Mayor Sly James

Spring is a time for warmer weather, longer days, and of course the return of our World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals! Last fall our city gathered together to celebrate their historic season in an unforgettable way with nearly 800,000 fans crammed into downtown. I can’t wait to see what this season brings! I hope it’s enjoyable and safe for all fans.

Our city is gaining momentum like never before, and the earnings tax plays a significant role in our ability to keep that momentum going. This tax fairly asks everyone who benefits from city government services, whether they live here, work here or both, to support services they receive. The tax also helps pay for bridges and streets, parks and recreation, planning and infrastructure, and housing and neighborhoods. City government has been an efficient steward of the tax, and we’re getting better at that every day. It’s certainly a bleak future without the earnings tax, which has served Kansas City well for the past 50 years.

We’re also ramping up for another summer full of fun activities for our city’s youth. This year the Hire KC Youth Fair carries on the longstanding tradition of the annual Bright Future Summer Job and Internship Fair, focused on supplying youth with career training and summer job opportunities. To learn more about how you can get involved in this initiative, visit kcmo.gov/hirekcyouth/bright-future-internship-fair/.

Additionally, the fifth year of Club KC will kick off its festivities at the end of May with new locations and new events. To stay updated on dates and other details, check out kcmayor.org/mayorsnights.

Our city is on a roll that can’t be stopped and I can’t wait to see what sorts of success come our way this spring!

Sylvester "Sly" James

Bruce Campbell, Kansas City parking manager

Options evolve as downtown becomes denser

This is a story about supply and demand, lawsuits and gold lamé bikinis, solar-powered gadgets and districts with benefits.

Yes, we’re talking about downtown parking.

If you think maneuvering into a tight parallel space is as complicated as it gets, you’re in for a surprise.

“A lot has changed in the last 10 years,” notes Bruce Campbell, Kansas City parking manager, who says the Sprint Center, the Power and Light District, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and now the streetcar are bringing more drivers downtown as well as more infill development. The result is a little pushback from the public for a parking situation that is sometimes challenging.

“In the Midwest we have a culture that thinks parking should be free and in unlimited amounts,” says Campbell. “It’s a misguided concept to make that a goal, especially considering the density we want in Kansas City.”

First, a bit of history. The nation’s earliest parking meter or “mechanical timing device” debuted in Oklahoma City in 1935. Drivers were outraged but parked at the metered spots anyway, because that’s where they could find empty spots. A Los Angeles businessman sued his city when meters were installed seven years later, and in 1965 a Gold Coast town in Australia clad its meter maids in gold lamé bikinis to promote good will.

Although many things have changed since those first meters were installed, the practice has stayed the same. In Kansas City, the Police Department monitors more than 1,500 parking meters, mostly in the Central Business District. The meters currently charge $1 per hour; that fee may fluctuate in the future if a proposed demand-based pricing model is adopted.

Campbell, a parking management veteran of 15 years, says new technology is starting to address the challenges created by increased density. Some innovations, such as the ParkMobile app, already are in place; others are in progress. The ultimate challenge, though, is finding money to match the need.

“Nine years ago we converted four multi-space meters to smart devices, but we couldn’t expand that program because of funding,” Campbell says. “The technology has changed so much since then that we’re actually looking at a different type of meter, one that runs on solar power and will accept credit cards or payments through a mobile application.”

Joining the Public Works Department 10 years ago, he still sometimes gets cornered at a meeting or party by people asking about the best parking spots. Yes, he knows where they are (tip: the Arts District Garage at 17th and Broadway has over 1,000 spaces) but now he recommends the free ParkMobile app for paying at meters, or kcmo.clickandpark.com to reserve parking at any of the seven City-owned garages.

When the downtown streetcar begins carrying passengers, an online map scheduled to launch this spring should help drivers adapt and more easily locate parking spots. Other changes coming include an outsourced car-sharing program that will provide a fleet of cars parked in the public right of way for rent at $10 to $15 per hour. And the City is looking at establishing parking benefit districts—areas where the meter revenue is returned to the district to fund improvements such as sidewalks, curb ramps, lights and bicycle lanes. There’s also talk of a booting program to address chronic parking offenders in order to return revenue for the public good.

“Cars go in and cars go out, but there’s always something new going on—that’s what I like about parking,” Campbell says. “In the end, supporting economic growth is a key part of what municipal parking is all about.”

Downtown welcomes smart kiosks, free Wi-Fi

The largest deployment of smart city technology on planet Earth should be up and running this spring in Kansas City, and Bob Bennett is totally psyched. Read more.

Lights, camera, action!

Kansas City has rolled out the welcome mat to film and television companies by offering a new tax rebate to attract their business. Read more.

Water Services employees: Marcus Frazier, Richard Stuller, Johnny Sprinkles, Keith Al. Sr

Crews work in three shifts, including nights and weekends, to improve customer service

You don’t think about how nice it is to have clean drinking water at the touch of a tap until you don’t have it. That was the experience of residents on a south Kansas City cul-de-sac last fall as they wandered over, one by one, to a 5-foot-deep trench where a Water Services crew was working. How long, how long, how long will it be off? was the constant question.

The answer, “about one more hour,” involved installing a new valve, refilling the trench with gravel and performing a chlorine test as the crew—maintenance workers Marquan Washington, Marcus Grant, Thomas Westbrook and supervisor Richard Stuller—finished up. Their job was moving a 30-year-old blow-off valve from beneath a driveway to the street, replacing the old pipes with new material in the process.

This assignment was sandwiched between repairing 6-inch water mains in the 7800 block of Summit and the 7900 block of Main Street.

These are not easy jobs, and safety is a big issue. Heavy boards and a hydraulic pump are used to shore up the sides of any deep trenches, and traffic whizzing by is a constant hazard. Then there are the elements to contend with.

Such as mud, says Grant. “Lots of mud! On your face, your clothes, your shoes. And we don’t want to talk about wintertime.”

“Colder than a well digger’s butt,” comments Westbrook. “But the heat isn’t fun either when it gets to 100.”

During cold months the crew takes breaks in a heated truck, where they keep dry pairs of gloves warming on the dashboard. The Water Services Department does have a policy of not working outside when the temperature dips to 10 degrees unless it’s a Code 3 situation.

“Code 3 means there is damage being caused to property or someone’s out of water or a line break is causing dangerous ice,” explains Stuller. Unfortunately, ice happens at 10 degrees.

“We work in rain, sleet and snow,” says Grant. “Just like the mailman,” adds Westbrook.

Washington points out that another difficult aspect of maintaining the water lines is working around other lines for electricity, gas, cable and Google Fiber. Sometimes the crew must hand dig a spot, pausing to probe the dirt every 12 to 18 inches. Most everything is buried at a frost-free depth of 36 to 48 inches.

The department’s new emphasis on customer service means the maintenance crews work in three shifts, including night and weekend shifts. “At the end of the day we never leave a customer without water, and we do all main repairs within 30 days,” Stuller says.

