by: Kera Mashek
Posted: / Updated:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With single digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills expected in the next few days, Kansas City’s new homeless warming shelter is preparing for a busy weekend.
The center, established last week, is named in honor of Scott Eicke, a Kansas City homeless man who recently froze to death New Year’s Day.
Those organizing this effort to help the homeless know there have been some bumps in the road, but remain committed to doing all they can to make sure no one else dies in the frigid cold coming our way.
Open less than a week, the new Kansas City warming center in Bartle Hall is welcoming 100 houseless guests a night.
“It has been one of the most heartwarming experiences and emotionally touching and moving. It’s also been a huge learning curve,” said Nellie McCool, volunteer and community activist.
Several community advocates banded together with the city to make this happen. Even though ReStart, a local homeless advocacy non-profit is no longer a partner in the project, organizers say what’s happening here to serve those in need is working well.
“The fact we’re even offering a roof over their head temporarily and a meal is a huge accomplishment, but it doesn’t end there. We need to be able to support them emotionally and just bet there,” McCool said.
To keep the shelter running, more volunteers are needed.
“All you have to do is step up,” said volunteer Brian Smith.
Smith is doing what he can to help by taking car loads of donations and supplies to Bartle Hall and says anyone can find ways to get involved and make a difference.
“These people are people. It’s not just about feeding them. It’s not just about helping them, just treating them like human beings,” Smith said.
As the shelter prepares for potentially its biggest crowds yet with subzero temps expected, it’s hoping the work here will serve as a launching pad for finding new ways to serve Kansas City’s homeless.
“I think the best outcome is city learns from that and that we go into next winter with a plan in place already. We don’t have to wait for someone to die then pick up the pieces,” McCool said.
The city is expected to talk about creating a formal agreement with the volunteer groups here to cover the shelter’s operation during a city council business session Thursday.
If you’d like to get plugged in, here are a few ways to help:
January 13, 2021
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas—in consultation with Kansas City Health Department Director Rex Archer, M.D. and Emergency Medical Services Medical Director Erica Carney, M.D.—today extended Kansas City’s State of Emergency and announced updated COVID-19 safety guidelines as our community continues its work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, provided details on Kansas City’s work to vaccinate our community, announced additional small business assistance by extending deadlines for certain business fees, and announced housing assistance for those experiencing homelessness.
Mayor Lucas has extended Kansas City’s State of Emergency to May 1, 2021. Mayor Lucas’s Twelfth Amended Order takes effect at 10 p.m. today and expires contemporaneously with expiration of the State of Emergency, unless extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in a subsequent order in the interest of public health.
“In early November, COVID-19 cases were rising at a concerning rate, our hospitals were at capacity, and our community was trending in a concerning direction—but, together, we stabilized,” said Mayor Lucas. “Thanks to thousands of Kansas City families reimagining this holiday season; changing beloved traditions; and sacrificing travel and time with far-away loved ones to help us get through this difficult moment, we lowered COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths. But our work is not done and today we are again presented with tough decisions as we work to keep our community safe and our economy open. I know our COVID-19 guidelines have saved lives. I also understand regional alignment—creating consistent and concise guidelines so businesses throughout our metro can operate on an equal playing field—is important for continued community compliance. While restaurant, tavern, and bar closing hours will push to midnight, Kansas City government will continue to direct all establishments to strictly adhere to masking, social distancing, and capacity requirements, and will continue to strongly enforce our rules. Tomorrow, I will also be introducing a measure that would provide several opportunities for deferred business tax payments and fee waivers.”
“I am pleased that many frontline workers have been inoculated,” continued Mayor Lucas. “We will continue working to ensure our vaccination process is efficient and equitable, with availability to all, including our underrepresented Black and brown communities. Thank you to all who have sacrificed so much over the past 10 months, particularly those over age 65 and in at-risk groups. We must remain diligent about wearing our masks, avoiding large crowds, and washing our hands. Brighter days are on the horizon.”
“January is on track to be one of our busier months regarding COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Carney. “Although vaccination distribution is underway, our local healthcare workers continue to focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19. We need your continued help in protecting our busy hospitals by decreasing your risk of infection. It remains as important as ever to wear masks, socially distance, and wash your hands frequently.”
Twelfth Amended COVID-19 Order
Restaurants, taverns, and all other venues, including wedding and other event spaces, may extend their closing hour from 10 p.m. to midnight to create better regional alignment, while continuing strict capacity and social distancing requirements—coupled with Kansas City government utilizing its robust enforcement apparatus—to keep patrons safe.
