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KCK mayor under fire for vehicle choice

KCTV5 News - Jan. 18, 2022.
KCTV5 News - Jan. 18, 2022.(KCTV5 News)
Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 3:52 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Tyrone Garner has been in office for about a month and already some residents are questioning his decisions.

Particularly, the vehicle he just bought with tax dollars. A KCK resident alerted KCTV to the purchase — and it’s been the topic of discussion on social media.

Because it’s not your “average” car. It’s a luxury Yukon Denali. He paid $85,569 — rather, the Wyandotte County taxpayers paid that.

And, some taxpayers are questioning the purchase because it appears to be the opposite of what Garner promised on the day he was sworn in.

“Streamline government, cut costs, cut out wasteful spending, and transfer those costs savings to you,” pledged Garner.

Garner campaigned on fiscal responsibility. On his campaign website, one of his goals is “a responsible 20% reduction of combined U.G. departmental expenses.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the Denali, it comes with all the extras you would expect in an $85,000 vehicle — leather seats, a nice sound system and a dual-pane sunroof. It can seat up to nine people comfortably.

We don’t know all the extras that are in the mayor’s vehicle, but it appears that $85,000 is the upper end of the model’s price range.

A frustrated taxpayer did an Open Records Act Request and got the sales invoice for the vehicle, then turned it over to KCTV. (See invoice.)

Look closely and you’ll see that the vehicle was purchased at a dealership in Lebanon, Missouri, near Springfield.

That same records request showed Garner’s predecessor, David Alvey, bought a Chevy Traverse for less than $32,000.

All this comes on the heels of another fiscal issue that has some Wyandotte County taxpayers questioning their government.

Former county administrator Doug Bach, who resigned last month, is getting more than $800,000 from a separation agreement.

And, there’s more. KCTV5 has learned the new county administrator, Cheryl Harrison-Lee, has a $1,600 monthly car allowance.

We reached out to the mayor and the county spokesperson but have not gotten a response. We also reached out to all the commissioners, but none responded. If we do hear from anyone, we’ll update this report.

UPDATE

Below is a response from the office of Tyrone Garner:

“The Unified Government Charter (Chapter 2, Article 1, Sec. 2-58) includes a longstanding provision to provide the Mayor with a vehicle while in office. In practice, this vehicle must not only be safe but capable of handling emergency conditions in case the Mayor is called into action in response to a local crisis. The vehicle of choice must also accommodate the Mayors staff, when needed. With the pandemic impacts on the automobile industry, prices are volatile and our typical channels for direct procurement were unavailable due to demand, requiring a dealer’s lot purchase. In light of limited local vehicle inventories, the purchase of this vehicle was reviewed by the Unified Governments legal department for validation and once obtained, the selection was made and purchase finalized per the Charter Ordinance. The vehicle is the sole and exclusive property of the Unified Government and will be reallocated for future use through the county fleet at the close of this administration.”

The Office of Tyrone Garner