Most of the pipes he and his crew deal with date back to the 1930s and ’40s, but some are even older. Lined up end to end, the City’s 2,800 miles of water mains are long enough to stretch from New York City to Los Angeles.

Sounds like pretty good job security, doesn’t it? Stuller, a former plumber, adjusts his hard hat and smiles. “I would say yes to that.”

Two crew members in this article, Marcus Grant and Thomas Westbrook, were temporary employees. The department occasionally hires extra staff to keep up with repair schedules.

Paseo Gateway aims to transform a neighborhood

A $30 million federal grant is being used to revitalize Kansas City’s historic Northeast. Read more.

Municipal Court gets makeover

The Kansas City Municipal Court opened its doors at 1101 Locust St. in 1973, but has had little renovation since then. Read more.

City projects boost minority, women-owned firms

As the City builds a new future through a variety of major construction projects, businesses owned by minorities and women are feeling the impact. Read more.

City Council priorities

City Council members share information about their priorities and ongoing projects. Here’s what they said: Read more.

Public Works investments

The employees of the Public Works Department work to guarantee the safe, efficient motion of the people of Kansas City. Read more.

Water Services investments

In the next five years the Kansas City Water Services Department will double its infrastructure investment in water, wastewater and stormwater projects to $1.8 billion. Read more.

Jocelyn Ball-Edson and Patrick McNamara, shown here in front of the Swope Memorial Fountain, are the caretakers of Kansas City’s magnificent display of fountains as well as monuments, plaques and ornamentation.

The care and repair of smiling children, snarling lions, creatures of the deep

When you’re famous, calls come from all over the country. Cincinnati wants to know the schedule for maintenance. North Carolina asks how the water is dyed. And Nashville inquires about restoration techniques.

Jocelyn Ball-Edson and Patrick McNamara often field such questions in their jobs as caretakers of Kansas City’s magnificent display of fountains as well as monuments, plaques and ornamentation.

It’s a hard-knock life for these outdoor art forms subject to the vagaries of weather, leaf and lawn debris, occasional vandalism and Father Time. The Parks and Recreation Department staff provide constant vigilance and care. Most of their efforts are aimed at regular cleaning, chlorinating, caulking and mechanical upkeep. But sometimes a major upgrade is needed.

Last year the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, the city’s best known and most photographed, received a total makeover. The fountain’s nine sculptures were removed from its Country Club Plaza location for cleaning and waxing, and the concrete pedestals, basin and pumps were repaired. Now the focus is on the Children’s Fountain. Last fall the fountain’s six bronze figures captured in playful poses were removed by crane, placed on a flatbed truck and hauled from the Northland to storage while the basin and lighting is renovated. The figures should be reinstalled in time for the annual spring Fountain Day celebration. Other ongoing renovations include the Volker Fountain on Brush Creek and the Block Fountain at Union Station.

Ball-Edson, senior landscape architect, and McNamara, maintenance superintendent, say the City’s fountains have a range of requirements. Some use a lot of water, some just a trickle (nearly all are recirculating); 10 are kept flowing year-round and make beautiful ice sculptures or shallow skating ponds during winter months, but most are turned off in October; some invite algae growth and those near heavy landscaping collect pollen, leaves and fallen flowers. The larger fountains occasionally attract coins, tennis balls, and (ahem) diapers and underwear.

The Parks Department maintains 48 fountains plus another 115 or so monuments and ornamental decorations, but the City of Fountains Foundation counts more than 200 “public” fountains in the metro area, including structures owned by private institutions and other municipalities. So how does that number compare worldwide? Are we really second or third highest, as often claimed?

“I don’t know,” says Ball-Edson. “I always say I’d like to go to Paris or Rome and do a count.”

Art was her first interest before becoming a landscape architect, and she still enjoys that aspect of the sculptures and monuments when she solicits advice on their care from the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, the Smithsonian Institute and other centers of expertise. Most of the restoration work is done by contractors and professional conservators, but McNamara oversees daily maintenance, repairs and water dyeing (created by Blue Valley Laboratories specifically for Kansas City).

While the fountains and monuments are decorative, the most interesting thing is that each tells a story—about sons and daughters lost during war, popular city leaders, everyday heroes and fantastic beasts from world mythology.

“The history behind them is intriguing,” says McNamara, who is especially fond of the Thomas Swope Memorial and the serene, sweeping view from its hilltop grounds. Ball-Edson likes the familiar sculptures, of course, but also the lesser known pieces like a snarling lion’s head at Observation Park in the Westside and an abstract stainless steel formation at 16th Street and Paseo that honors a high school student killed while preventing a robbery.

Sometime she’d like to publish a series of fountain and monument brochures based on themes: children, dogs and horses, angels and cherubs, and such. “I’d tell how they got there, why and who built them,” she says.

It would be an ongoing project—she knows that much. “On the table right now are three new fountain proposals. There’s no shortage of ideas and creativity in Kansas City,” she says.

Land Bank begins to change the landscape

New and innovative uses for abandoned houses and vacant lots are being championed by the Land Bank, the City agency whose goal is to get these properties back on the tax rolls. Read more.

Banner sales boost the fountains

Every spring the city’s public fountains come back to life as the Board of Parks and Recreation celebrates Fountain Day. Read more.

Joe Williamson, operations manager for the Health Department’s Environmental Public Health Program.

His team of inspectors helps keep the city safe

When Joe Williamson or one of his team members walks into a favorite restaurant, they’re sometimes greeted with apprehension. “You here to eat or work?” they get asked. That’s because these City employees are responsible for inspecting some 3,600 food establishments on a regular basis.

“Actually, most restaurants take great pride that a food inspector wants to eat there,” says Williamson, who is operations manager for the Health Department’s Environmental Public Health Program. He cites an alarming statistic from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Every year 3,000 people in this country die from a food-borne illness. And that 24-hour “flu” you suffer from time to time? He says that’s often an episode of food poisoning.

“Every single thing we do directly affects whether someone gets sick, or God forbid, dies. When my staff and I go home, we know we’ve done something important—it’s a pretty rewarding feeling,” Williamson says.

During a typical work visit, an inspector arrives unannounced to observe food handlers, check temperatures of coolers and freezers, and verify proper cooking and storage procedures. Eateries with a good record and a low risk of violations are inspected once a year. High risk places are inspected every few months.

Beyond restaurants, inspections are made at school and hospital cafeterias, stadium snack bars, grocery store delis, food trucks, temporary events like food festivals and pop-ups—any place in the city that sells food. The Health Department also offers training for food handlers and managers, and last year some 80,000 people in the food business were educated.

“We started doing a pre-test,” Williamson notes. “It’ s amazing how many participants don’t know as much as they thought they did.”

