KCMO Passes New Budget, but KCFD Cuts Remain Unsettled

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Missouri City Council gave their approval to a $1.3 billion budget on Thursday, but the most contentious issue in the budget - cuts to the Kansas City Missouri Fire Department - remain unsettled.

City Manager Troy Schulte proposed $7.6 million in cuts to the department through the elimination of 105 jobs. The budget passed on Thursday kept the $7.6 million in cuts, but did not make any commitment about where that money would come from.

Council member John Sharp spoke out against the cuts, saying that it made it look like the Fire Department was not negotiating in good faith. He added that he wasn't even sure if the cuts to the department were even necessary.

"We are sacking away for a rainy day, which again is a good idea. But I submit it is not the best public policy," said Sharp.

Sharp's comments sparked a debate with other council members, but in the end the budget passed by a 12-1 vote.

Mayor Sly James thanked the council, saying that they did the right thing.

"I want to be clear, I did not want to see, did not will not want to see 105 firefighters cut under any set of circumstances unless the fire department decides that`s what they wants to do," said James, to the jeers and groans of firefighters who packed the council chambers at City Hall.

The ongoing contract negotiations promise to be more heated now that the budget has been approved, as representatives of the Fire Fighters union say that they are angry about the proposed cuts, adding that public safety should be the number one priority.

"They're not bargaining," said Michael Cambiano, president of Firefighters local #42. "The bargain is that we're gonna have to make the sacrifice to save public safety in Kansas City."

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