Raytown approves millions in budget cuts; almost half of patrol officers to be laid off

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RAYTOWN, Mo. -- After months of debate, Raytown's Board of Aldermen unanimously approved more than $3 million in budget cuts. The biggest chunk of those cuts were to the police department. Chief Jim Lynch has said 17 police officers will be laid off as a result.

There were two months of contentious meetings with the full Raytown Board of Aldermen after the budget committee passed the preliminary budget.

Some meetings were standing room only where aldermen explained their predicament was caused by not raising taxes in 40 years, and a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) deal with Walmart that the city is now looking to refinance.

There were discussions along the way of declaring Walmart a public nuisance, and even as late as Tuesday night of restructuring the police department to be less top-heavy like Grandview.

But just like the idea of raising taxes, it all came too late to meet the state’s budget deadline of November 1st.

The police chief asked the Board to make up its mind soon, as he is required to give the police officers that will be laid off at least 10 days notice.

“We’re ready to move on and do the best job we can for our citizens," Raytown Police Chief Jim Lynch said.

Alderman Kevin Teeman told the small crowd in attendance for the final budget session the past two months had been the hardest time he'd had on the board.

"This has totally sucked," Alderman Teeman said.

City Administrator Tom Cole presented a new budget Tuesday night that was ultimately approved that included $100,000 in additional cuts in the city. Part of that includes eliminating cost of living adjustments for all city staff. Those could be reinstated at a later date.

“We are where we need to be right now, but it just doesn’t feel good because of the detrimental impacts we’ve had to city-wide staff," Cole said.

Fox 4 spoke with Chief Lynch Wednesday morning following the decision. He says officers will have to do more with less. Click play in the video player below to hear him describe in his own words the decision.