In addition to food inspections, the same 16-member team performs health checks on “recreational waters,” including swimming pools, spas, hospital therapy pools, spray parks, fitness centers, homeowner association pools, and Oceans of Fun—657 in all. They also inspect 462 childcare facilities, administer the City’s smoking and noise ordinances, and keep a watchful eye on 10 companies that haul waste from septic tanks and portable toilets to the City’s wastewater treatment plants. They even do sanitation checks at 101 bed and breakfast inns, hotels and motels, looking for bedbugs and other pests. Inspections are required before any of these businesses receive permits to begin operations.

Williamson began working for the City about 20 years ago in Water Services, including a stint with “the sewer police” who track down large globs of industrial waste or restaurant kitchen grease improperly draining into the sewage system. He later joined the Health Department, serving as a field supervisor and a codes enforcement manager before being promoted to his current position.

“It’s changed my entire life in the kitchen. I cook with a thermometer and never thaw anything at room temperature,” he says. “I use a bottle of bleach and water solution to wipe down my counters and have separate pans for raw and cooked meat.”

Williamson points out that 60 percent of all food-borne illness happens at home. And it’s his team’s job to keep citizens safe when they order from a menu. He and his co-workers have been cussed at, threatened with guns and surprised by a full-sized deer (road kill) stuffed in a commercial freezer. Their weirdest experience? A staff member once called to report a row of small, skinned animals hanging from the rafters of an unfinished restaurant basement. By the time Williamson arrived, they were gone.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the restaurant owner said.

It’s good to know the Environmental Public Health Program is on the lookout for us.

Defining health in the 21st century

Smallpox, malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis—Kansas City has seen its share of health problems since the first city physician was appointed 150 years ago. Read more.

Get caught up on your City taxes with no penalties

You can get caught up on your Kansas City taxes without paying penalties if you come forward first. Read more.

Providing for pollinators

A few months ago Mayor Sly James added a new bowtie to his collection—one that resembles a monarch butterfly. Read more.

The seven most common 311 questions

Here’s the scoop on towed cars, missed trash pickups, barking dogs, leaf and brush collection rules, bulky items pickups and 311 mobile van requests. Read more.

More sophisticated than any other city

The largest deployment of smart city technology on planet Earth should be up and running this spring in Kansas City, and Bob Bennett is totally psyched.

“This is a game changer,” he says. “I don’t know where it’s going, because it’s opening so many doors simultaneously. We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s going to be cool.”

Bennett, who joined the City in January as chief innovation officer, says Cisco Systems and a dozen other companies are partnering with KCMO on the smart city initiative. The most visible feature is a series of 25 digital kiosks scattered throughout downtown.

He describes them as 7-foot-tall iPhones. Each is fully interactive with a touch screen and rotating information on restaurants, nearby attractions and general downtown information. The kiosks also can be used to make 311 requests for City services, purchase tickets for an upcoming event or find directions. Plus, smart phone users can download an app that will customize the kiosk’s content according to an individual’s desires.

Programming for the kiosks is split between messages from the City and paid advertising. The kiosks function as individual entities, each with the ability to target content for a particular area during a specific time period. It’s an easy and inexpensive way for local businesses to try different campaigns to determine which work best with the public.

Thirteen kiosks are being placed along the 2-mile streetcar route (the “spine” of the smart city initiative) and 12 are in other locations stretching from the Crossroads Arts District to the River Market.

According to Bennett, the data collected from the kiosks—how many people are looking at them and how they’re using the information—will be crucial to developing further innovative technologies. He says this aspect of the smart city initiative is attracting technology startups from across the globe to test their concepts here as KCMO becomes an open data “living lab.” Another big game changer is a free Wi-Fi network along the streetcar route installed by Sprint. The network extends east to City Hall and west to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. A Wi-Fi repeater in each of the four streetcars ensures that log-in data for passengers remains consistent.

The kiosks and free Wi-Fi are part of a $15.7 million public-private partnership. The kiosk debt should be retired in 10 years, and any future income generated by advertising will likely be used to expand the smart city area, Bennett says. A map of kiosk locations is at kcmo.org/smartcity.

Before becoming chief innovation officer, Bennett had a long military career. He says in many ways, working for the City is similar to the Army. Both operate with a relatively small workforce compared to the amount of work expected. Both have amazingly skilled and multi-talented people. And both are data-driven organizations that focus on results over process. “When you get to the end of a project, it’s just the starting point for the next one,” he observes.

He shares his City Hall office with Kate Garman, innovation analyst, who graduates in May with a law degree from UMKC and will continue to work with him on policies and ordinances necessary to support innovations.

“I’ve moved 22 times in 25 years since joining the Army, and I’ve seen a thousand different ways to do things,” says Bennett, who cites years of “nation-building” responsibilities such as coordinating and synchronizing jobs programs, law enforcement, agricultural systems and the oil industry in Bosnia, Iraq, Kurdistan, Russia and Kazakhstan.

“Now I have the chance to do nation-building at home,” he says.

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City offers new incentives to film industry

Kansas City has rolled out the welcome mat to film and television companies by offering a new tax rebate to attract their business.

In recent years the city has lost millions of dollars to other parts of the country where producers go to find similar rebates, says Councilman Scott Wagner, who observes, “Now we’re leveling the playing field so we can boost our growing arts reputation, harness our digital technology assets, and spur more economic activity.”

The rebate, officially known as the Film Development Program, is a joint venture between the City and VisitKC, which houses the Kansas City Film + Media Office. According to Steph Scupham, film commissioner, the program not only will make Kansas City a more film-friendly location—it also will promote our unique features and neighborhoods and increase the number of local jobs in the industry.

The ordinance creating the rebate program was heavily researched, says Megan Crigger, director of the City’s Office of Culture and Creative Services. She notes the program was developed only after many interviews with members of the local, state and national film community. The program also includes benchmarks for evaluation to make sure goals are being met.

Productions that qualify can earn rebates between 3.5 and 7 percent of the value of specific local expenses. The program is performance-based and must fulfill qualifying parameters including minimum levels for money spent in KCMO, local hotel nights booked, the percentage of shooting done in Kansas City, and the number of cast and crew members hired.

A unique feature of the program is a requirement to provide learning opportunities (such as a panel discussions or outreach seminars) for emerging artists and young people interested in the industry.

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A $30 million federal grant is being used to revitalize Kansas City’s historic Northeast. About two-thirds of the money will support new and renovated housing, but the rest goes to programs for better health care, education, security and job training.

It’s a new model—called Choice Neighborhoods—for how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development works with local agencies. Katherine Carttar of the City Planning and Development Department explains: “Previous grants focused solely on housing. What makes the Choice Neighborhoods grant so unique is the ability to devote $9 million to support services and neighborhood enhancements.” It’s this flexibility, she says, that turns a replacement housing project into an opportunity for a holistic neighborhood transformation. Community partners helping out include the Housing Authority of Kansas City, United Way of Greater Kansas City, LISC and Brinshore Development.

The project covers roughly 1 square mile and is dubbed Paseo Gateway. This summer the Housing Authority will begin relocating residents from the run-down Chouteau Courts housing complex so it can be demolished. Replacement housing includes mixed income units being built on sites scattered throughout the grant area and in the Northland. “The whole idea is to give people more choice about housing—townhouse or apartment, city or suburb,” Carttar says. “Some units are brand new and some are renovated. They’re split equally between public housing, affordable housing and market rate.”

