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Public Safety Top Priority In Proposed KCMO Budget

Esther Honig
The Kansas City fire and police departments saw the biggest raises in the proposed 2017-2018 budget.

Public Safety will get the biggest increases in Kansas City's budget next year — while the rest of the city tightens its belt.

On Thursday,  Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte submitted the fiscal year 2017- 2018 budget with the primary focus on firefighters and police.  

Credit City of Kansas City, Missouri
On Thursday, Kansas City Council members received a 442-page document outlining the proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Last year, Kansas City saw the highest number of homicides in nearly a decade. 

The fire department will get an increase of $11 million, while the police department will get an $8.3 million increase. 

City Manager Troy Schulte explained to the City Council that the raise for public safety ($19 million) is bigger than the increase in total revenue for the General Fund ($6.7 million) — which means there’s a deficit that they’ll have to make up for elsewhere.

“So there is no new initiative this program is just a matter of squeezing everything else except public safety down,” Schulte says.  

The other departments will focus on maintaining existing services. The budget also proposed cutting "less than 30 non-public safety positions, most of which are vacant." 

Increases for water and sewer rates are lower than they were last year. The Cost of Service Task Force is recommending an increase of 1.3 percent for water and 9.5 percent for sewer. That's down from the prior year's increases of 3 and 13 percent, respectively.  

The budget also retains the city's dangerous building demolition program, and maintains money for street preservation, bridge maintenance and sidewalk repair. 

Kansas City residents are also considering an $800 million infrastructure bond in April. The budget did not assume any additional bond funding for capital. 

The proposed budget also includes $300,000 from the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund for a proposed citywide arts festival
Council members will attend three public hearings to hear resident feedback before approving the proposed budget. They are:

Saturday, February 18, 2017 
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Mohart Multipurpose Center
3200 Wayne Ave.

Saturday, February 25, 2017
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Woodneath Library
8900 NE Flintlock Rd.

Saturday, March 4, 2017
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Southeast Community Center
4201 E. 63rd St.

Lisa Rodriguez is the afternoon newscaster and a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Connect with 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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