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Kansas City Council approves $450,000 to fight bill hiking minimum funding for the KCPD

KC Police
Mayor Quinton Lucas and the city council last year tried to reallocate money from the police department to community services, but a judge ruled the move was illegal.

The bill would hike the amount that Kansas City is required to allocate to the KCPD from 20% to 25% of the city’s general revenues.

The Kansas City Council approved spending $450,000 for legal services to fight a proposed state law that would increase minimum funding for the Kansas City Police Department.

The ordinance passed 9-4, with Councilmembers Teresa Loar, Heather Hall, Dan Fowler and Brandon Ellington voting no.

The money would come from an unappropriated portion of the city’s general fund. It would enable the city to hire outside attorneys to combat the proposed law, which was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, whose district includes Platte and Buchanan counties.

Ellington asked why the city wanted to spend money on lawyers when Luetkemeyer’s bill has not been passed. Mayor Quinton Lucas said the city wants to make sure it’s in the best legal position in the event the bill does pass.

The bill would hike the amount that Kansas City is required to allocate to the KCPD from 20% to 25% of the city’s general revenues. It also contains language broadly defining the city’s “general revenue” as revenue that can include special taxes, fees and other sources of funding.

Lucas argued at a Senate committee hearing earlier this month that the funding increase would not guarantee pay raises for police but simply allow the department to hire more lawyers and consultants.

Lucas is also concerned that the city would not be able to redirect special funds — such as those collected from the airport or funds dedicated to a specific department like the Kansas City Fire Department — toward the police department.

Luetkemeyer’s bill was filed in response to actions taken last year by Lucas and the city council to reallocate $42.3 million of the KCPD’s $239 million budget toward a community services and prevention fund. The council also voted to provide an additional $3 million for a new academy class.

The Board of Police Commissioners sued to halt the reallocation. In October, Jackson County Circuit Judge Patrick Campbell ruled that the mayor and council acted illegally. Because state law stipulates that the KCPD is controlled by the state and not the city, Campbell said state law gives the Board of Police Commissioners — a five-member body made up of four governor appointees and the mayor — exclusive management and control of the KCPD.

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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