Additional key components of the project include:

  • Realigning the intersection of Independence Avenue and the Paseo (The City is contributing $5 million toward this.)
  • Removing two troublesome motels (Kansas City University purchased and demolished the Capri last year as part of a $60 million campus improvement plan, and the City Council approved $2.7 million to purchase and demolish the Royale Inn.)
  • Strengthening businesses along the Independence Avenue corridor, perhaps with a business incubator, a shared commercial kitchen and an ambassador program.
  • Increasing access to health care and improving health outcomes, increasing kindergarten to career readiness, and working to make the households of Chouteau Courts more economically stable and self-sufficient.
  • Improving Kessler Park with more bike trails and better connections to downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

Described as “the Ellis Island of Kansas City” for its diverse population (children at Garfield Elementary speak 22 different languages), the area is full of potential, Carttar says. “My goal is to connect the dots of all the great things already going on.”

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The Kansas City Municipal Court opened its doors at 1101 Locust St. in 1973, but has had little renovation since then. That changed last fall when a construction project kicked off that will transform the courthouse experience for everyone who enters the building.

“The Municipal Court is one of the City’s busiest facilities,” says Court Administrator Megan Pfannenstiel. “For many residents it represents their City government in action. The scheduled improvements are designed to advance the safety, longevity and accessibility of the courthouse and make it more customer-friendly.”

The construction effort is comprised of two separate projects, but their back-to-back timing will make it seem like one ongoing venture to the public.

The first phase, which will be completed this spring, involves federally mandated upgrades to keep City facilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some ADA renovations will be minor, like replacing doorknobs with levers. Others will be more noticeable, like installing stairs in place of the building’s 40-year-old escalators, which no longer comply with newer ADA regulations.

The 11th Street entrance will remain closed as the Court enters the second renovation phase. Missing ceiling and floor tiles, rusted pipes and a heating system that doesn’t quite work will be replaced. Other upgrades will improve energy efficiency and allow for better use of spaces left dormant since 2011 when the Court adopted automated case management and stopped processing and storing paper tickets.

The plans also call for a more open lobby with improved security stations, an automated kiosk and line queuing system in the cashier area, and a larger courtroom for the Housing and Animal Court, which handles a rapidly growing docket of housing, fire and animal safety code violation cases.

This second phase will be paid for by a special court fee approved by the Missouri Legislature and enacted by the City Council last year. St. Louis City Municipal Court has had a similar fee in place since 2001. For more information, visit kcmo.gov/court.

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As the City builds a new future through a variety of major construction projects, businesses owned by minorities and women are feeling the impact. According to last year’s Minority/Women Business Enterprise Report, these businesses are being included in City initiatives at a 5 percent higher rate than the previous year.

That’s great news, especially combined with a report from the Water Services Department announcing a 300 percent increase in the number of minority, women and small businesses that have advanced from the role of subcontractor to prime contractor as the department rolls out a 5-year $1.8 billion capital improvement plan. Some 32,000 jobs will be impacted by this construction activity, officials say.

Water is just one department that’s shaping the future of city. Other jobs have resulted from building a new police station and crime lab on the Leon Jordan campus, the downtown streetcar and One Light Tower. These projects are bringing improved outreach, positive relationships and millions of dollars in contracts benefitting local minority and women-owned firms.

Highlights from the enterprise report include:

  • Minority and women-owned firms were awarded more than $262 million or 23 percent of the total $1.14 billion in construction, professional services and commodities procurement opportunities through the City and various related agencies.
  • There are about 600 certified minority and women-owned firms in the City directory.
  • The overall participation rate of minority and women business enterprises of about 29 percent on KCMO contracts in FY 2014-15 represents a 5.2 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.

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City Council members share information about their priorities and ongoing projects. Here’s what they said:

Scott Wagner
Mayor Pro Tem ; 1st District at-large

During the 2015-2019 term I am serving as both mayor pro tem and chair of the City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee. I have a number of priorities for the term including infrastructure improvements to the 1st District such as North Woodland Avenue, Parvin Road and the KC North Community Center.

Additional priorities I’m working on include veterans issues, homelessness, international business development and housing.

I’ve also been involved in supporting development of the MAPIT Mural Arts Program, an anti-graffiti youth program that has resulted in several murals being done throughout the city.

Heather Hall
1st District

Public safety, infrastructure and entrepreneurship are the foundation of my service to the people in my district. I continue to work with KCPD to ensure police have the proper tools to serve and protect our citizens. I have also begun the work on building a new KCFD fire station in the northeast section of the 1st District. Sidewalks are a big deal, especially in the southern portion of the district, so construction on sidewalks in the North Kansas City School District will begin this summer.

Other projects I’m working on include developing a plan to create a new athletic complex/community center and building Class A office space to enhance local business development and to drive business to the Northland.

Beginning this spring, I will hold office hours at Barista Café located inside the Woodneath Library Center at 8900 Flintlock Ave., KCMO 64157. I look forward to meeting with you the third Monday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (excluding holidays, November and December).

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your councilwoman.

Teresa Loar
2nd District at-large

The economic future of Kansas City is bright and I am happy to be a part of all of the progress our city is making.

This will be an exciting year for the 2nd District with the construction of a new police station, Menard’s, Costco and the continued expansion of our award-winning trail system. I am optimistic that we will see progress in the redevelopment of the Metro North Mall site, and I will continue to work towards an agreeable construction plan for the Kansas City International Airport.

As chair of the Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Jobs Committee, I support our home-grown businesses and want to make sure that Kansas City is a great place for entrepreneurs to get their start and continue to grow.

Dan Fowler
2nd District

I am committed to building/maintaining strong neighborhoods that attract people from all areas and give families a place to grow within their communities. It is important that we focus on revitalization of current neighborhoods in this city, especially those in the south part of the 2nd District.

Infrastructure is fundamental for our city’s economy. We will only enhance our living conditions by constructing foundations for a successful city. Whether these be roads, bridges, airports, telecommunications or energy infrastructure, they are necessary to ensure a successful and fully operating, efficient city. To that end, one of my main priorities is to continue the development of Twin Creeks. The Twin Creeks watershed has the greatest potential for development in the entire city. It should be built out in an orderly, well planned way that will draw people from across the nation.

Another priority is jobs, and we need more in the Northland. We will continue to search for businesses to locate in the I-29 corridor and on the nearly 11,000 acres of land around KCI.

Quinton Lucas
3rd District at-large

I am honored to serve as one of your at-large councilmembers, proudly hailing from Kansas City’s 3rd District.

My colleagues and I have focused extensively on issues affecting much of the city, including addressing neighborhood blight, supporting reinvestment in our aging infrastructure, and working to grow small business opportunities and economic development throughout Kansas City. A good deal of my work also has involved review of Kansas City’s public transportation system and how well we do at getting people of all ages, particularly those who do not drive, to where they need to be.

