KC Council approves budget, firefighters' raises

Posted at 5:06 PM, Mar 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-25 19:46:27-04

A months-long standstill over wages between the Kansas City Council and the local firefighters union has finally come to an end. 

Thursday, the Kansas City Council voted 10-2 in favor of a new wage deal, granting firefighters 2.6 percent raises. 

"Yeah, it's going to be tough," said Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who voted "no" to the deal. 

According to the city, the increase in wages will cost at least $302.6 million through 2020. It does not include overtime, which the city anticipates it will pay more than $5 million for, this year, than was budgeted for. 

"It’s not just a matter of saying you get a dollar raise because it’s not a dollar raise," said James. "You also get more insurance, you also get more pension, you also get more benefits, so that dollar quickly turns into two." 

For the first time in years, Kansas City saw an increase in revenue. City Council approved a budget of $1.5 billion, a 3.5 percent increase from this current fiscal year. 

"The [firefighter wage deal] that was proposed was part of a five-year financial plan. That five-year financial plan not only projects out the revenue and projects of this year, but the following four years," said James. "Money doesn’t magically materialize. When we have projections that turn out to be under-projected, more money has to be devoted, we have to find where money can come from in the budget." 

The budget for 2016-2017 calls for spending $10 million over the next two years to tear down the most dangerous buildings and abandoned homes in the city. It also increases money for bulky item pickup, legal aid for vacant housing work and land bank tree removal. 

"We’ve been lean and mean for quite some time now and we are going to stay mean and lean, but we are going to add more resources where we need them," said James.