By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
November 1, 2013
Friday morning, the Northeast News served Union Station Kansas City with an open records request under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. The documents were hand delivered by Publisher Michael Bushnell in an attempt to determine how the mil levy, a public tax that funds the Kansas City Museum, is being spent.
“This is taxpayer money,” said Bushnell. “If Councilwoman Marcason is too scared or too timid to proceed with the council ordered audit, we’re happy to proceed and carry that water. The taxpayers have a right to know if mil levy proceeds are being misspent by Union Station in the execution of their management agreement with the museum.”
The museum is currently in the midst of negotiations on how to effectively separate from Union Station and become a free-standing entity with a separate board, mission and strategy. Key to that separation are the museum’s vast collections and the roughly annual $1.4 million generated by the mil levy that keeps the museum operating. The Kansas City City Council ordered an audit in January, with the scope statement to be presented in March, but sources at City Hall say the scope of the audit still hasn’t been determined. Councilwoman Marcason recently came under fire when she indicated that she would not look back in time on mil levy expenditures. That decision raised hackles throughout the Northeast community.
Union Station CEO George Guastello was out of the office today, and the request was signed for by a Union Station staffer. Typically, Sunshine Law requests are not immediately responded to, and often the entity that has been served will drag its feet in responding to the petitioner.
State representative John Rizzo, who represents the area where the museum is located, indicated he’s been working with state officials on the issue.
“I’m looking at the possibility of a state level audit of Union Station and the Kansas City Museum in regard to how the mil levy is being spent,” said Rizzo. “These are public tax dollars and the citizens of Missouri have a right to know how these funds are being spent.”