If ever you want to chat, please feel free to stop by during my weekly office hours, Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9 a.m., at the Gregg-Klice Community Center at 17th Street and The Paseo.

Jermaine Reed
3rd District

As a member of the council representing the 3rd District, I am committed to stabilizing, sustaining and revitalizing our community.

My plan to fulfill this commitment includes the following:

  • Providing access to affordable and healthy food options
  • Creating living-wage jobs for residents on local and federal projects and supporting small business startups
  • Investing in public transportation and economic development along transportation corridors by funding and launching the Prospect Max Bus Service
  • Eliminating blight by demolishing and rehabbing abandoned buildings and improving trash pickup and services
  • Overseeing investment in the urban core’s aging infrastructure Creating decent, affordable quality housing
  • Building the capacity of neighborhood and community based organizations
  • Strengthening relationships between the community and public safety officials
  • Increasing neighborhood policing resources
  • Revitalizing urban corridors including 18th Street, 22nd Street, Prospect Avenue and Troost Avenue
  • Preserving the 18th & Vine District

Katheryn Shields
4th District at-large

The 4th District encompasses the oldest parts of the city, both north and south of the Missouri River. In many ways, the 4th is a microcosm reflecting the challenges of the city as a whole.

I have always been concerned with environmental sustainability and historic preservation—two concerns that come together in important ways when addressing ongoing issues like economic development and building strong, safe neighborhoods.

We cannot save a neighborhood by tearing it down, one house at a time. Some abandoned properties cannot be preserved, but demolition should be a last resort. Demolition too often leaves an empty lot too small for rebuilding and a drain on community resources. Without thoughtful planning, it can also leave a neighborhood empty of both people and pride.

That is why I strongly support programs to rehabilitate and reuse abandoned residential stock. Programs that reduce ownership by neglectful absentee landlords and encourage affordable housing should be a top priority. Strong, safe neighborhoods are not just important to those who live there. They are the building blocks that create a great city.

Jolie Justus
4th District

I remain committed to building healthy communities and improving the overall quality of life for all Kansas Citians by empowering neighborhoods and getting the best return on the City’s investments.

The Cliff Drive Scenic Byway, located in Kessler Park in the historic Northeast, continues to be a family-friendly destination that contributes to Kansas City’s livability and beauty. Cliff Drive provides nearly five miles of paved road surrounded by forest and rock walls and is maintained through volunteer efforts and the Kansas City Parks Department. Each weekend the gates along Cliff Drive are closed to motor vehicles so pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy the area unimpeded with friends and family. Within the last year, Cliff Drive has closed off the westbound lane for two-way pedestrian and bike traffic, in addition to opening up a new trail and establishing bike signage.

Investing in this valuable resource will continue to be an important project for the 4th District and for all of Kansas City.

Lee Barnes, Jr.
5th District at-large

I plan to work with my colleagues and City staff to facilitate successful development of the Prospect Corridor and the 63rd Street and Prospect/Citadel site, and assist community based developers in building our housing stock, especially the urban core of the 5th District. We should continue sustainable water projects in the Marlborough area such as Target Green East Marlborough and Target Green West Marlborough, and locate funding for a community liaison to assist with overall community development.

I also plan to:

  • Work with representatives from the U.S. General Services Administration to define and address any environmental issues at the Bannister Federal Complex
  • Investigate the waterwheel-powered trash interceptor manufactured by Clearwater Mills LLC to determine if we can develop a specific design and project plan that would benefit the City, especially in Brush Creek.
  • Work with the Country Club Right-of-Way Advisory Committee, Marlborough Neighborhood leaders and Councilwoman Alissia Canady on ways to connect the Trolley Track Trail to the Marlborough Neighborhood.
  • Address blight in the eastern portion of the district, especially the shopping centers at Loma Vista, Robandee and 94th Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard.

Alissia Canady
5th District

As chair of the newly combined Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee, I am working to address quality of life issues. We must revitalize our older neighborhoods. I am working with the mayor and city manager to establish a rehab loan fund to encourage home ownership in severely distressed areas. Immediately, I created a diversion program for code violations. When eligible seniors, disabled or otherwise indigent residents find themselves in violation of housing code ordinances, there will be a staff person to assist them by coordinating resources to address the violation. This alleviates blight and financial hardship on residents who are committed to their communities.

I am committed to catalytic economic development that creates jobs and supports business growth. I led the negotiation that secured the commitment of hiring 30 percent of Kansas City residents on the anticipated convention hotel. Since then I have worked to create policies that would encourage local hiring on all publically funded development projects. There is a $250,000 allocation in the submitted budget to obtain the necessary local workforce study.

Scott taylor
6th District at-large

My focus and commitment continues to be encouraging economic growth that improves the quality of life in your local neighborhood. As chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee, I would like to see neighborhood-friendly development that brings more people, local small businesses, jobs and investment into Kansas City to strengthen our neighborhoods and increase revenues so we can maintain and improve our basic city services for neighborhoods and our citizens.

We all have a stake in the future of Kansas City and need to work together to make this happen. Last fall, I held the first-ever community planning and zoning listening session centered on receiving input from neighborhood leaders. I plan to hold more sessions citywide.

New significant business growth in South Kansas City and major public investments we made at the South Patrol Police Station and the Bay Water Park have led in part to the opportunity for revitalizing neighborhood shopping centers such as Red Bridge, Watts Mill and Ward Parkway, which will bring family-friendly spaces, better grocery options, restaurants and local small business growth. We need to do more and keep the momentum going. As an at-large council member who, like the mayor, represents the entire city, I believe we need all parts of the city to succeed for Kansas City to continue to grow.

Kevin Mcmanus
6th District

was born and raised in the 6th District, which I represent as vice chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, co-chair of the Legislative Committee, and member of the Finance and Governance Committee. I see these roles as interrelated in achieving one of my top priorities: addressing the significant needs in our city’s infrastructure and transportation systems. Given Kansas City’s immense geographic size and its aging infrastructure, improvements must be made through a combination of federal, state and city funding and by leveraging private investment.

Improving our infrastructure will pay big dividends. It will not just make our city more livable and accessible for our residents, but will also drive economic growth and development. The 6th District has already seen tremendous job growth following major infrastructure investment. I hope to build on these successes with future projects, such as the widening of the 155th Street corridor and the expansion of the Richards-Gebaur Commerce Park.

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The employees of the Public Works Department work to guarantee the safe, efficient motion of the people of Kansas City. Whether patching potholes, striping bicycle lanes or rebuilding aging roadways, Public Works is dedicated to helping the people of Kansas City move.

Although major construction is complete as the Kansas City streetcar begins service downtown, the Public Works Department is still hard at work improving Main Street. Improvements to signal timing and pedestrian crossings, including bicycle signals at Petticoat and Main and adaptive signals that adjust timing to traffic and pedestrian needs throughout the corridor, will help make Main Street an accessible, safe thoroughfare.

