Kansas City, MO – Mayor Mark Funkhouser came out on the losing side of two significant council votes yesterday.
The first defeat for the mayor was the override of his veto of the council's renewing the appointment of the chairman of the Port Authority, which the mayor has said needs more of an "international flavor."
Then the mayor voted with the four Northland council members on a move to send a charter amendment to voters that could delay redrawing council district boundaries if the council deadlocks on the issue.
Kansas City, MO – The newly appointed panel charged with recommending a redistricting plan for Kansas City, Missouri held a lengthy first meeting yesterday, but it's possible the real decision making won't start until April.
The city charter mandates that redistricting be in place by the March election, but that would require a second effort after new census data is released, probably in April.
Kansas City, MO – Preparing for a July fourth week off, Kansas City's City Council turned out a prolific load of legislation Thursday, finalizing a computerized traffic ticket system, new-home security standards, a loan to pay off TIF obligations, art for the KC-Live District, appropriations for street repairs, and an ethics reform project.
And the council went head to head with the mayor, on funding for the Sports Complex.
Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City, Mo., finance department verified Wednesday that after two years of major spending cuts the city has money in the bank. And the mayor and council members immediately started talking about how much more the city should borrow.
The 34.2 million dollars the city has in its general fund today, day one of its new fiscal year, is about 8 percent of this year's budget. That's the largest balance in a decade, and the city's credit rating is also at its highest in ten years.
Kansas City, MO – The head of the panel redrawing proposed changes in Jackson County, Missouri's charter sees new opportunities to fight discrimination at the courthouse.
Voters will decide worthiness of charter changes when they cast ballots in the August election. Changes range from ending no bid contracts, to eliminating automatic pay hikes for elected officials to limiting the county executive's power over the sheriff. And there is hiring staff to investigate discrimination and ethics breaches.
Kansas City, MO – Kansas City's city council honored the old adage "it takes money to make money" yesterday, voting to pick up the tab for the considerable expenses related to hosting the 2012 All-Star Game.
City Manager Troy Schulte gave the council what might have been a staggering cost estimate if not for his projected return-on-investment. Schulte told the council his staff estimates the city's expenses at $500,000, but expect an economic impact of over $50 million in return.
Kansas City, MO – Kansas City will pay a $250,000 deposit to take the Power and Light Building and the block around it off the market while studies continue on creating a new convention hotel on the site. But Mayor Funkhouser still thinks it's a bad idea.
The city will lose the quarter of a million it doesn't build a hotel on the property, and the mayor says the "found money" from the restaurant tax could be better spent on neighborhood infrastructure or marketing existing hotels.
Kansas City, Mo. – A city council committee is recommending that the city council allocate a quarter of a million dollars on an option to buy the block that contains the Power and Light building for a downtown convention hotel.
The planning and zoning committee is sending the full council resolutions to continue studying the possibility of a 1,000 room hotel and to pay New York's Gailord Enterprises $250,000 to take the property off the market for the year or so that study is expected to take.
Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City city council wouldn't go along with Mayor Funkhouser's plan for a large bond issue for infrastructure around schools, but it approved its own 90 million bond issue package Thursday.
The bonds the council allocated were approved by the voters in 2004 and 2005, but never actually sold.
Councilman Terry Riley characterized the bond package as a local economic stimulus.
Kansas City, Mo. – After months of discussion and weeks of committee hearings, Kansas City's Planning and Zoning finally sent the full city council an urban agriculture ordinance Wednesday.
The committee added a number of restrictions including a prohibition on row crops in front yards, restriction of sales to fresh produce and requiring community gardens to get approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City, Missouri city council made it formal Thursday: They endorse the idea of a regional rapid rail transit system proposed by Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.
There was no mention of Clay Chastain's latest petition drive for a competing Kansas City only light rail plan as the council endorsed Sanders' tri-county transit system proposal. Sanders says his can be done less expensively by routing commuter rail trains along existing unused or under-used right-of-way.
Kansas City, Mo. – The first phase of Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser's "Schools First" program was sidelined in a council committee meeting yesterday. A number of citizens testified for the infrastructure improvement plan, and the mayor put in his pitch, including that the only expense next year would be $2 million in debt service.
"When you're spending $3 to $5 million a year and need to be spending many multiples of that, when you have a $1.6 billion backlog, which is what they tell us we have in sidewalks, you have to start somewhere," says Funkhouser.
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri will create a city department in charge of overseeing city construction projects after all.
The ordinance to create a city Capital Improvements Management Department failed last week on a tie vote with 12 council members present. Councilman John Sharp brought it up for reconsideration yesterday with the tie-breaking vote present.
Supporters, including the mayor and city manager said it will speed up backlogged city construction projects.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city has tentatively agreed to support Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders' transit plan.
Sanders and TranSystems consultant Jim Terry told the council Thursday that by using existing and abandoned rail routes, the tri-county Missouri side of the metro area can have a 134-mile rail-based transit system for about a billion dollars - 8 million a mile.
The system could be expanded to include Johnson and Wyandotte Counties, and would be based on a Union Station hub.
Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser talked with reporters Wednesday about Kansas City's efforts to save its red light cameras from being banned by an amendment to the transportation bill sponsored by State Senator Jim Lembke.
Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser saw his plans for an office of school support sent back to committee yesterday.
The underlying theme of most objections seemed to be unwillingness to let a vote for a study of creating the office be taken as a vote for the office as conceived by the mayor and the his proposed "schools first" program. Council member Cindy Circo went so far as to suggest that the main purpose of the office was to enhance the Funkhouser's reelection chances.
Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser got a start on his "schools first" initiative Wednesday.
The city council finance and audit committee approved a resolution to designate a School Support and Public Engagement person at City Hall.
That person would be responsible for coordinating with all schools and school districts in the city - for example, to coordinate information on snow removal and school closings and to get the word out on recreational activities the city already offers for young people.
Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser will fight efforts to repeal the Kansas City earnings' tax. The mayor has been mum on the issue until now.
Hizzoner concedes he has been slow and deliberative deciding his stance, as signature collectors have been gathering support for an earnings tax referendum, statewide. Today he brought members of organized labor and other petition opponents to his office.
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri will not get a new city department to manage construction projects. The city council voted that down 7 to 6 yesterday. But the city Human Relations Department was re-empowered in a last-minute move.
The Human Relations Department has always been a department according to the city charter. But former city manager Wayne Cauthen gave it division status within his office. That means HRD didn't have its own separate budget, and some council members also said it "degraded the status" of HRD.
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri's city council continued hearing from departments on next year's budget yesterday. They discussed items including public health, public works and the city's convention and tourism efforts.
Oscar McGaskey, who is in charge of the city's convention facilities told the council that in addition to declining major convention business, the city continues to be saddled with a large deficit for Kemper Arena, projected to lose $1.6 million next year.
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Public Works Director Stan Harris told the council Finance and Audit Committee Wednesday that the full year's 2.5 million snow removal budget was no match for the series of storms that ushered in 2010.
Harris said as of January 3, at the end of that storm, his department had expended a total of roughly 2.8 million dollars, about 300,000 dollars over the budget for the full year.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City city council wasted no time in approving a lease on the overhaul base at KCI. The proposed deal with Jet Midwest was first announced last week, and today the contract is ready for the inking.
What can you say when you come up with a deal to fill most of a space due to soon become vacant for about $700,000 a year... with the possibility of up to 600 good-paying jobs within three or so years?