BOPC Discusses Proposal for 2022-2023 Requested Police Budget

Brynn Fitzsimmons

11/2/2021 - Kansas City, Missouri

File photo of the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Police Commissioners.

Photo by Andrei Stoica

Board will meet Thursday to discuss $272 million requested budget

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department Board of Police Commissioners will meet Thursday, November 4 at 3 p.m. via teleconference to discuss the department’s budget request to the city for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The board began discussing the proposal last week, and held a special meeting on Wednesday, October 27 to discuss the initial budget proposal memo (available here). That memo requested a total of $272,850,697, up from last year’s adopted budget of $256,773,275.

The board also approved a $300,000 transfer from the legal fund for this year’s budget, since the department went over their budget for legal expenses.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, the only board member to vote no on the transfer, said, “I just don’t think it’s a responsible form of expenditure to move something from the salary line item to lawyers and other professionals.”

He said he hopes future budget requests from the department would allocate funding for exclusively salaries, and not appropriate those dollars for anything else. This is especially true given the department’s struggles with staffing over the past year.

“I would prefer us not spending millions of dollars on legal expenses when we need to hire other folks,” Lucas said. “At City Hall, for example, when we were spending budget on (legal expenses), we had to go through a whole new program to make sure we weren’t sued as much.”

Police Chief Rick Smith explained that, especially given city budget cuts, most of the department’s funding goes to salaries. Had cuts not come out of salaries, he said only about $13 million would have been left to run the police department.

“We have to pay the bills, and we have to get that money from someplace, and we take that from salary savings,” he said.

Lucas noted the city owns the police department’s building and pays a portion of the utilities. He suggested it would be possible to approach the city about paying the rest of those expenses, but that he would want to see salaries as the top priority.

Last year’s staffing goal was 1413 officers, with the upcoming budget proposal’s goal at 1412 (although the board discussed 1220-1230 as more realistic).

“Recruiting is not going to be easy when we’re the lowest paid police department,” said Commissioner Cathy Dean.

Numbers presented at the meeting showed beginning salaries for area departments including: Lawrence, Kansas City, Kansas, Riverside, KU Med, Independence, Liberty, Blue Springs, Lees Summit, Overland Park, North Kansas City and Kansas City, Missouri. Lawrence had the highest starting salary ($50,840), and Kansas City, Missouri had the lowest ($43,404). In the past year, the department has lost approximately one member per week, although some of these losses are due to retirements.

View the October 27 budget memo here.

Published on: 11/2/2021