Mayor proposes waiving fees for struggling local businesses

On Wednesday, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced a proposal directing the City Manager to review all annual licensing fees for the Kansas City service industry and small, locally-owned businesses.

If the proposal passes, the City Manager will be asked to identify fees eligible for deferral, reduction, or waiver for businesses that comply with Kansas City’s Emergency COVID-19 Executive Order.

“While we continue to take all the steps necessary to keep our families and neighbors safe, it is vital we remember the tough challenges our small businesses, the foundation of our community, are confronting to stay afloat and to maintain work for the women and men of our city,”  Lucas said.

Following a tweet by Mayor Lucas welcoming ideas on how to best support local businesses during this time, YUM a boutique bakery Owner An Zebley reached out to the mayor’s office with a proposal to waive permit fees for businesses that may be struggling during this time, which ultimately led to the creation of this proposal.

“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how badly COVID-19 has harmed our local business community, and I appreciate Mayor Lucas’s willingness to listen to the community to help alleviate a small cost burden for local businesses such as mine,” said Zebley. “Financial creativity is not new to small business owners. I’ve continued working to keep my bakery open, but because of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, I have had to scale back due to lack of staff and resources. This is in addition to the added costs of safely operating during a pandemic, increased cleaning, PPE, and other precautions. Fee waivers for 2021 would remove a small bit of financial pressure from not just my business, but from small businesses across our city. I encourage anyone with ideas on how to best help our local industry to continue contacting the Mayor’s Office.”

Lucas said he was glad Zebley reached out to his office with this suggestion, which has the potential to assist hundreds of businesses in the city. He encourages anyone with ideas, big or small, to share them with his office at MayorQ@kcmo.org.

“The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association supports Mayor Lucas’s resolution to review fees charged to businesses,” said Bill Teel, Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association Executive Director. “Any relief that can be provided to our Kansas City restaurants is both welcomed and needed.”

An example of annual fees associated with restaurants includes standard Food Code permit fee amounts, which are determined by size and type of business.

Since the first COVID-19 safety mandates went into effect in the spring, restaurants and other service industry businesses have struggled to adapt and comply with restrictions that have been put in place. Local restaurants from dive bars to expensive eateries have shuttered their operations, with a lucky few thriving on takeout orders.

“Throughout this pandemic, I have remained committed to doing all we can to help our service industry: from expanding outdoor seating to parklets and parking lots; permitting liquor-to-go; and allocating funds for loans and grants to keep our service industry alive, I am proud that Kansas City government has worked so quickly throughout this year to develop creative solutions to help our restaurants, taverns, bars, bakeries, and more,” Lucas said. “This proposal to review fee waivers for the year 2021 is yet another example.”

This proposal will be introduced via Resolution during next Thursday’s City Council meeting under First Readings and will be heard in the Special Committee for Legal Review on Thursday, December 10.

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