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Kansas City Council Members Agree To Spend More On Police, Fire Department

Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
The Kansas City Council on Thursday approved a $1.66 billion for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

The Kansas City Council on Thursday approved a $1.66 billion dollar budget for the coming fiscal year. 

As it did last year, the city boosted funding for public safety, which includes the police and fire departments and the municipal court, and which takes up more than three-quarters of the city's general fund. Most other city department budgets will remain flat next year.

The city finance department had originally proposed a $5.6 million hike for the Kansas City Police Department, which would have allowed the department to hire 15 more officers and eight new emergency dispatchers; currently, KCPD dispatchers are working mandatory 12 hour shifts. 

But after a series of community conversations and requests from the police department for more money, council members added another $400,000 — enough to cover an additional seven dispatchers and nine officers midway through the fiscal year. 

Councilwoman Heather Hall said the increase in dispatchers will be a boon not only to police, but to the fire department and the Animal Health and Public Safety division.

"That is something that is going to collectively help everyone in our community and I am grateful that we were able to find the finds to do that mid-year," she said. 

The additional revenue comes from increases in the city's earnings tax. 

The council on Thursday also approved an agreement with Cordish, the developer behind the Power and Light District and One Light and Two Light apartment towers. The agreement includes $17.5 million for a parking garage at the proposed Three Light luxury housing development.

Councilwoman Alissia Canady opposed the measure, arguing that the city is subsidizing high-rent high rises at the expense of other city programs. 

"As we literally sit here and split hairs about indigent care and providing basic city services, we're going to enter into an agreement that will provide at least another $80 million of debt service to the city with very minimal return on the impact," Canady said. 

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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