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Crime prevention, housing, new opportunities: KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas delivers 5th State of the City address

Lucas proposes increasing Kansas City, Missouri, police officers' salaries by 30% in the 2024-25 budget
State of the City address
Posted at 2:58 PM, Feb 07, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas delivered his fifth State of the City address on Wednesday, reflecting on the highs and lows of 2023 while looking ahead to opportunities for investment, growth, redevelopment and crime prevention in 2024.

While Lucas reiterated throughout his speech Kansas City is in its prime by attaining its "strongest financial position ever" and improvements in almost every other measurable sphere, the mayor admitted violence remains the city's greatest challenge.

Lucas noted the city has seen five homicides in 2024 compared to 15 at the same time last year, which was the city's deadliest year on record.

The mayor's answer to the city's violence is preventative measures.

"Ending gun violence also means stopping it before it starts. It’s why we continue to prevent dangerous people or youth from getting their hands on guns," he said.

Lucas recalled two gun-related ordinances passed by the KCMO City Council in 2023 that made the sale of bullets to minors illegal and banned the use of switches, which gun owners use to make their guns deadlier.

But the mayor couldn't ignore a recent increase in public violence at key Kansas City locations, including a shootout between two groups of people at Crown Center in January that left six injured.

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"Shootouts in the middle of the city won't be tolerated," Lucas said.

Lucas announced he is proposing $7 million of the city's nearly $2.3 billion 2024-25 fiscal budget — which will be formally presented to the KCMO City Council on Thursday — be allocated to violence intervention and prevention.

The budget proposal also includes the city fully funding Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department personnel and suggests a 30% pay raise for all police officers, which would increase their starting salary from $50,000 to $65,000. The proposal also asks for a review of 911 call taker and dispatcher salaries to become among the top in the region.

"We have to have enough police in this city," Lucas said. "We have to have call takers who answer 911 when our residents call. We have to have services for those in crisis. We have to speak to our young people before they solve disputes with violence. And, we, as leaders and adults, have to show a path of collaboration in how we address our issues."

Lucas acknowledged that violence prevention can be found in other areas of life outside policing, including housing, equitable development, employment, health care, and by addressing poverty concerns.

Safe, affordable housing is exactly what Kansas City needed starting in early 2023, when the Housing Authority of Kansas City announced the number of people wait-listed for Section 8 Housing had doubled since 2021. And because the city has reached its largest population count ever, the demand for housing continues to grow.

In Lucas' address, he said by the end of 2024, the city's new affordable housing trust fund will create more than 1,800 new units which will house an estimated 4,000 people.

In collaboration with the federal government, the city promises to build hundreds of units in the Parade Park neighborhood, which is set to foreclose in March, according to Lucas.

"The city is working actively with our federal government to preserve the Parade Park neighborhood, ensuring space and a right of return for all current residents, pledging to build hundreds of new units, and to keep the neighborhood mixed use, affordable, accessible to residents of all ages, and to maintain the history of one of the finest Black cooperative housing development our country has ever seen," Lucas said.

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Among the demand for affordable housing is the need for safe housing. Lucas said the city's partnership with federal entities and the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council will allocate $1 million to clean up lead contaminated soil in the Ivanhoe community in 2024. Once lead levels in the soil are deemed safe, the funds will go toward preparing the vacant lots for infill housing.

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As the city continues to grow and welcome new residents from all parts of the world, Lucas promised the new budget proposal addresses improvement to language access across the city.

"I was proud, late last year, to appoint the New Americans Commission to find ways to better support the growing community of immigrants and refugees living in Kansas City and organizations like Della Lamb and Jewish Vocational Services that work with them," he said.

Among the things Lucas is proud of is Kansas City's mark on sports in 2024, including the Chiefs fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years, the opening of the first stadium purpose-built for a professional women's sports team in the world, and the announcement that KC will host six FIFA World Cup matches in 2026.

As excitement grows for these sporting events, Lucas proposes the support behind small and local businesses does, too.

"The upcoming budget also provides funding once more to support small business and incentives for restaurants as we approach major events in the years ahead and restaurants look to expand seating capacity, add patio spaces, and make permanent many of the changes in outdoor dining seen in recent years," he said.

The public has three upcoming opportunities to voice their opinions on the 2024-25 budget:

  • Saturday, Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
    • Southeast Community Center, 4201 E. 63rd Street
  • Saturday, March 2 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (virtual option available)
    • KCMO City Hall, 26th Floor, Council Chambers, 414 E. 12th Street
  • Monday, March 4 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
    • Northland Neighborhoods, Inc., 5340 Chouteau Trafficway