(The Center Square) – Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas staved off criticism in successfully pushing through a plan to allocate 20% of the city’s general fund – more than $150 million – to the city’s police department but earmark anything above that for other expenditures.
Now, the mayor will have to successfully withstand a legal challenge from the state if his plan is to be implemented.
Missouri on Friday filed a lawsuit against Lucas, City Manager Brian Platt, Director of Finance Tammy Queen and the nine city council members who approved two proposals on May 20 to change how the city funds its police department.
Under the plan, anything over the state-mandated 20% general fund minimum allocation for law enforcement will go to a new Community Services & Prevention Fund that the city and a police board will determine how to spend.
The adoption of the measures removes $42.3 million directly out of the police budget but commits $45.3 million to be used by the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) for crime prevention, community engagement and outreach.
The lawsuit, filed in the Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, seeks to void the measures, return budgetary control to the board, and a temporary restraining order against the defendants requiring return of the funds.
It could receive a hearing as soon as this week.
The lawsuit maintains Lucas circumvented the city’s Board of Police Commissioners in submitting his proposals to the city council, which adopted them in 9-4 votes on the same day they were proposed, blindsiding dissenters with the unusual acceleration.
According to the state, Missouri statute grants exclusive management and control of the police department to a five-person board made up of Kansas City’s mayor and four gubernatorial appointees.
“The (police board of commissioners) has an existing, clear, and unconditional legal right in that, once the fiscal year 2021-22 budget was duly adopted by the board, that budget became the authorization of expenditures for the purposes set forth therein and no transfer from one character classification of expenditure in the board budget to another character classification was permitted without board approval,” the lawsuit reads.
According to the suit, the reallocation of funds above the 20% minimum to uses other than law enforcement would cause “irreparable harm” to the board’s management of the budget and necessitate cuts in staffing, purchasing, and operations.
Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, and Rep. Josh Hulbert, R-Smithville, have requested Gov. Mike Parson call for a special session to ensure the Kansas City “defunding” is derailed.
Lucas says the revised formula actually increases law enforcement spending by $3 million.
“We will continue to fight not to stay in the dark about where our money goes, what we’re doing and how the hell, once and for all, we can get out of this generational problem,” Lucas said. “We have a murder problem in Kansas City, and I’ll tell you I’m committed to solving it if it takes us going all the way to U.S. Supreme Court to do it.”
Lucas, a member of the five-panel board of police commissioners, was the lone dissenter in a Friday 4-1 vote to ask the state’s Attorney General office to file legal action on its behalf.