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Kansas City leaders looking to strike budget balance between public safety and other pressing needs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The amount that Kansas City is going to spend on public safety remains up in the air as the city budget is under review. The city's homicide rate rose dramatically between 2014 and 2016, and the city's struggling to deal with the violent surge.

The answer may lie in more money.

There was a lot of talk about public safety at City Hall on Thursday. Mayor Sly James said they are looking for a balance between public safety and other needs of the city.

Seventy-six percent of the city budget for KCMO goes to public safety, but in 2016 overtime pay went up for police, firefighters and EMS workers and the city had to find ways to cover the expense.

The city said that its latest citizen satisfaction survey shows taxpayers are more pleased this year with improvements like better delivery on basic services and with the positive attention nationally from the KC Streetcar, smart city initiatives and economic development investments.

However, the increase in public safety spending outpaces revenue growth, which requires cuts in other spending.

As the City Council and residents consider the proposed budget, residents will also be studying the proposed $800 million infrastructure maintenance bond issue that is on the ballot April 4.

“The amount of revenue that’s increased is not nearly enough to keep up with the amount of expenditure increase,” said Mayor James.

To look at the submitted budget, click on this link.

Council members will travel to three community locations for public hearings on the budget. Scheduled budget hearings 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.