KCUR News
9:40 am
Wed March 12, 2008

Funkhouser Proposes Privatizing Zoo and Jail

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser has proposed privatizing the city jail, laying off some 220 city workers, and cutting off funds to the Zoo.

Funkhouser says he's trying to head off a looming budget crisis. He says that absent decisive action now, the city would face emergency cuts in coming months.

At the same time, Funkhouser wants to add to the budget proposed by the city manager to bring on 20 additional police officers, put $10 million more into street maintenance, and add money for city health and retirement benefits, and merit raises.
The mayor also intends to boost the city's savings, in a move aimed at improving the municipal credit rating.

Funkhouser says the Zoo will not close, but should either be moved into private hands, or supported by surrounding municipalities. He says it's not fair for Kansas City taxpayers to subsidize a regional attraction.

He says the jail is inefficient, and ineffective. He says the city should move more serious cases to state court, and incarcerate municipal offenders in a privately run jail.

He says the city is management heavy, with many situations where a supervisor oversees one person, who oversees one person, who oversees one person. He says cutting middle management could save more than $10 million.

See the mayor's budget recommendations here.