Additional guidelines are as follows:
Vaccination Efforts Underway
Mayor Lucas and Dr. Archer today announced that the Kansas City Health Department this week will receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. These 975 initial doses will be used primarily to inoculate all healthcare providers who will be responsible for administering the COVID-19 vaccination to the public on behalf of the Kansas City Health Department, and home-health caretakers and other healthcare workers not affiliated with a hospital or medical group.
Kansas Citians interested in signing up to receive more information about COVID-19 vaccination opportunities should complete an online survey found at kcmo.gov/coronavirus.
Small Business Assistance
Mayor Lucas introduced a proposal in November directing City administrators to review all annual licensing fees for the Kansas City service industry and small, locally-owned businesses, and to identify fees eligible for deferral, reduction, or waiver for establishments that remain in full compliance with Kansas City’s Emergency COVID-19 Order, as enforced by Kansas City government.
Following review, Mayor Lucas will introduce an ordinance during tomorrow’s City Council meeting that would provide any Kansas City business with annual revenue less than $2 million the flexibility to defer license tax deadlines until April 30, or 60 days after Kansas City’s State of Emergency is rescinded, whichever is later.
Kansas Citians interested in signing up for text updates from the City of Kansas City regarding COVID-19 should text COVIDKC to 888-777. For more information, visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov/coronavirus or kcmo.gov/coronavirus. You may also call the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services hotline at 877-435-8411 for questions regarding COVID-19 in Missouri.
This press release was produced by the City of Kansas City. The views expressed here are the author’s own.
KANSAS CITY METRO — As pharmaceutical companies race to pump out COVID-19 vaccinations, municipalities across the metro are trying to figure out how to distribute their limited supplies of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.
Some have created surveys to help the rollout process, while others must decide internally how to distribute inoculations.
Here’s what Kansas City metro residents need to know about how to get a vaccine in their area. Local governments are sorted by state in alphabetical order. (Click here to scroll to Kansas)
The state of Missouri has released a COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan consisting of three primary phases, with Phase 1 having sub-phases A and B. Phase 1B also includes three tiers.
Gov. Mike Parson has said the state may be finished with 1A, which consists of healthcare workers and those who live and work in long-term care facilities, by the end of January.
On Jan. 15, the state began Phase 1B-Tier 1, which includes public health staff, law enforcement, fire crews and other emergency services employees. The state will also activate Phase 1B-Tier 2 on Jan. 18, which includes those 65 and over and high-risk individuals with cancer, heart conditions, severe obesity and more.
On Jan. 20, Gov. Mike Parson announced that the National Guard will be deployed to help with vaccine distribution.
On Feb. 8, Gov. Parson announced a new online vaccine registry. It takes a user through the registration process to get a vaccine. At the end each person who registers will be told under which Missouri phase and tier they will qualify for a vaccine. Parson says each person who registers will be notified when the state begins vaccinating for their particular group. Follow this link to register on the state’s new vaccination site.
Bates County does not have a signup for the vaccine as of Jan. 12. Officials with the county told FOX4 that the health department is still waiting for vaccine approval.
Both Bates County Health Center & Bates County Memorial Hospital have signed up to be a vaccine locations and have ordered vaccine, but we do not know when it will arrive. Neither facility have the appropriate, ultra-cold storage for the Pfizer vaccine, and are waiting for our orders of the Moderna vaccine – like most rural areas – that only require refrigeration.
They will make an announcement when they are able to start inoculations. Until that time the heath department does not have a waiting list.
Caldwell County is working to vaccinate people who qualify for tier 1A. It also launched this survey site to collect information from people who are interested in a vaccine. It’s asking people to sign up through the survey instead of calling the county health department.
The county’s health department says when it is ready to move to the next group of people, it will publish dates and times for vaccination clinics in the newspaper, on Facebook and put fliers in grocery stores and post offices.
The Cass County Health Department created a survey for those who want to get the COVID-19 vaccination. The survey asks for name, age, location, demographic, medical information and more. The county will use the provided information to contact residents when it is their turn. Right now it does not have vaccine available. The county says it will begin contacting people who’ve filled out the survey directly with information about where and when to get an appointment.
Clay County Public Health has started vaccinations against COVID-19, and is now collecting information from people who are interested in getting vaccinated. The information provided through this form with allow the county to contact you to let you know when you are eligible to be vaccinated.
Filling out the form does not guarantee you will receive a COVID-19 vaccination from the Clay County Health Department. The health department says to continue to be on the try to get vaccinated through your doctor, another health care provider, a mass vaccination clinic, a retail pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens or through your employer.
Liberty Hospital also says it is working on setting up a mass vaccination site in the coming weeks.
More information can be found on the county’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage.