Design and right-of-way work is underway for the next phase of improvements to the 22nd-23rd Street corridor. The planned improvements, which will begin construction in 2017, are the third segment of a larger corridor improvement project. Crews will transform the roadway between Brooklyn Avenue and Chestnut Avenue from a two-lane local roadway to two lanes with bike lanes and grassy medians. The upgrade includes the installation of sidewalks, better streetlights, new curbs and gutters, landscaping, and new water main and storm sewer improvements.

The 20th Street reconstruction and streetscape project gets underway this spring. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2017, and will use pedestrian green space and bump-outs, bicycle lanes and rain gardens to turn 20th Street into a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare.

Crews are preparing to start work on the Woodswether Bridge rehabilitation project over the Union Pacific Railroad. The planned repairs to the deck and substructure will add years to the life of the aging bridge and reaffirm the City’s dedication to maintain the bridges of the Central Industrial District.

Work is currently underway on the North Jackson Avenue improvement project. The extensive project will enhance and upgrade North Jackson Avenue from Vivion Road to the Gladstone city limits. Crews will install curbs, gutters and sidewalks, build an enclosed storm sewer system and reconstruct the roadway to improve sight distances and enhance safety for drivers. Work is scheduled for completion in late 2016.

Construction on Blue Parkway and Eastwood Trafficway will continue through 2016. The project replaces a box culvert, widens the intersection and updates traffic signals. The improvements will help address the aging infrastructure and increased traffic in the area.

The next phase of the 135th Street improvement project is now under construction. The second phase of the project will widen the roadway from two to three lanes between Oak Street and Wornall Road, adding curbs, sidewalks and storm drainage to the busy commercial street. In addition, new streetlights and intersection signals will help make 135th a safe, convenient street for patrons of the Martin City business district.

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In the next five years the Kansas City Water Services Department will double its infrastructure investment in water, wastewater and stormwater projects to $1.8 billion. “This investment means stronger neighborhoods, economic vitality and jobs for our citizens,” says Terry Leeds, Water Services director, who notes that improving the system will enhance reliability and better serve customers.

Updating the past

Like many cities across the country, Kansas City faces significant challenges due to its aging water infrastructure. The first water mains were installed in the late 1800s, and some of those pipes are still in use today. As a result, Water Services has developed a long-term, strategic plan to improve system reliability for customers. Through its Water Main Replacement Program, the department’s goal is to proactively replace 28 miles of break-prone pipe each year. When you see crews digging alongside the streets in your neighborhood, it’s likely they’re removing old pipes and installing modern water mains.

Meeting present requirements

Kansas City is also one of many cities ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to control its sewage overflows into local creeks and rivers. In a bold, innovative move, officials here devised one of the nation’s largest green infrastructure projects to solve this problem—and early data shows it’s working. Improvements such as curbside rain gardens, cascades and permeable sidewalk pavement are controlling overflows and benefitting neighborhoods at the same time.

An additional piece of the department’s 25-year Overflow Control Program begins this spring. Called “Keep Out the Rain KC,” it provides an opportunity for property owners in certain areas to volunteer for an evaluation of their plumbing connections. Improper connections contribute to the overflow of diluted sewage water into our environment and cause sewage backups in homes and businesses.

If a bad connection is identified and if it’s cost-effective to correct, the connection will be eligible for a free repair by a licensed, pre-qualified plumber while the program is taking place. Property owners within the initial work areas will begin to receive information on scheduling an evaluation with Water Services’ contractors in mid-April as work begins in their neighborhoods.

Providing for the future

The department has scheduled 149 water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects totaling $326 million for Fiscal Year 2017. These projects will improve water quality and protect public health. They’ll also promote economic development and serve our children and our children’s children.

“We’re doing this work for our current customers and we’re doing it for those to come,” says Andy Shively, engineering officer. “That’s what drives me, because it transcends generations. What we’re doing now will last for a hundred-plus years.” He adds, “Our method in reaching our goals continues to be: on time, on schedule and whenever possible, under budget.”

Shively and other officials recently outlined a detailed list of projects in the Capital Improvement Program for the department’s upcoming fiscal year. The majority of 66 water contracts announced are for distribution (water main replacement), with a smaller number for treatment, pump stations, transmission and storage. Another 66 contracts focus on wastewater, with more than half targeted for the collection system (including overflow control). And the remainder of the contracts are for 17 stormwater projects, including flood risk management, channels and trails.

To learn more about Kansas City’s investment in water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, visit kcwaterservices.org.

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New and innovative uses for abandoned houses and vacant lots are being championed by the Land Bank, the City agency whose goal is to get these properties back on the tax rolls.

Houses for $1

The phones were ringing constantly after the Land Bank recently plucked some 135 foreclosed houses from the City’s dangerous buildings list and offered to sell them for a dollar each. Most of the houses are located in the urban core and have been vacant for years. Many have been vandalized, and some have been partly burned. They’ll probably require new roofs, windows and doors, plus major electrical and plumbing repairs. Still, one dollar!

“The price is right—it’s the sweetest deal you’ll ever get,” says Ted Anderson, Land Bank director, who expects the bargain sale to help continue the revitalization of historic neighborhoods like Pendleton Heights, Ivanhoe, Santa Fe, Marlborough, Wendell Phillips and Washington Wheatley.

According to Anderson, do-it-yourself buyers should expect to invest about $30,000 to $40,000 to bring the houses up to code. They’ll receive an $8,500 rebate (equal to the City’s average demolition cost) for each structure if an owner-occupant lives there for three years. The Land Bank has an additional 600 homes for sale, but these are not on the dangerous buildings list and do not come with a rebate.

Anderson says many buyers are more interested in a particular neighborhood than the condition of the house. “We subscribe to the theory of organic development,” he says, explaining that communities should be empowered to help create their own futures. With this goal in mind, the Land Bank asks neighborhood associations for their opinions on applicants who want to purchase vacant lots and houses. All applicants, including the dollar house buyers, must be approved by the Land Bank Board before any property can be transferred. If more than one person is interested in the same property, the board makes a decision based on how reasonable the scope of work seems, the applicant’s qualifications, and family ties to the neighborhood.

Demolition boost

Certain houses and other structures acquired by the City through foreclosure are too damaged to repair. Their presence in the middle of neighborhoods or business districts blights efforts to make these areas cleaner and safer.

“Nobody wants a bunch of vacant lots in their neighborhood, but having a dangerous building next to your house is terrible,” Anderson says. “We want to save as many as we can, but some are too far gone.”

The City Council is considering a $10 million bond issue to eliminate some 800 registered dangerous buildings during the next two years. Meanwhile, private companies are volunteering their services. Kissick Construction, which demolished 10 houses last year for free, has challenged other members of the local Heavy Constructors Association to do the same. The City already has identified 100 houses that are not worth trying to save, says Anderson. As soon as staff cut off all utilities and dispose of environmental contaminants, they’re ready to come down.

