance with her statement of support.

“When we hear that the police department and the fire department are getting 78 percent of the budget it is because the budget is so small because all of it is committed to debt. So I will take the chance on the police and fire departments,” she said.

Finance chair Scott Wagner and Mayor Sly James opposed approving the deal.

Wagner said for him it was strictly a “money issue” and that the city could not support the raises, especially in view of the amount of fire department overtime being currently paid.

Mayor James warned that the deal represented a “four year hit” that would worsen the ongoing decline in revenue available for sidewalks, trash collection and other basic neighborhood services.

The contract proposal was approved on a 10-2 vote with James and Wagner opposing.

Firefighters Local 42 is expected to vote to ratify the contract, which covers about 1,100 firefighters and ambulance attendants.

Steve Bell is afternoon news anchor and business news reporter for KCUR.  He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or by e-mail as steveb@kcur.org

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