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City of Kansas City, Mo.

CONTACT: City Communications Office, 816-513-1349


Budget analysis outlines limited flexibility in City budget

In anticipation of the March 24 adoption of the City of Kansas City Mo. 2011-2012 budget, the City’s Council Finance and Audit Committee requested a “Budget Constraint Analysis.” This review clearly illustrates the City Council’s lack of flexibility in responding to the current and emerging needs of our residents.

“The Budget Constraint Analysis demonstrates that, much like a family budget, Kansas City’s dollars can only stretch so far,” said Councilwoman Deb Hermann, chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. “We as a Council are severely limited in our ability to redirect funds for other legitimate purposes.”

Of the $1,246,558,124 total budget, $378 million or 30 percent, is reserved for enterprise operations and special assessment projects, including the City’s Water Services Department and two City airports.

Obligatory debt service and lease payments, state law and City Charter requirements, and voter mandated public improvements and health programs account for another $498 million, or 40 percent, of the total budget. Federal grants, other earmarked revenues and fixed costs carve out another $273 million, or 22 percent.

All told, these expenditures account for 92 percent of the total City budget. That leaves $98 million, or 8 percent, of a $1.2 billion budget that the Council can direct to emergencies and emerging needs of the citizens. That $98 million is roughly the equivalent of expenditures for neighborhood inspection and abatement programs (weeds/dangerous buildings), bulky item collection, recycling, the municipal court and jail, park maintenance and community centers. Furthermore, these “flexible” resources must cover the six “desired community outcomes” determined by the Council’s strategic plan: Governance ($34 million or 35 percent), Public Safety ($25 million or 25 percent), Neighborhood Livability ($17 million or 17 percent), Healthy Community ($14 million or 15 percent), Economic Growth ($4 million or 4 percent) and Public Infrastructure ($4 million or 4 percent). Even in this area of so-called flexibility, the Council has little practical discretion to divert funding from any of these essential functions of municipal government.

“These limitations are further intensified by the prolonged recession and the $200 million we have painfully cut from the last four City budgets,” Hermann added. “Lack of flexibility or discretion in allocating scarce resources hampers the Council’s ability to respond to emergencies or opportunities on behalf of the citizens it serves. Loss of another $200 million, should the Earnings Tax not be renewed, would restrict this ability to less than zero.”

For more information about the “Budget Constraint Analysis,” or the City’s Finance and Audit Committee, please contact Deb Hermann, Chair, Finance and Audit Committee 816-513-1624.


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