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Kansas City May Require Leaders Of Area Agencies And Nonprofits To Live Within City Limits

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KCUR File Photo
Kansas City officials endorsed a plan Wednesday requiring the leaders of certain Kansas City organizations and nonprofits, such as the American Jazz Museum, to live within city limits.

A City Council committee Wednesday endorsed a rule requiring the top employees of any organization receiving significant financial support from Kansas City, Missouri to live in the city with a salary no higher than the city manager.

Executives at some Kansas City-area nonprofits and organizations may be asked to move to Kansas City, Missouri, under a measure passed unanimously by a Kansas City council committee Wednesday.

The ordinance, proposed by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, will require any organization receiving twenty percent or more of its annual funds from Kansas City to ensure that its director-level employees live within the city limits.

“I have real qualms with the fact that we have all these quasi-agencies that actually work for the taxpayers, and we all act like they don’t,” Lucas said.

Kansas City requires all city employees to live in Kansas City, Missouri within nine months of employment.

“If I’m a Kansas City taxpayer and all these people get paid every day to work for the people of Kansas City, Missouri, and we pay their salaries and we do all this stuff for them, I don’t know why its hard for us not to say that, yes, that’s an agency that’s accountable to the city of Kansas City and therefore should live under the same rules as the rest of us,” Lucas said.

A companion measure will cap the salaries of employees at those organizations to prevent their pay from exceeding the city manager's. Kansas City is in the process of hiring a new city manager with an annual salary of $325,000.

The measure will not apply to current leadership, only to future directors. And the city council will have the ability to vote to waive the residency or salary requirement.

Councilwoman Heather Hall generally supports the rule, although she wants the city staff to provide more clarity on which organizations will be affected before she approves it.

“If you do business with the city of Kansas City with taxpayer dollars, you should have the same requirements as everybody else — I don’t like unlevel playing fields,” Hall said. “My questions is, who are we talking about and what are we talking about?”

The city’s finance and law departments are still working to finalize a list of organizations impacted by the change. An initial list presented to the finance, governance and public safety committee Wednesday included the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority and the Kansas City Police Department.

But there may be others on the list. Among the organizations possibly impacted are The American Jazz Museum, The Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Visit KC, and the Kansas City Pet Project.

The Streetcar Authority told KCUR in an e-mail they look forward to supporting the council’s decision “in any matter that may be applicable to the KC Streetcar Authority.”

T’Risa McCord, interim president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation, supports both the residency requirement and the salary cap.

Visit KC, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, and The American Jazz Museum declined to comment at this time.

The Guadalupe Centers, Port KC and several other health care providers will not be affected due to federal or state rules governing those organizations.

The full council is set to vote on the new rules next week.

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