Kansas City Council

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The standing room only crowd that showed up Tuesday evening to tell a Kansas City Council committee what it thought about a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport was pretty evenly divided.

Those representing construction companies, trade unions and economic development organizations want the project to push forward as quickly as possible.

ArmourBlvd
Diane Krauthamer / KCUR 89.3

After a scathing audit in 2016, we check in on Kansas City's bike plan. How have things changed since the audit? What lays ahead for bicycle infrastructure in Kansas City? And how do we compare to other Midwestern cities?

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

 

Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri. But sometimes, it feels like its interests aren't at the forefront of the discussion in Jefferson City. Two former Missouri legislators turned Kansas City council members talk about how the city's priorities fared during the 2017 session and what's on their agenda for the future.  

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

City Manager Troy Schulte has sent a letter to the mayor and city council outlining how to spend the first $40 million in general obligation bonds Kansas City voters approved last month.

“We want to get the shovel-ready projects rolling, and we have to tackle the backlog of spot sidewalk repairs,” Schulte said in a statement. “I know council members are also anxious to get going, so this gives them a chance to review the list and provide us with the feedback we need to finalize the plan.”

Here’s what the city manager has proposed:

If you’ve recently driven through Kansas City’s Marlborough neighborhood, which borders from Troost Avenue on the west, Prospect Avenue on the east, and from E. 79th Street to E. 85th Street, you may have noticed that the streets are a little cleaner these days.

That's thanks to Kansas City’s pilot Trash Cart Program, a green infrastructure project where residents are given new covered garbage and recycling bins.

The program rolled out last April in Kansas City’s Marlborough neighborhood as part of the city’s development of green infrastructure projects.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

When it comes to the Buck O’Neil Bridge (formerly known as the Broadway Bridge,) Kansas City is in a tough spot.

More than 50,000 people drive across the bridge each day, according to The Mid-America Regional Council, whose Beyond The Loop project is studying the bridge and its surrounding area.  

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri voters approved all five questions that appeared on Tuesday's special election ballot.

The first three all dealt with a massive $800 million infrastructure bond package, which includes annual property tax increases. The city plans to issue the bonds over 20 years to chip away at looming infrastructure needs. Each question required a 57.1 percent super majority. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The intersection of Hillcrest Road and Oldham in Swope Park needs work. The narrow bridge here has been considered structurally deficient since 2014.

And at night, especially when it rains, the sharp turns can be dangerous.

Two fatal crashes happened here in just the last few months.

Guard rail and bridge repairs would make this intersection safer. But it’s only one of hundreds of project all over the city in need of attention. 

Dank Depot / Flickr — CC

More than half of states have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use.

Kansas City voters won’t be considering that exact question on April 4th, but they will get to decide whether to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Mayor Sly James initially said the ordinance had failed, but after a moment of confusion he announced that the Kansas City Council has enacted a $8.50 an hour minimum wage, effective Sept. 18, 2017.

The ordinance calls for an eventual $13 minimum wage in 2023.

But it might not stand. The Council voted just hours after the Missouri House fast-tracked a bill to prevent cities from adopting a higher wage than the state minimum, which is $7.70 an hour and the current rate in Kansas City.

Stand Up KC

Councilman Quinton Lucas says Kansas City needs to act to raise the minimum wage — now. 

In the past few weeks, the debate over raising the minimum wage is Kansas City has been revived. Here's a quick overview of what's happened so far:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that St. Louis can raise their minimum wage to $11 by 2018. 

This reverses a lower court's decision in 2015, which struck down the increase because it would conflict with a state law that prohibits municipalities from enacting a minimum wage higher than the state's. 

FoutchBrothers LLC

The Kansas City Council on Thursday agreed to sell Kemper Arena for one dollar to developer Foutch Brothers to turn it into a youth sports complex. 

Why a dollar?

“Because we couldn’t give it away. And also because it saves us money in the long run so we don’t have to spend millions to tear it down and we don’t have to spend millions to keep it up,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said during Thursday's city council meeting. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’ll be August before Kansas Citians can vote on a minimum wage increase.

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that the city should get more time to review a proposed ordinance that would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2021.

Petitioners had hoped Judge Margene Burnett would force the city to place the measure on the April 4 ballot.

The city initially declined to put the question on the ballot in November 2015 because Missouri law forbids cities from enacting a minimum wage higher than the state minimum of $7.70 an hour.

Esther Honig

Public Safety will get the biggest increases in Kansas City's budget next year — while the rest of the city tightens its belt.

On Thursday,  Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte submitted the fiscal year 2017- 2018 budget with the primary focus on firefighters and police.  

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

An ordinance seeking to raise the minimum wage in Kansas City to $15 an hour by 2021 failed to get enough votes from the city council to make it onto the ballot in April.

After Thursday's decision, Dr. Vernon Howard, president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City called the no vote “morally bankrupt.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

On the deadline to approve items for the April ballot Thursday, the Kansas City council reached a compromise and unanimously approved an ordinance for an $800 million dollar infrastructure bond package.

