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Kansas City Council approves $450,000 to fight KCPD minimum funding hike | KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Council approved spending $450,000 on legal services to fight a state bill that would increase minimum funding for the Kansas City Police Department.

The ordinance passed 9-4, with council members Teresa Loar, Heather Hall, Dan Fowler and Brandon Ellington voting no.

The money would come from an unrestricted portion of the city’s general fund. That would allow the city to hire outside attorneys to fight the bill, which was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, whose district includes Platte and Buchanan counties.

Ellington questioned why the city wanted to spend money on attorneys when Luetkemeyer’s bill didn’t pass. Mayor Quinton Lucas said the city wanted to make sure it was in the best legal position in the event the bill passed.

The bill would increase the amount Kansas City is required to allocate to the KCPD from 20% to 25% of the city’s general revenue. It also contains language broadly defining the city’s “general revenue” as revenue that may include special taxes, fees, and other sources of funding.

Lucas argued during a Senate committee hearing earlier this month that the increased funding would not guarantee pay increases for police, but would simply allow the department to hire more lawyers and consultants. .

Lucas also worries that the city may not be able to redirect special funds — such as those collected at the airport or funds dedicated to a specific department like the Kansas City Fire Department — to the police department.

Luetkemeyer’s bill was introduced in response to moves last year by Lucas and the city council to reallocate $42.3 million from the KCPD’s $239 million budget to a community services and prevention fund. . The board also voted to provide an additional $3 million for a new academy class.

The Board of Police Commissioners sued to stop the reassignment. In October, Jackson County Circuit Judge Patrick Campbell ruled that the mayor and council acted unlawfully. Because state law says the KCPD is controlled by the state and not the city, Campbell said state law gives the Board of Police Commissioners — a five-member body made up of four appointed governors and the mayor – the exclusive management and control of the KCPD. .