KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eyeing their biggest police budget yet, the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners started the discussion Tuesday at its first meeting since Missouri voters passed Amendment 4 last week.
Even though Missouri voters raised the minimum budget for the Kansas City Police Department, functionally there has been no real change.
Amendment 4 required the city to fund police at 25% of its general revenue. But that percentage is actually lower than what Kansas City typically spends.
But the situation reflects the continuing conflict between those wanting local versus state control of the police department.
Amendment 4 passed with 63% of the statewide vote, but in Kansas City, voters actually rejected the amendment by 61%.
During Tuesday’s meeting, a chunk of discussion focused on police radios — an upgrade that could cost around $2 million. It’s a small fraction of the proposed $294 million budget, which is about $30 million more than the current fiscal year’s budget.
That amount is also likely 27% of the city’s general revenue, which is typical but also notable as it’s 2% higher than the new funding floor Missouri voters set.
“To me, it’s being treated as a second-class citizen that the people of Kansas City should be angriest about. You just heard a long board meeting and discussion on, ‘Do we have money in the initial 25%-plus budget for radios, and do we need to get money from somewhere else?'” Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
“And I think everybody in the state of Missouri would have thought that, ‘Heck, we just funded all of that.’ Where’s all the other money going? Where’s that sort of accountability? That’s all that the people of Kansas City ultimately want,” Lucas said.
The police board is governor-appointed plus a seat for Kansas City’s mayor. The dynamic means communications on everything from the budget to the priorities within it go through an extra level of separation and bureaucracy.
Another continuing struggle for KCPD is competing with suburban departments, which may have the ability to pay their officers more money.
Lucas questioned how the latest budget can be so large yet not keep pace with salaries to be competitive in hiring officers.
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