The plan includes a property tax increase over 20 years for the purpose of repairing, rebuilding and maintaining the city's existing infrastructure. 

The agreement comes after 43 days of back and forth between council members and Mayor Sly James.

Councilwoman Jolie Justus says the ordinance doesn’t give everyone what they want. 

Dank Depot / Flickr - CC

Despite concerns, a resigned Kansas City Council committee today recommended the full council put a petition to reduce penalties for marijuana possession on the ballot this April. 

The recommendation came after Tuesday's Missouri Supreme court decision, which ordered the city to put a minimum wage petition — which had previously been declined by the council  for contradicting state law — on the ballot. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Supreme Court says Kansas City voters deserve a chance to weigh in on a higher minimum wage.

Last fall the City Council declined to put a minimum wage hike on the ballot because it would’ve contradicted state law.

“We often try to make sure before we’re putting something on the ballot it’s something that could be legally enacted in Kansas City, Missouri, thereafter,” Councilman Quinton Lucas says.

But Lucas, a lawyer, says Tuesday’s ruling turns that thinking on its head.

Courtesy - SCLC-GKC

Across the city, people celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with parades, dancing, singing and community service. 

For Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, the best way to honor that legacy is through activism.

This year, paired with a celebration of King's life, is the official launch of a campaign for a ten-year, one-eighth cent sales tax increase to benefit the city's East Side. 

On Monday, the SCLC-GKC sponsored a community forum to discuss the proposed tax increase. 

Cody Newill / File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Despite Mayor Sly James' hope that the Kansas City Council would agree on ballot language for a major infrastructure bond  issue, joint committees on Thursday decided to put the discussion on hold until next week. 

The leaves just one week to come to a consensus on language if they want to get the issue on the ballot April 4 — which they do. 

BikeWalkKC

Kansas City will reassess its approach to accommodating cyclists, City Manager Troy Schulte told the city council Thursday.

His announcement came in response to a new audit showing the city failing to achieve its goals of becoming more bike friendly.

The audit concluded that the city’s on-street bike plan, Bike KC, lacks critical elements to serve the needs of cyclists and the city’s multi-modal transportation goals.

The failure to update the plan and follow the recommendations of a public committee have led to project delays and increased costs.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is long overdue for a fix up.

That's the message Sly James is trying to get to voters before April, when an $800 million infrastructure bond package will likely appear on the ballot. 

Speaking on KCUR's Up To Date, James said when he took office in 2011, the city already had $6 billion worth of deferred maintenance. 

That number will be a lot bigger, he said, if the city doesn't act soon. 

City of Kansas City Missouri

Kansas City officials kicked off the redevelopment of Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine Jazz district on Monday with the demolition of the old Black Chamber of Commerce Building at the corner of 18th and Paseo.

The building was vacant and not historic. 

The demolition marks 150 days since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million for the first phase of re-development, which includes renovating historic buildings and building a new streetscape and street lighting to better connect the jazz district to the Crossroads district.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Keeping roads and bridges maintained in a city as big as Kansas City can be never-ending — and expensive.

That's the reason Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte came before a joint committee meeting of the City Council on Wednesday to advocate for an $800 million bond proposal to address the city's infrastructure needs for the next 20 years. 

The plan, which will likely come before voters on April 4, 2017, includes a property tax increase  over 20 years for the purpose of repairing, rebuilding and maintaining the city's existing infrastructure. 

Eric Hunsaker / Flickr-CC

Following a similar move in Jackson County, Missouri, earlier this year, Kansas City will establish a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Kansas City Council members Thursday passed an ordinance to establish a city-wide prescription drug database, a tool used to track patients who abuse painkillers and to prevent “doctor shopping” by individuals seeking prescriptions from multiple physicians.

Public Domain

After several months of collecting signatures, area marijuana reformers have submitted enough petition signatures to bring a decriminalization ordinance to the April ballot in Kansas City, Missouri. 

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Kansas City branch submitted more than 4,200 signatures to the city clerk's office on Tuesday. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

To cheers from an enthusiastic crowd, the full Kansas City council unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to the construction of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline.

Various groups in Kansas City have joined protests across the country in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has led a movement against the construction of the pipeline on native lands. 

INTERCONTINENTAL KANSAS CITY AT THE PLAZA

A busy day for Kansas City councilmembers ended months of debate by cutting back the city’s economic development incentives while awarding money to two hotel projects.

Just two weeks ago, the council had deadlocked on the incentives measure and decided to delay a vote. On Thursday, the tide had shifted. The council voted 9-4 to approve the plan.

The ordinance caps tax incentives at 75 percent of a projects cost in most case. The exceptions include distressed areas and projects that do well on the AdvanceKC scorecard, providing things like high-paying jobs.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

More than 50 Kansas City residents and community advocates showed up Saturday morning at the Mohart Multipupose Center near Linwood Boulevard and The Paseo to voice their ideas about how the city should prioritize its spending over the next five years. 

The hearing was a departure from the usual format in which residents testify individually in front of a panel of city officials. 

The morning began with a 'Pick Your Priorities' exercise where attendees voted live between sets of established priorities using electronic clickers. 

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