Kansas City, Mo. – Facing a $65 million budget deficit in the coming year, the Kansas City Council has started listening to city departments' pleas for operating money. Parks and Recreation was among the first.
There is simply not enough cash to go around and departments are very aware. Parks Commissioner Meghan Conger told the Council she wasn't begging, but wanted them to know community centers are in danger of closing--"Our centers help keep the public off the streets and in programs that are affordable. But they have to be staffed at levels where we can do our job."
Commission Member Ajamu Webster made the case for keeping up boulevard mowing to hold back blight, based on the notion that a broken window sends a message of decay. Lack of grass cutting is the same, he said. "The cost of reinstating the four mowing cycles along the boulevards and parkways and in park areas is about $250 thousand .
Councilwoman Deb Hermann is familiar. In her words, " Certainly I'm at neighborhood meetings a few times a week and hear from people over and over, their kids can't use the parks and the weeds are over their heads."
Tempered by the reality of what Hermann calls the worst budget crisis in 60 or 70 years.