Mayor Lucas proposes millions in cuts from tourism department to pay for KC convention center hotel

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KANSAS CITY — Mayor Quinton Lucas announced plans to cut millions of dollars from the city’s tourism budget to help close a $4.4 million gap due to the Loews Kansas City Hotel built near the convention center.

Thursday, on the same day Mayor Lucas presented his proposed budget to the full city council, he said he was blindsided by deals associated with the $325 million project approved by city leaders in 2015.

The money taken from the Economic Development Corporations, Visit KC and the KC Film Commission will now be used to pay for catering contracts, management fees and other costs associated with the hotel. 

“This $4 million is not a one-time hit. We have 20 years of these kinds of expenditures. We’re talking about $80-100 million,” Lucas said.

Lucas, who served on the city council at the time, approved a final version of the deal, but said planning was underway well before he took office.

The new mayor said the deal wasn’t bad, but he wishes the city could have fought for a better one.

According to Lucas, some money will be used from the general fund to help offset the costs.

Lucas also pointed to a drop in the convention and tourism tax as a problem.

Currently, 40 percent of the taxes collected go back to the tourism departments, but with a number of hotel projects not counting toward the tax, the mayor said it’s led to less revenue.

He said it’s a valuable lesson in making sure that projects can be approved without sacrificing future needs.

“I absolutely support us doing big things from Power & Light District to the hotel,” Lucas said. “We have to make sure we can pay for it, and we have to make sure we’re paying for it while paying for all of the basics that we said we would fund.”

The hotel is expected to open in March.

Lucas said early projections appear to be good. The hotel has bookings for several years in the future.

The public will get three opportunities to weigh in on the budget

  • Saturday, Feb. 29, 9-11 a.m.; Southeast Community Center, 4201 E. 63rd St.
  • Tuesday, March 3, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; KC Health Department, 2400 Troost Ave.
  • Saturday, March 7, 9-11 a.m.; RB Doolin Center, 2000 N. 46th St.

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