1st of 3 KCMO budget hearings held - KCTV5

1st of 3 KCMO budget hearings held

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Kansas City, MO, has a $1.4 billion budget for the coming year and Saturday Kansas Citians voiced their opinions on where that money should be spent.

"I'm glad to see that most of our city council members are here, listening and taking very seriously the group that came here to speak to them," said Kimberlee Ried.

Ried is one of about 20 Kansas Citians making sure the city budget includes funding for the arts.

"We want to make sure the $200,000 stays in the budget and funds additional staffing and programs provided by the city to the taxpayers. It's a benefit to the taxpayers," she said.

That art funding is just a tiny percent of the city manager's proposed $1.4 billion budget for 2014-15. But Troy Schulte said meetings like Saturday's are important for city leaders who divvy up citizens' dollars.

"It's critical. We need public input to make sure we are delivering services how and where they want it," Schulte said.

Gregg Lombardi with the Legal Aid of Western Missouri is also asking for a tiny slice of the budget and wanted to have his voice heard. He works to rehab abandoned homes in Kansas City.

"They're horrible magnets for crime. People break in and use them for meth houses, prostitution, all sorts of stuff," Lombardi said.

Legal Aid of Western Missouri will get $370,000 to fix up vacant homes next year, but Lombardi's asking for more.

"We have 7,000 properties, it only hits the tip of the iceberg. Because it saves the city money in terms of police, fire calls, increased tax revenues, it's a very good investment for the city. I'm confident it saves the city money," he said.

Council members like Jan Marcason said hearing from taxpayers helps as the council prepares to spend their money.

"We're trying to reach out in any way we can to get the broadest participation and input in our government," she said.

There are two more budget meetings.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to noon
Robert J. Mohart Multi-Purpose Center (auditorium)
3200 Wayne Ave., Kansas City, MO 64109

Saturday, March 1, 10 a.m. to noon
KCPD South Patrol Division (use main entrance)
9701 Marion Park Drive, Kansas City, MO 64137

The city council will pass a final budget in March.

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