The Clinton County Health Department says it is contacting employers directly as they vaccinate people in tier 1A. There is a questionnaire on the department’s website for anyone who is interested in getting a vaccine.
It’s expected that there will be multiple places to get a vaccine when the county moves to tier 1B. It says to stay connected to social media and TV to learn when Clinton County moves to the next phase of vaccinating people. At this point the health department says it does not have vaccine and doesn’t know when it will be available for the public.
The Henry County Health Center has not received COVID-19 Vaccine at this time. It is encouraging people to get a vaccine through a health care provider or pharmacy that has the vaccine in stock.
If you meet Phase 1B — Tier 2 criteria, the health department set up a hotline to take your information when vaccine is available. Call or text 660-492-6605 and leave a message. Make sure the message includes your name, phone number and what Tier you qualify to get a vaccine.
They expect to receive vaccine in the first part of February.
The City of Independence released this statement to FOX4: “The City of Independence Health Department will provide sign-up opportunities when vaccines are available. Individuals will be asked to provide basic information, much like those asked by the County, and verify they are in the appropriate phase of distribution. We do not plan a survey at this time.”
Jackson County officials have asked all residents to fill out a COVID-19 vaccine survey, provided by the health department. The survey asks for contact information, occupation, and pre-existing medical conditions. Officials will contact those who participate when it is their time to get inoculated.
Johnson County has created a public survey for those interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or for those who just want updates about availability. It’s available on the county’s health department website.
The county is finalizing plans for the first round of large vaccination clinics for people who qualify for Phase 1B — Tiers 1 and 2. To see when registration for an upcoming clinic is open and to sign up for updates visit the county’s health department.
Kansas City, Missouri, officials have created an online survey for patient-facing healthcare professionals who have not yet received the vaccine. Officials told FOX4 that vaccine supply is still very limited.
The survey will ask which organization you work for, your type of practice and more.
The city has also created an online survey for KC residents interested in getting a COVID vaccine.
As the vaccine becomes more available to the public, the KC Health Department or another provider will use the information provided to contact you with more instructions on how to schedule a vaccine appointment.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said this survey does not guarantee you a vaccine or a spot in line, but based on availability and distribution priorities, it will help the city identify residents at risk.
If you don’t have access to the internet, call 311 or 816-513-1313. When prompted press 3 and then 1.
If you can complete the form online, please do so. It is available in English and Spanish.
Lafayette County is now accepting sign-up for the COVID-19 vaccine. The online form asks for contact information, name, birthday and other personal information. Filling out the form does not guarantee an appointment or confirm your request for a vaccine.
Vaccine supply remains extremely limited in Lafayette County as of Jan. 21. The health department suggests trying to get a vaccine through your doctor or pharmacy if it is available.
The Platte County Health Department does not have vaccine as of Jan. 21, but says that can change with little advance notice. People living in Platte Co., outside of Kansas City, are asked to complete a brief survey. The Platte County Health Department will use information from the survey to contact you with instructions about how to schedule an appoint ment.
The Ray County Health Department says it’s been approved as a vaccinator, but has not received any COVID-10 vaccine. Anyone who is interested in being vaccinated and meet criteria for Missouri’s Phase 1A, Phase 1B-Tier 1, or Phase 1B-Tier 2 call 816-776-5413 to be placed on a waiting list.
Kansas has released a vaccine rollout plan that details five primary phases, starting with healthcare workers and those living and working in long-term care facilities. Kansas entered Phase 2 on Thursday, Jan. 21, making approximately 1 million Kansans eligible to get the vaccine.
However, with limited supply from the federal government, she’s asking residents to be patient and contact their local health department if they are included in Phase 1 or 2 of the state’s plan and want to receive a vaccine.
The state has now produced a ‘Find My Vaccine’ tool, which shows Kansans where to get COVID-19 shots.
Find more information about the state’s plan on the Kansas vaccine website.
Douglas County is asking residents who are interested getting the vaccine to fill out this survey.
Any residents who need assistance filling out the form can call the Senior Resource Center for
Douglas County at 785-842-0543 and leave a message. Staff will return calls during business
hours as quickly as they can in the order calls are received.
County leaders have already released plans to start vaccinating hundreds of residents now that Kansas is entering Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccine plan.
The county will hold its first public vaccine clinic on Jan. 29 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. It is limited to those 65 and older. All 900+ appointments have already been filled.
For those who weren’t able to schedule an appointment to this first clinic on Jan. 29, you can also register for alerts at dgcoks.org/emalerts to be notified of enrollment for future ones.
Franklin County is asking anyone living there who would like to be added to the COVID-19 vaccination list to call (785) 229-3531.
