Kansas City mayor vows to make ‘surgical cuts’ and avoid laying off city employees in state of the city address

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is vowing to keep the city’s workers on the payroll, even as the city faces a $70 million shortfall due to the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.

Instead, Lucas said there would need to be “surgical cuts” to the city budget, such as eliminating unfilled positions, offering early retirement incentives for current employees, removing all but essential city travel from the budget, transitioning to in house leaf and brush removal, consolidating KCPD services, and refinancing existing debt.

“No public works staff, no parks and recreation staff, no fire fighters or EMS, and no one in the Kansas City Police Department—despite what you’ve perhaps previously heard. No officer will need to lose their jobs due to budget cuts, and no stations need be closed,” he said.

The budget also calls for converting streetlights to energy efficient LED lights, negotiating reductions in healthcare costs, selling unused city property, consolidating office space into unused areas of City Hall, reducing contracts with outside vendors including security guards, jail contracts and consultants and selling under-used vehicles and empty city-owned buildings, including Hale Arena.

To address the budget shortfall, Lucas is also proposing across the board funding cuts to Kansas City institutions, including the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight Theatre, ArtsKC, the Black Archives of Mid-America, Visit KC, Legal Aid of Western Missouri and the Kansas City Film Office.

“These decisions were not made lightly,” Lucas said. “Each of the listed organizations is vital to the cultural, educational, and recreational fabric of our city and we will work to ensure that any change in appropriations hold their dedicated staff harmless as we look to cut consulting, marketing, and
other administrative expenses.”

The Mayor also talked about the economic losses businesses incurred during the pandemic, but stood behind his decision to close businesses in March and limit occupancy at bars and restaurants once they re-opened.

“No mayor wants to close schools. No mayor wants to cancel weddings, graduations, or to see our
small, locally-owned businesses suffer. But, I’m a human first.”

You can read the full State of the City address here.

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