Raytown mayor releases statement after city slashes $2.7 million from Raytown police budget

Posted at 8:14 AM, Aug 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-05 13:22:25-04

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- The police force in Raytown, Missouri will take the brunt of budget cuts as city leaders finalizes their plan to mitigate a deficit over more than $3 million across all departments.

City leaders told police officials in the past week of a $2.7 million cut to the department's proposed budget, documents showed.

Raytown Mayor Mike McDonough released a statement on September 5 asking that police budget not be cut. It read in part: 

"This is not the time for the police budget to be cut so drastically. We will lose police officers from the street. We will lose Police Officers to other cities and the private sector. This places our safety and security at unacceptable risk. We border a high-crime area of Kansas City. Can we really afford to let this happen? I am committed to developing a plan for responsible budget cuts from all departments until our financial situation gets better and we are working on solutions to that objective."

You can read the full statement here.

"It's one of the last things that should be cut," Justin Powers, a Raytown resident, said in reaction to the news.

Raytown City Administrator Tom Cole agreed.

"This is a horrible situation," Cole said of the letter he sent to Raytown Police Chief Jim Lynch.

According to Cole, the city's projected revenue for 2018 is around $11 million, but the proposed budgets from all of Raytown's departments added up to nearly $14 million. 

"It's a war against money we don't have," Cole added.

The police department makes up the largest portion of Raytown's budget; in fact, over half of it.

Lynch did not want to talk to 41 Action News on camera Thursday, but in a letter to Cole, he wrote that 85 percent of his department's budget goes to personnel. 

"The budget reduction equates to substantial impacts to public safety service, including the reduction of the number of police officers that serve our neighborhoods and protect our city," said Lynch in a statement. "Please bear with us as we work through this."

The Raytown Board of Alderman specifically requested that no cuts be made to police on the streets. Of the 80 employees in the police department, only 25 are patrol officers.

Joe Creamer, who served as an alderman for eight years, hopes salaries are cut in the top-heavy agency.

"If we cannot run our police department budgetarily as other communities do, we need to evaluate the leadership at the police department," he said.

Also part of the budget outline, "cost of living" pay increases for city employees in all departments will drop 50 percent. Other departments have been asked to trim their budgets, but none receive as much money as police. In fact, public works is the second-highest with funding of $2 million.

The police department will present a revised budget to the city manager in the next couple of weeks. Raytown also plans to host town halls so residents can share their thoughts on the budget issues.

Read Chief Lynch's open letter in full: