Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas today delivered his third State of the City Address to the Kansas City Council and to Kansas Citians virtually, where previewed the Kansas City Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Budget and priorities for the year ahead.
The FY21-22 Budget will be formally presented to the City Council tomorrow, February 10, during Business Session at 2 p.m., followed by several public budget hearings to provide Kansas Citians an opportunity to weigh in on how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Lucas said although City Hall is a complex place with about 7,000 employees, their job is straightforward: to deliver basic services like snow removal and trash pick-up at a high level not seen for generations in this city; to help spur accessible and affordable housing opportunities for all Kansas Citians; to welcome businesses and to clear red-tape; to be serious about making all our neighborhoods safer; and to pay City workers fair wages to make all of that possible.
“I grew up the child of a government worker,” Lucas said. “My mom raised three kids by herself, working hard and rarely seeing the compensation she or her colleagues deserved—years without pay raises, reductions in benefits, and a government that too often took their labor for granted. The time for that status quo at City Hall has ended. Since I became mayor, our new contract with firefighters ensured increased pay at all levels for Kansas City’s bravest.”
In recent months, Lucas has also secured funding and commitments to provide pay increases this year to all of Kansas City’s police officers.
“Now, it is time that all City employees receive fair wages for their hard work,” Lucas said. “Kansas City cannot run without the women and men picking up our trash, maintaining our sewers, cleaning our parks, answering 911 calls, and inspecting our dangerous buildings, and this year we have set aside funding to ensure every Kansas City worker will receive a raise, including a four percent pay raise for all city workers, and to ensure all know that we value and appreciate them and their families. Fair pay for our workforce is one key part of how we will continue to improve basic service delivery for Kansas City residents.”
After the last snow storm, Lucas was proud to hear from people who said they saw a snow plow on their street for the first time in 10 or 20 years.
“When I ran for mayor, I talked a lot about potholes and better delivery of the services you should expect,” Lucas said. “I’m proud of the strides we’ve made. In addition to enhanced snow removal, we launched Kansas City’s Summer of Street Resurfacing.”
Lucas noted the construction across Kansas City between August and November 2021. The Public Works Department resurfaced 137 lane miles, repaired 272 Kansas City streets, and improved coordination with contractors and utility companies to ensure that freshly-paved
streets weren’t weeks later torn up for utility work.
“Over the last two years, we’ve made important investments in road resurfacing, expanded trash collection, and Kansas City’s first-in-the-nation Zero Fare Transit initiative,” Lucas said. “Work to expand the Kansas City Streetcar to UMKC and to complete a new airport terminal is well underway—and continues to proceed on time and on budget, with more than 120 minority and women-owned businesses participating in the project.”
Lucas said there is still critical work to be done to rebuild Kansas City’s roads, bridges, and sewers; increase access to public transit and broadband; make the city more resilient against the impacts of climate change; and invest in neighborhoods and communities that have been too often left behind by federal, state, and local officials.
“In May of last year, I was proud to participate in an effort with my mayoral colleagues and senior Congressional leaders at the U.S. Capitol to kick off our push for sweeping federal infrastructure legislation,” Lucas said. “After months of effort by America’s mayors and a broad bipartisan Congressional coalition— including Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Senator Roy Blunt—I was proud to represent Kansas City at the White House during the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signing ceremony; and I know we were all proud to welcome President Joe Biden to Kansas City this past December, both to highlight the progress we’ve already made, and to talk about the important work still to be done as it relates to infrastructure.”
With this enhanced federal funding, Kansas City will continue to invest in improving infrastructure and basic city services. Included in this year’s Budget is funding to expand trash clean-up services, allocating $5 million more annually to these services, which will allow us to more quickly address illegal dumping and respond to requests for bulky-item pick-up in your neighborhoods; invest in expanded efforts to the tune of $3.5 million to mitigate dangerous buildings and address empty lots that are nuisances throughout too much of Kansas City; and repave over 300 miles of streets in the next year.”
Kansas City just launched Rebuild KC, a $15 million request for proposals that will fund neighborhood and community improvement projects citywide—because neighborhoods, more than government, know exactly what they need and the organizations they want to work with to accomplish these goals, Lucas said. Rebuild KC applications remain open through the end of this month, which can be submitted at kcmo.gov, or by calling 311.
“As we rebuild the infrastructure of our community, we recognize our social infrastructure— housing and community support—is as important as ever for thousands of Kansas Citians,” Lucas said. “Having known housing struggles in my own life, I am proud that the Kansas City Council and I have done more this past year to bolster safe and affordable housing opportunities than any year ever before.”
Lucas recalled having times in his youth when his family needed to pack quickly to move, when they lived in a place where core utilities didn’t work, when they found temporary space in a motel or snuck in for a while at a nursing home, and when he hoped and prayed things would change.
“Unfortunately, too many Kansas Citians know stories like those or worse, life on our streets without the support to improve their lives,” Lucas said. “Given our numerous challenges, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has funded the Kansas City Housing Trust Fund, which will create more housing opportunities and preserve older homes and housing units throughout the City; the City Council has passed Kansas City’s first-ever Tenants’ Right to Counsel, guaranteeing any Kansas Citian, regardless of income, can have representation in housing court when they need it; and we have expanded critical programming like supportive services and emergency rental assistance to keep people in their homes and prevent eviction and displacement.”
Last year, the Kansas City Council also voted to create a Kansas City Housing and Community Development Department, where they are investing in their capacity to prevent and address homelessness with new positions focused on tenant advocacy, houseless prevention, and affordable housing creation. Last week, the City announced Judge Jane Pansing Brown, the Mayor’s office’s former legal counsel, as its new Acting Housing Director.
“Ms. Brown, a longtime Northlander and former judge and prosecutor, wrote the book on landlord-tenant law in Missouri and has had a significant role in drafting all housing policy coming out of my office for the past two-and-a-half years,” Lucas said.
Judge Brown will lead the new Housing Department in advocating for more federal and state funding opportunities to bolster affordable housing development, and in dispersing Housing Trust Fund allocations to projects committed to meeting the City’s affordable housing goals.
This year’s Budget includes hiring of Kansas City’s first-ever Houselessness Prevention Coordinator; $12.5 million in additional funding to the Housing Trust Fund; $2.5 million to stand up our Tenants’ Right to Counsel program; and millions more for rental and utility assistance for Kansas City renters.
“Through these efforts and more, Kansas City has set the stage for transformative investments in affordable housing across our city,” Lucas said. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the housing landscape in Kansas City to ensure no one has to wonder if they’ll have a roof to sleep under at night.”
Due to the work of many, including the Kansas City Police Department, the county prosecutors’ offices, and violence prevention efforts, Kansas City saw a decrease in homicide numbers from 2020 to 2021, a decline eclipsed only by St. Louis among big cities and bucking a trend seen in other major cities across the country, Lucas said.
“But, this year already, our community has lost 15 of our sisters and brothers to homicide,” Lucas continued. “The answers here are not simple and extend beyond the talking points too often used by out-state politicians here in Missouri and beyond to discuss crime in America’s cities. I have promised before and recommit today: that every life in our city is special and I will never stop seeking every solution possible to save the lives of so many people, particularly young people, slaughtered in our streets.”
In violence reduction, the Kansas City Police Department plays a key and central role. Lucas said he does not, nor has he ever, believed in abolishing the police or defunding the police.
“But I do believe in accountability to ensure the civilian police commissioners appointed by Governor Mike Parson invest in proven crime fighting strategies, pay our officers and their families fair wages, and see the Department as responsive not to Jefferson City political interests, but to our residents and our taxpayers who know the crime on our streets all too well,” Lucas said.
In a decision last fall, a Jackson County judge advised the City that any budgeting changes in policing, including a pair of ordinances that together would have increased the KCPD budget, must be made at city budget adoption time.
“We are at that time and the budget proposal to be released tomorrow adopts the following on the police budget: the Budget provides for roughly $42 million in additional funding for the Kansas City Police Department above the state-mandated 20% of the City Budget,” Lucas said. “Based on discussion between myself and the Board of Police Commissioners, the extra $42 million will go toward community policing and prevention services and will include the following expenditure categories: funding to hire roughly 150 new Kansas City police officers over the year ahead; funding for pay raises for all officers and staff; $12.4 million in the Violent Crimes Division to fund officers and staff in the Special Victims, Domestic Violence, Sex Crimes, Homicide, Robbery, and Assault units to address violent crime and offer resources to the victims and families it affects; $6.6 million to fund the communications unit and increase pay for those that take all 911 emergency calls, so that Kansas Citians will not have to wait on hold when calling 911; and enhanced funding for community policing, including the Westside Community Action Network; community interaction officers; and other dedicated patrol and outreach officers.”
Kansas Citians want to know their police officers, want to see them in the community, and officers need more support and more staff to be able to do so, Lucas said. The Budget, as proposed, supports the areas community members frequently mention as the greatest needs from the department, including hiring of more officers.
“It allows you, our taxpayers, to see where our tax dollars are going, creating a collaborative path between the City, our Department under the leadership of our next police chief, and our community leaders for this and, hopefully, future budget cycles,” Lucas said. “I have no doubt that state leaders with little knowledge of, but great interest in, Kansas City will continue to attempt to divide our community on policing to advance their own political gain, but I know those of us who live here each day grieve with families impacted by shootings, and walk communities affected for generations by gun violence wanting to see peace. Your elected leaders in Kansas City do as well and will work non-stop until we get it.”
Lucas is looking forward to addressing violent crime by other methods, as well.
“I was glad to see the announcement of Kansas City’s new Health Director Dr. Marvia Jones, who has spent her career focused on violent crime and mental and behavioral health,” Lucas said. “As our Health Director, Dr. Jones will help accelerate the City’s ongoing efforts to build a healthier and safer community—recognizing that public safety and gun violence are among the leading health concerns in our city.”
The Budget reflects a significant investment in violence intervention, including more funding for the expansion of Aim4Peace, a conflict-resolution organization who will be able to use this funding to bolster focus areas and revive its street outreach team, helping to intervene in crime and deescalate potential retaliatory actions. With this increased City investment, Aim4Peace outreach staff will be able to respond to a higher volume of gunshot and violence-related trauma situations to reach community members that are at risk of being involved in future violence. Aim4Peace also counsels survivors and families affected by violence to promote hope and healing.
“We will invest in our young people, increasing our financial investment into community-based violence prevention and intervention initiatives that get to the root causes of crime,” Lucas said. “I recently had the opportunity to attend a session of ‘Becoming a Man,’ also known as BAM, at Ruskin High School. BAM is a proven, school-based, trauma-informed counseling and clinical mentoring program that seeks to change the life paths of students in grades 6-12, who have been exposed to cycles of intergenerational poverty, violence, and trauma.”
This year, BAM, and its sister organization “Working on Womanhood” or WOW, will receive increased funding to expand into more school districts, service more of Kansas City’s youth, and continue to provide a positive space for healthy conflict resolution.
“I think often that the greatest thing we can do in government is not some magic solution to all that ails us in society, but to support people where they are,” Lucas said.
The address, given virtually from Southeast High School in Kansas City’s Fifth District, just outside of Swope Park.
“Southeast has always meant a lot to me,” Lucas said. “It’s the school that educated my mother, much of my family, and it feels like dozens of Kansas Citians I meet each and every day. Today, Southeast High School is a key part of the resurgence of Kansas City Public Schools. I stand this evening in Southeast’s Restorative Justice Room: a space where students and their mentors every day gather to provide and receive support, particularly in times of real need.”
Through the leadership of its Board and Superintendent Mark Bedell, the District earned full accreditation earlier this year.
“While the accomplishment is being recognized in 2022, it is the result of years of dedication by teachers, coaches, staff members, parents, grandparents, and kids who have never given up on our families, our neighborhoods, and our city,” Lucas said. “Things can change for the better.”
Click here to watch the full Address.