The 2016 State of the City Address for Kansas City was presented by Mayor Sly James on March 29, 2016 at the Uptown Theater.
Mayor James discussed several key topics that are currently affecting Kansas City during the State of the City Address. Kansas City’s tech boom, the KC Earnings tax, city growth and development, education, the city budget, and crime reduction and prevention were all major themes in the speech. Highlights included organizers and programs in the city that are working to create jobs, reach out to the youth, and doing their part to make positive impacts in their communities. Attendees of the State of the City Address were also treated to a special mini concert at the end of the speech.
Calvin Arsenia set the tone of showing recognition to a new generation of creatives in Kansas City with a moving performance. His whimsically soulful artistic style features the folk harp, guitar, and piano as his main instruments. Arsenia says his musical influences range from Lauryn Hill to Andrea Bocelli.
- In 2011, Google Fiber chose both Kansas Cities as the first cities for its new gigabit Fiber.
- KC Streetcar construction began in 2013 and, along with it, replacement of 2.2 miles of antiquated water and sewer lines.
- A new infrastructure called Smart + Connected City will start with the grand opening of the Streetcar operations on May 6, 2016. This partnership between Cisco, Sprint, and others has qualified Kansas City for a $50 million Department of Transportation Smart City grant.
- In 2015, LaunchKC granted half a million dollars to 10 applicants in a business competition. During Techweek, in September, 10 more grants will be awarded.
- HUD initiatives like ConnectHome and ConnectEd are bringing high-speed broadband to families in public housing.
KC Earnings Tax
- Since 1963, the tax has generated revenue which the city primarily uses for public safety – police, fire, and ambulance services.
- City residents and people who work in the city contribute $230 million in taxes to the general fund.
- Without funds from the KC Earnings Tax, Mayor James estimates a doubling of sales taxes or tripling of property taxes would be required to compensate for the loss of $230 million. Another speculated possibility would be to lay off more than 200 employees each year for the next 10 years.
- $1.53 billion approved for 2016-2017 budget.
- The budget will support neighborhoods, demolition of dangerous buildings, and investment in summer youth employment.
- Public safety departments make up 75% of the $543 million general fund. 40% of which comes from the KC Earnings Tax.
- The remaining 25% covers roads, snow removal, trash pickup, codes enforcement, and municipal court.
Employment and Redevelopment Projects
- The city will receive recommendations for the modernization of Kansas City International Airport in the next few weeks. Modernization includes ending long restroom lines inside security, improving baggage handling, de-icing equipment, and fixing the crumbling infrastructure underneath.
- The 800 room downtown convention center will bring hundreds of new jobs and increased revenue from visitors.
- VisitKC estimates the passing of SJR 39 will put Kansas City at risk of losing billions of dollars in tourism, conventions, and sporting events.
- Over $2 billion has been invested in housing, infrastructure, and capital improvements for the east of Troost, south of the river, and north of 63rd Street areas since 2011.
- The Paseo Gateway northeast neighborhood received the $30 million Choice Neighborhood Grant.
- The Twin Creeks sewer expansion opened up 13,000 acres of land for future development in Kansas City’s Northland.
- The $14 million Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy will help thousands of kids develop character and skills in leadership and athletics.
- The city is also making a direct, million dollar plus investment in the Linwood Shopping Center.
- Through Women’s Empowerment, City employees will be eligible for paid parental leave. The program will join with the Women’s Foundation and the Society of Human Resource Management to conduct When Work Works, aimed at improving work life balance throughout the city.
- Through City Year, Americorps works closely with students in Central Middle School and Kauffman School, keeping them on track to graduate.
- Literacy Lab has trained literacy tutors in elementary schools and Head Start centers focused solely on growing children’s literacy, confidence, and ability.
- Turn the Page KC was recognized by the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading as a Pacesetter program.
- The city is also in support of making sure every child in Kansas City lives near a quality schools. (Show Me KC Schools recently hosted an elementary school fair featuring representatives from more than 20 elementary schools in Kansas City.)
- Kansas City Teacher Residency trains teachers much like doctors are trained – through a residency model. Residency graduates outperform their peers in student achievement and overall teacher performance.
- Kansas City is a new pilot community for LRNG, which connects youth to in school, out of school, employer based, and online learning experiences that align with their interests.
- Domestic violence and child abuse were at the root of the increase of homicides in 2015.
- KC NoVA, the KCPD, and the city’s prosecution office are working together to support better and more coordinated intelligence to focus on those who cause the majority of violent crimes in Kansas City.
- Teens in Transition is a 10 seek summer program at ArtsTech, where at risk youth are given opportunities to work on community art projects. As a result, teens are ready for high school graduation and college.
- A push for State level legislation that can coexist with the Second Amendment will continue, starting with an armed offender docket pilot program in the courts.
Mayor James concluded the 2016 State of the City Address by stating the framework of efficiency, employment, education, and enforcement is the platform the city uses to bring people together and sustain the momentum of growth we see today.