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KCMO asks departments to project 4.5% budget cut

Efforts could save more than $50 million in 2020
kcmo city hall1.jpg
Posted at 10:02 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 23:17:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Massive budget cuts are on the line as a result of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic in Kansas City, Missouri.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said the city is "looking at a forecast" where it would try to save between $50 million and $60 million this year.

All city departments received a letter from the acting City Manager Earnest Rouse on Tuesday, asking to project what a 4.5 percent budget cut would look like. Lucas said for Kansas City, Missouri, police that would be roughly $10.6 million and nearly $9 million for the fire department.

"To come up with these kinds of numbers, there is just only one way to do that and that is personnel,” KCPD Chief Rick Smith said. “We have some things that we have talked about implementing - other programs to maybe get people to retire early, incentive packages, something of that nature."

KCMO Communications Director Chris Hernandez said it's important to keep in mind that the requests are being made citywide. The 4.5 percent could be scaled up or down, but the city needed a starting point to begin the budget discussion.

The good news, according to Hernandez, is the city's reserve fund is the strongest it has been in the city’s history.

“After the last recession, we made sure we built it back up in case something like this happened again,” Hernandez said.

Currently, there is more than two months of operating expenses in the city’s “rainy day fund," which amounts to roughly 18 percent of the general operating fund.

That, coupled with the city’s diversified revenue stream, is what Hernandez said gives KC a leg up in this situation.

"Because it's a diversified stream with four to five major different sources, no single stream is more than 25 percent of our income, so that's good,” Hernandez said.

Moving forward, city council members will have to decide where cuts will be made and, therefore, how that will potentially impact the nearly 400 services and programs the city provides on a daily basis. Those services include filling potholes and picking up trash.

Lucas said the city will "find a way" to pay its bills, but the challenge locally compared to federal governments is that local entities have to balance their budget.

The finance committee will meet next Wednesday to discuss the possible cuts. Each department’s proposed cuts will then be presented to the full city council next Thursday.