Kansas City projects budget cuts to make up for $60 million shortfall in 2021

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City department heads are being told to trim 11% from their budgets. That directive includes Kansas City police.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said Wednesday the cuts are because of a projected $60 million budget shortfall next year.

Because of the pandemic, it’s really no surprise Kansas City and probably most cities are worried about decreased revenue and tax dollars.

If it’s a way Kansas City makes money, it’s probably been affected in 2020. Earnings taxes, sales taxes, convention and tourism taxes are all down in the first four months of the fiscal year — a trend that’s expected to continue. 

“It’s now September, and we continue to be very down in a lot of commercial spending economic activity, and that’s probably going to be the case for the remainder of this calendar year and maybe into 2021,” Lucas said.

The budget cuts could mean layoffs or vacant jobs not filled. But the city will also look at other ways to cut costs without cutting too many services. 

It comes at a time when the Kansas City Health Department is trying to fight a global pandemic and the Kansas City Police Department is fighting what’s been called a pandemic of violence. Public safety accounts for 72.8% of the General Fund operating budget, and Lucas said he knows cuts there could have consequences.

“It’s why we organize a government to make sure that if you need a paramedic, if you have a big car accident, if you need to call police in the middle of the night, that somebody responds quickly,” Lucas said. 

West Waldo’s Neighborhood Association president said she’s concerned where the cuts will come from and what parts of the city will suffer as a result.  

“I think it’s going to hurt a lot, so much of our infrastructure is crumbling already,” Amy Stock said.

The 11% will be a starting point, with plenty of maneuvering of which department cuts what from there.

Despite the mayor’s early warning, budget discussions really won’t even start until February, with a vote expected in March for the fiscal year beginning May 1. 

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