Community members want voice during budget talks, targeting KC police funding

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A day after a judge ruled against the mayor and Kansas City Council in a police funding lawsuit, the battle over that funding shifted to the next round of budget talks.

Community leaders whose organizations might have benefited from reallocating police dollars said they’re ready.

“We had nine shootings,” said Ron Hunt, Blue Hills Neighborhood Association board member. “Nine shootings in three days. That’s not a police problem. That’s a city problem and a neighborhood problem.”

Hunt wants to catch the community’s attention before council members and police start discussing next year’s budget. He said neighborhood leaders in the community need to be a part of the conversation, to stop crime in the city.

“We’re taxpayers,” Hunt said. “We have a right to allocate our money where we choose fit.”

His push is coming after a Jackson County Judge ruled against Kansas City in the police funding lawsuit. Mayor Quinton Lucas was pushing to move over $40 million allocated for the police in a community services and prevention fund.

Councilman Dan Fowler, who was against the mayor’s effort, said the city has budget hearings that people are welcome to attend.

“If you say, ‘Well, we want you as a part of the negotiations between KCPD and Kansas City,’ then we would almost automatically have to say and Kansas City Fire Department, and the city and between public works, and between health department and all these other things,” Fowler said.

Fowler said how much money the police department receives can be different each year depending on how much money the city has.

Regardless, Hunt said some of the department’s money needs to go toward community programs like mental health, drugs and alcohol and domestic violence.

“Because all the police are talking about is more recruitment and more officers,” said Hunt. “How is that going to change the quality of my life?”

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