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Kansas City could declare 'pothole emergency'

Posted: 3:12 PM, Feb 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-26 19:20:53-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri’s pothole problem has reached a level where the public works department believes an emergency should be declared.

On Wednesday, Public Works Director Sherri McIntyre addressed a city council committee to explain the reasons why declaring an emergency would be in the best interest of the city.

"We are maxed out with our equipment that we have for patching potholes," McIntyre said.

McIntyre said it would bring in $1.2 million to help bring in contracted work to fill the potholes. Employees would also work 10-hour days to combat the problem. The amount of overtime for the current employees is not part of the $1.2 million.

Right now, employees can volunteer to work overtime.

"We do want to work with life-work balance. We understand that people have obligations with child care with other planned activities, so wanted to try and give them a little bit of notice to work through those issues," McIntyre said.

41 Action News spoke to several KCMO residents who, for the most part, liked the idea.

"I wouldn’t say it’s an emergency, but I think it's a priority," KCMO resident Mundia Chinonge said.

"Adding resources is definitely good, obviously making sure that they’re properly compensated to do that work is also important," KCMO resident Phil Dunn said.

Last year the city saw a surge of people call into the 311 hotline to report a pothole. In 2019, 19,164 reported a pothole, in 2018 that number was just 3,864. To date in 2020, 3,468 residents wanted to report at pothole.

Another problem for the department is lack of workers, according to a presentation that McIntyre gave to the committee. The department is looking to hire more people to help fill potholes, along with other duties.

While declaring an emergency is a temporary fix, the city hopes to find a way to avoid doing this in the future.

"We’re working on a plan going forward to having a consistent funding source of at least 17 million dollars," McIntyre said.

There is not a timetable for when an emergency could be declared, though it could occur in the next week or two. The emergency could last for the month of March.