Mayor Lucas appeals to county leaders for COVID-19 funding

mayor quinton lucas
Posted at 10:03 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 18:29:14-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas appealed Monday to the Jackson County Legislature “to receive direct funding from the portion of the County’s CARES Act funds set aside for local units of government” in a letter to County Executive Frank White Jr. and legislators.

Kansas City missed out on the initial wave of CARES Act funding because its population was just shy of the 500,000 threshold. Jackson County received money intended for use in KCMO, which Lucas said makes up 44.5% of the county’s population.

“Based on guidance from the (U.S.) Department of Treasury, our state treasurer, and given Kansas City’s unique position as a city with its own health department and the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the metropolitan area, we respectfully urge you to enable our city to receive direct (CARES Act) funding,” Lucas said in the letter to county officials.

Kansas City is asking for $54,588,149 from Jackson County’s $122.7 million disbursement from the state.

Lucas outlined some of the millions of dollars in expenses related to COVID-19 the city expects to incur, including $11.3 million for the KCMO Health Department for testing and other initiatives.

Through May 6, Kansas City has spent more than $1.38 million on testing, contact tracing, compliance and community outreach, but the city anticipates at nearly $10 million in related expenses for those efforts.

Lucas also noted that the city needs $12.5 million, including more than $2.63 million already spent, on safety equipment and overtime for police and fire department personnel and $3.3 million for sanitation and safety equipment for city departments, including overtime for sick leave and cleaning efforts.

KCMO also plans to use CARES Act funding for a variety of economic and social programs in accordance with recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury:

  • $18 million for the small business assistance — including $1 million already spent on local loan programs, $3.5 million for KC BizCare’s efforts to provide technical assistance to companies adjusting to telework and an additional $13.5 million in Economic Development Corporation grants for small businesses in the city.
  • $10 million for housing assistance, the bulk of which will be direct assistance to people or relief for landlords “who have cancelled, suspended, or modified rent obligations during the pandemic” along with $500,000 for legal aid for low-income residents facing eviction or foreclosure
  • $5.5 million for social services — including “food banks, utility assistance, support for homeless shelters, and other temporary housing providers for individuals facing economic hardship due to COVID-19”
  • $1.5 million for relief to arts-based businesses, including grants for local artists and assistance for performers and galleries forced to cancel events and unable to work during stay-at-home orders

“Kansas City believes this proposal to represent a fair and detailed schedule of spending to support our City’s recovery under COVID-19 and is based on U.S. Treasury guidelines for spending,” Lucas wrote.

CARES Act funding can be provided directly to the city, which is what Lucas is asking for, but county legislators also could require Kansas City to submit expenditure reports as a prerequisite for funding or for reimbursement.

If the city were to use funds for unqualified expenses, it would be the county on the hook with the U.S. Department of Treasury, barring some agreement between city and county officials.

Read Lucas' full letter to White and legislators: