Many upset with proposed budget for city government

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The proposed budget for city government has many in the urban core upset that too many cuts will harm the poor and minorities. Community leaders at Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church hope to persuade the city council to make changes.

There's a lot of discussion among the Black Agenda Group about a $2 million cut in funding for health centers, hospitals and other safety net providers that serve the poor.

"Truman is going to be asked to do more with less," said Joe Jackson, economic development director of the Black Agenda Group. "It's difficult for them to do that when you cut that money out of their budget. You know, is it more important to get people to the hospital or is it more important that the doors are open when you get to the hospital?"

Truman Medical Center would lose more than $1.5-million dollars, and Children's Mercy Hospital would receive $100,000 less.

At the same time some are upset that the budget provides a $1 million increase for maintenance at Swope Soccer Village. And the group claims the mayor's office staff may grow from 13 full time positions two years ago to 18 in the budget proposal.

The mayor's press secretary disputes that, saying only one position will be added to the mayor's office and that person will be shared among many city departments.

“The city changed the way it accounts for contract positions, and the submitted budget does not fully explain that. Only one new position is being added: An Innovation Analyst in the Mayor's Office of Innovation, which coordinates technological and business efficiencies citywide. The submitted budget for the Mayor’s Office is a slight reduction from the adopted budget for the current year, from $2.04 million to $2.02 million,” said press secretary Michael Grimaldi.

Meanwhile, proposed cuts to health care services don't sit well with one councilman.

"I hate to see any proposed cuts to our health safety net providers like Truman Medical Center and Children's Mercy Hospital," said Councilman John Sharp. "They do a great job. Of course they have been under the gun because the state legislature won't expand Medicaid, and is turning down this federal money so it can go to California and New York. So I really want to see those funds restored."

People in the African-American community also are concerned about eliminating nearly $500,000 from a summer food service feeding program for children and teens, that also receives state funding.

A public hearing on the budget Saturday at Southeast Community Center got loud and raucous as some want to see city priorities shift. Sharp says he's hopeful funding for health services may be restored.