The City’s Budget Takes More Steps in the Right Direction

As any homeowner or business owner knows, the hardest part is the money. Whether a factory worker with a family, a single-mom struggling to make ends meet, a corporate executive with hundreds of employees or an entrepreneur with a great idea, we’ve all got to struggle with making the dollars work.

Kansas City is no different, except that like any large organization, we’re lucky to have a dedicated professional staff working for citizens to make it right.  The City Manager and I released the City’s proposed 2015-2016 budget today, and it can be found at the budget portal right HERE and click on the “Open Budget” tab at the top of the page.

Before I get too far into the details of it, I want to thank everyone for the hard work they’ve been doing for many months to put the budget together under the leadership of City Manager Troy Schulte, Finance Director Randy Landes, Budget Officer Scott Huizenga and Councilmember Jan Marcason, chair of the Finance, Governance and Audit Committee. They and their staff and committee members have done an awesome job.

This budget reflects the very prudent and responsible Citywide Business Plan approved by the City Council last year. That plan balances a desire and a need to achieve five specific goals identified by the City Council — Public Safety, Transportation/Infrastructure, Neighborhoods/Health Communities, Planning/Zoning/Economic Development and Finance/Governance — with the fiscal resources of the community. Two public citizen work sessions and four focus groups were held specifically to explore and define Kansas City’s priorities. We listened hard to many voices, and we heard what you had to say.

This budget is all about making our city the best it can be, but in a manner that doesn’t break the pocketbooks of taxpayers. We get there with facts and data — two tools that are vital to responsible decisionmaking.

The 2015-2016 budget reflects some very tough decisions, starting with some personal sacrifices by the more than 4,600 city employees and who work for our citizens every day. We have discussed for two years the need to reduce our personnel costs. Therefore, this year, all city employees’ salaries, including our fire and police department personnel, will be frozen so we can stabilize the budget. We regretfully propose to eliminate 85 positions across the city in the coming year, including about 25 positions that are currently filled.
There is much, much more being done to stabilize our financial house. Two examples: For the second year in a row, we are fully funding pensions and pension benefits for all four of our pension plans. Also, in the coming fiscal year, we’re starting a process to maintain city trucks and other vehicles on a rolling basis. We’re doing more than “catching up” on deferred fleet maintenance. The City is starting an eight-year maintenance cycle so we don’t have to play catch up again in the future.

It’s important to remember that the reason this budget exists is to serve our residents. To that end, I’m confident that programs like KC NoVA, Turn the Page KC and Mayor’s Nights will continue to be efficient, results-driven ways to invest in the people who call our City home.

I look forward to reviewing the budget with the Council over the next six weeks. Most importantly, I invite you to let us know what you think. Find out how HERE. For more information about the budget HERE.

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