Poplar forests

Five years from now Anderson hopes to see “little farms, scattered orchards and happy green spaces” where weedy lots and blighted buildings now stand. A pilot project that might contribute toward this vision begins this spring when hybrid poplar trees will be planted at five sites totaling one acre. The fast-growing trees will help remediate environmental problems by filtering stormwater and pulling toxins from the soil, and they’ll also add a beautiful, parklike atmosphere to the neighborhood. But their thin, straight trunks are the main appeal—these can be harvested in about 12 years to provide wood pulp and products such as pallets and closet poles.

The Land Bank is partnering on the poplar plantings with Fresh Coast Capital, a Chicago-based investment firm that specializes in revitalizing Midwestern and Rust Belt urban areas through urban farms and other types of “working landscapes.” Anderson learned about the firm last year at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference in Detroit. He says the Land Bank was considering paying for reforestation of some abandoned lots, and jumped at the chance to involve the private sector instead. If the trees grow well during the pilot project, the City will sign a 15-year lease for a portion of its 2,400 vacant lots for growing mini-poplar forests.

Global gardens

Last spring several vacant lots in the Lykins neighborhood northeast of downtown were planted with a huge variety of vegetables including daikon radish, bitter melon and Thai red roselle—uncommon edibles for most people but not for the immigrants from Bhutan, Mauritania and Myanmar who grow them.

Betsy Thomas coordinates their efforts through the Global Gardens Project, an initiative of Jewish Vocational Services which leases the lots from the Land Bank. Thomas says the gardens provide healthy food, exercise and a sense of purpose for immigrants who are resettled in Kansas City through a federal program. “Being at the garden is good. I have a job to do there,” says one woman, while another adds, “I shared a lot of produce…I am very happy.”

The project plans to double its size this year, and some growers may try selling vegetables at the Northeast Farmers’ Market this summer.

Tiny houses for vets
A community of 36 tiny houses is coming soon to an area at 89th Street and Troost Avenue. Chris Stout and Kevin Jamison purchased the 4-acre tract from the Land Bank for $500—“a heckuva deal”—says Stout, who describes the 220-square-feet structures as “just a smaller version of any other home.”

He and Jamison founded the nonprofit Veterans Community Project for homeless vets. In addition to providing individual living spaces, they’ll help arrange treatment for substance abuse and post-traumatic stress, as well as guidance in reintegrating into society.

The tiny homes will be built onsite starting in May. Stout says they hope to have a model home open for tours and donations by mid-April.

Contact the Land Bank at kcmolandbank.org or 816-513-9020.

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Every spring the city’s public fountains come back to life as the Board of Parks and Recreation celebrates Fountain Day. One highlight of this year’s festivities is the presentation of a $9,000 donation to the City of Fountains Foundation, a nonprofit that helps with maintenance and repairs.

The donation comes from sales to the public of a royal blue, limited edition “Home Sweet Home” banner. Designed by the Kansas City Communications Office, these banners are half-size replicas of those that hung from downtown street poles during the World Series championship. Fans purchased them as holiday gifts and souvenirs of the Royals’ winning baseball season. The 6-foot-long full-size banners will be reinstalled this spring as the new season begins.

Fountain Day is celebrated at a different location each year. The 2016 event is at the William Volker Memorial Fountain in Theis Park at the Charles B. Wheeler Amphitheater Tuesday, April 12 at 11 a.m. Officials will welcome back the fountain’s six bronze sculptures of playful children that were removed last fall for cleaning and repair. The figures were designed by Kansas City artist Tom Corbin, who placed them over a giant water basin measuring 60 feet by 100 feet when the fountain was dedicated in 1995.

The City of Fountains Foundation was organized over 40 years ago to build new fountains and establish endowments to make major repairs to the fountains. For more information, see kcfountains.com.

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Smallpox, malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis—Kansas City has seen its share of health problems since the first city physician was appointed 150 years ago. While those diseases are now under control or even eliminated, newer problems like shigellosis, Ebola and the Zika virus have emerged. But the biggest challenges we face in the future are probably not what you think, says Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City Health Department.

“They’re cultural,” he says. “They’re related to violence, poor education and lack of living-wage jobs.”

In this anniversary year for the department, it’s useful to look back at how far we’ve come. According to Archer, “Most health improvements have not happened through treatment but through education, prevention and changes in law—or a combination of these.”

For example, nobody lights up a cigarette inside a bar or restaurant anymore, he notes. It’s not only against the law. It’s also against our culture now that there’s been a shift in how we regard smoking.

The Health Department will continue to provide immunization clinics, HIV prevention, flu shots and such. But Archer says the most important changes will come from programs based on a more expansive view of public health. Some of these include:

Aim4Peace—This Health Department program partners with the school system and faith-based organizations to reduce retaliation after intentional shootings or stabbings. Outreach workers and trained “violence interrupters” counsel victims and their family members in high-crime neighborhoods.

Stopping predatory lending—The department supports an ongoing campaign against payday loan companies, and promotes an alternative short-term loan program run by a nonprofit, Next Step KC, that offers microloans up to $1,000.

Improving education—Children born into low-income families often suffer from a 30 million “word gap” when compared to others. The national Talk, Read, Play program is supported by Mayor Sly James and various City departments as well as over 100 community leaders who recognize that crucial language and pre-reading skills are acquired before age 3. Another program called Success Court focuses on 7th and 8th graders to reduce truancy and drop-out rates, while a third effort, the Trauma Informed Schools Program, trains teachers and staff to identify traumatized students so they can receive extra help.

Environmental health—Preventing lead poisoning, food-borne illness and dangerous noise levels are some of the department’s duties, which also include inspecting restaurants, daycare centers, hotels, and public pools and spas.

Living wage initiatives—The department helped lead a campaign to raise the minimum wage, and last July the City Council approved a series of gradual increases for the minimum pay to reach $13 per hour by 2020. Unfortunately, the state of Missouri has pre-empted our ability to protect the public in this way, Archer says.

Tobacco 21—Last November the City Council passed ordinances to increase the age to buy nicotine and vapor products from 18 to 21. The department successfully partnered on this change with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce because smokers who suffer from lifelong health issues often become addicted before age 21.

These efforts are ongoing, but the progress Kansas City has made is significant. Out of over 3,000 health departments nationwide, KCMO’s department is one of only four to be both nationally accredited and to have led its community to win the coveted “Culture of Health Prize” from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Almost every significant change in public health was at first thought impossible,” Archer says. “What we must do now is decide to take back our culture. The culture can change if we realize that jobs, education and racial integration are much more important than whether we have more doctors or hospitals. We have a collective responsibility to help each other be healthier.”

The department’s anniversary celebration, “Health 150,” kicks off this spring with special school activities and Channel 2 videos. Watch for details at kcmo.gov/health.

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You can get caught up on your Kansas City taxes without paying penalties if you come forward first—that’s the basic offer from the City’s Finance Department, which is in charge of making sure that everyone who owes taxes pays their fair share.

