KC mayor: Pay for police, not sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Mayor Mark Funkhouser renewed his call Thursday to curtail Kansas City's annual $2 million sports stadiums subsidy and to use that money instead for more police officers.

Funkhouser issued his recommendations for the next city budget, and generally praised acting City Manager Troy Schulte's budget plan.

But he disagreed with Schulte's idea to use tourism dollars in the next fiscal year to help pay for Truman Sports Complex maintenance. The payment would fulfill Kansas City, Mo.' s, long-standing gentleman's agreement with the county.

"We need to eliminate direct city funding to the Jackson County Sports Complex," Funkhouser wrote, echoing a refrain he's made since he got elected in 2007. "Kansas City residents no longer have the luxury of helping Jackson County meet its bills."

The mayor said the city should redirect that $2 million to pay for 40 additional police officers.

But other city council members said Thursday that the Chiefs and the Royals are vital city assets, and the city should meet its obligation to the county.

County officials said they expect the city will make its annual payment.

"We are confident that the council will do the right thing," said Calvin Williford, the county's chief of inter-governmental operations.

The council adopts a new budget in late March and it takes effect May 1.

Funkhouser said in his budget message that the city has been moving toward funding the public's priorities in recent years, as evidenced by "our recent outstanding snow response."

"With targeted spending," Funkhouser said, staff has shown that "Kansas City can deliver as well as, or better than, our suburban competitors on the most basic city service."

In his budget message, Funkhouser also called for a "blue ribbon commission" to study the city's pension fund shortfall and recommend remedies. And he said the city needs to reform its revenue structure, even if residents vote April 5 to renew the 1 percent earnings tax.