Department officials say they realize that when residents and taxpayers don’t file or pay, it’s not necessarily out of willful non-compliance. Sometimes it’s because they don’t understand their responsibilities.

Most state taxing agencies, including the Department of Revenue in both Missouri and Kansas, have an ongoing program for taxpayers to come forward to resolve their tax obligations without penalties. Termed “voluntary disclosure,” these programs allow qualified taxpayers who are not in compliance to pay prior tax obligations, and in exchange, avoid penalties.

Now KCMO has a similar arrangement. The City’s Revenue Division recently rolled out its own voluntary disclosure program in February. According to Commissioner of Revenue Mari Ruck, “The program offers relief to taxpayers while promoting two of the primary goals of the Revenue Division – compliance and consistent treatment.”

Ruck says Kansas City’s program is modeled after those at the state level and authorized by City ordinances. Here’s how it works: Taxpayers who have failed to file returns and pay City taxes may be eligible if they have had no prior contact with the City’s Revenue Division about filing returns or paying taxes due. A representative (such as a CPA) may contact the division on behalf of a taxpayer so they can remain anonymous until the terms of an agreement are finalized.

Except for property taxes and special assessments, all taxes administered by the division and owed by any type of taxpayer are eligible. However, a taxpayer who files a return but underreports the tax due is not eligible. For more details and information on how to apply, visit kcmo.gov/tax/voluntary-disclosure-program or contact the Revenue Division at 816-513-1279 or voluntarydisclosure@kcmo.org.

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A few months ago Mayor Sly James added a new bowtie to his collection—one that resembles a monarch butterfly. The National Wildlife Federation presented the orange and black tie after James announced a pledge to bring awareness and support for increasing monarch habitat throughout Kansas City by joining a native plant initiative. More than 20 regional organizations have banded together for this initiative which was awarded a $230,000 grant from the federation.

The City is using part of the grant money to install a new bed in front of the Garden Center in Loose Park, says Terry Rynard, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

“This is a big shift from the formal—and mostly annual—plantings that it will replace,” she says, adding that future plans for City parks and boulevards will be reviewed for how they might better attract monarchs and other pollinators. Rynard notes that monarch populations have declined due to the loss of their host plant, milkweed, through development and herbicide-resistant crops. Kansas City hosts four generations of monarch butterflies each year. The last generation, reaching adulthood in September, is the super generation that migrates to Mexico for the winter and then moves back north in the spring, laying eggs for the first generation of the following year.

The Kansas City Parks Department also maintains a pollinator patch in front of the Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park at 4701 E. Gregory Blvd. Plantings of bee balm, catmint, prairie clover, thyme, coreopsis, mallow and aromatic aster attract butterflies as well as bees, wasps and other beneficial bugs.

Some of the groups the City is collaborating with include Burroughs Audubon of Greater Kansas City, Bridging the Gap, Johnson County Parks, Missouri Department of Transportation, Kansas City Power and Light, Grow Native, the Westport Garden Club and Powell Gardens.

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Here’s the scoop on towed cars, missed trash pickups, barking dogs, leaf and brush collection rules, bulky items pickups and 311 mobile van requests.

Q. Where can I go to look up my KCMO Municipal Court ticket/court information?
A. Visit kcmo.gov/court to search for information in several different ways:

  • Name (last, first) and date of birth
  • Ticket number
  • Vehicle license number and state
  • Operator/driver license and state
  • Bond number
  • Name (last, first) and docket date

Q. Where can I find information on a vehicle that was towed by the City?
A. Visit autoreturn.com.

Q. How long should I wait to report that my trash/recycling has not been picked up?
A. If you’re calling on the same day as your trash collection, you may report a missed pickup after 6 p.m. The City contractors have until that time to collect your trash/recycling on your trash day.

To find out more information regarding the City’s trash/recycling services, please visit kcmo.gov/publicworks/trash.

Q. What is the process to report a barking dog problem?
A. First, you must be a neighbor within 100 yards of the barking, and you should be able to report the location of the dog and the timeframe when the barking occurs. A signed complaint must made in person at the Animal Health and Public Safety Division’s administrative offices at 2534 Prospect Ave. between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (according to Ordinance 14-30 Excessive Animal Noise and 14-31(c) Public Nuisance). If you are concerned about reporting your complaint in person, please call 311. Barking dog complaints cannot be anonymous because a court appearance may be necessary.

Here are the steps taken after a signed complaint is received:

  • Animal control officers start their investigation by verifying that your address is within 100 yards of the barking dog address.
  • The City will send a letter to the barking dog owner.
  • If the problem persists more than seven days after the letter goes out, you’re instructed to contact the Animal Health office (816-513-9808 or 816-513-9811), submit any further documentation (if applicable) and initial your previous signed complaint so that it can be filed as a criminal charge. A court date will then be set.
  • When the parties go to court, mediation will be offered.

Q. What are the rules for curbside leaf and brush collection?
A. Here are the rules:

  • Sacks and bundles should be placed at the curb by 7 a.m. on the regularly-scheduled trash day.
  • No more than 20 sacks and bundles per household.
  • Sacks and bundles must not weigh more than 40 pounds each.
  • Use only paper lawn debris sacks. No plastic bags.
  • If you seal the sacks, use masking tape only; do not use plastic or duct tape.
  • No grass clippings. No trash.
  • All branches must be bundled. Branches must not be more than 3 inches in diameter.
  • Bundles of branches must not be more than 2 feet in diameter and not more than 4 feet long.
  • Use twine or jute rope to tie bundles. Do not use wire or plastic tape.
  • If wet weather is forecast, cover sacks and bundles with clear plastic.

If sacks and bundles are not collected on the scheduled trash day, residents must contact the 311 Call Center within 24 hours. Call 311 or 816-513-1313.

Leaf and brush collection schedules are posted at kcwaterservices.org/programs/leaf-brush or see the back cover of this magazine.

Q. How do I request a 311 representative to come to my neighborhood community event?
A. You may request the 311 mobile van to come to your community event by calling 311 or by submitting a request form online at kcmo.gov/311/mobile-van-request.

Please note: The 311 van is intended to be a City services informational “booth” at community events and not for neighborhood meetings.

Q. When should I set out my bulky items for pickup?
A. Only put out bulky items after you have made an appointment and received a confirmation number and date. For information on how to set up an appointment and/or to read the guidelines, please visit kcmo.gov/publicworks/bulkyitem.

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Call 311 or 816-513-1313 or email 311.call.center@kcmo.org or visit kcmo.gov/311 for general questions and service requests.

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Call 311 or 816-513-9821.

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See kcmo.gov/channel2 for live coverage of City Council, weekly city news and special events.

Municipal Court tickets
See information at kcmo.gov/court or call 816-513-2700.

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Search for a towed vehicle at autoreturn.com or call 816-513-0670.

Trash Service
Call 311 or see kcmo.gov/trash.

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Call 311 or 816-513-0567 or email water.customerservice@kcmo.org.

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