Officials with Jefferson County are encouraging residents to call the health department at 785-403-0025. They will be added to a waitlist based on rollout priority determined by state and federal officials.
Johnson County will enter Phase 2 January 25. The county is asking anyone who wants a vaccine in Phase 2 of Kansas’ rollout plan to take a survey. The survey will allow officials to contact residents when vaccination appointments are available. You can also call 913-715-2819 for help if you meet criteria for Phase 2 Tier 1.
More than 150,000 people living in Johnson County qualify for a vaccine under Phase 2. Right now there is not enough vaccine for everyone. The county health department is working with hospitals to set up vaccination sites across the county.
Vaccines will be given Tuesday-Friday, but appointments will be needed.
Hospitals have started notifying people who qualify for a vaccine under the plan. People will continue to be notified as vaccine becomes available. Health leaders warn it is going to take weeks, possibly months, to vaccinate everyone.
Other announcements will be made on the county’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage. Residents can sign up for the county’s newsletter there.
The Leavenworth County Health Department has released information about how it plans to vaccinate thousands of people.
Leavenworth County hasn’t received doses for public vaccinations. When it does, it will use information collected through the survey to contact people. At that time the health department will give further instructions on how to schedule and appointment for a vaccination.
The health department asked for the public to refrain from calling to ask about vaccine availability. There are not enough employees to return calls regarding the status of the survey.
Linn County is collecting information from people 65 and older who are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. You will find an interest form to fill out online. By completing the form, you indicate that you would like to be contacted by the health department if a vaccine becomes available for you. It does not guarantee you will receive the vaccine from the Linn County Health Department.
If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The health department can be reached by phone at 913-352-6640 if you know someone who does not have internet access.
Miami County will begin scheduling appointments for people who qualify for vaccinations under phase 2 on Jan. 25.
Due to the shear volume of calls received to schedule COVID-19 vaccine, the scheduling line is temporarily down. To make an appointment, please call our main line at913-294-2431. Once all appointment slots are filled for the upcoming clinics, scheduling will be closed until additional time slots are made available with additional receipt of vaccine.
Each person must have an appointment to receive a vaccination. The county health department has a vaccination scheduling line and will start taking appointments at 8: 00 a.m. on Jan. 25. To make an appointment, call 913-755-5185.If there are no appointments available, the phone will be turned off temporarily and resumed when additional appointments become available.
Appointments are on a first-come-first-serve basis and there is not a “wait list” at this time.
The county has about 400 vaccine doses available. If it receives more vaccine before the clinic dates, additional appointment times will be added.
The Health Department of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas has provided a survey for anyone interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Answers will help officials determine how many residents are in population groups defined by the vaccine rollout plan. The survey requires your name, location, personal health and living information and more.
If you do not have internet access, the Health Department says you can call 311. An operator will put your information into the survey for you. Operators are also bilingual.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect business owners, forcing five local restaurants to announce closures in the past two weeks alone.
Bluestem in Westport announced Tuesday that after 17 years, they will be serving guests for the last time on Saturday, Dec. 19.
“We have put much thought and care into our decision to part ways with our beloved restaurant on the corner of Westport Road,” it said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
The company went on to say that it’s most cherished memories will forever be the relationships it has made through Bluestem with staff, guests and the local community.
Gojo Japanese Steakhouse made the announcement late Thursday morning, Nov. 19, saying that after significant stress from the pandemic, the store must permanently close.
However, the restaurant that has been in Westport for over 40 years announced their sauce recipes will soon be available to local Kansas City grocery stores and online for nationwide shipping.
“Our 40-year legacy starts and ends with our customers. We are so grateful for your continued support and loyalty for the last four decades and hopefully for several more to come,” the company stated.
Howard’s, an organic restaurant, grocery story and catering company that opened five years ago at 1708 Oak St., plans to close at the end of December, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.
“Not sure what the next phases will be next year but we will definitely keep building our farm and growing a lot of good veggies with a commitment to finding our way in the new food culture we’re living in,” the businessposted on FacebookWednesday, Nov. 18.
According toThe Kansas City Star, The Mixx closed its downtown location when its lease came up for renewal in late October. The fast-casual eatery, whichopened its location at 1347 Main St. in the Kansas City Power & Light District in 2009, plans to turn its attention and efforts to its two other locations.
“We look forward toreturning Downtown in the future, andyou will be the first to know,” aNov. 11 Facebook post from the company reads.
According to theStar, Poi-o in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood and Howard’s Grocery, Cafe & Catering in the East Crossroads also recently closed.
Poi-ō, 1000 W. 25th St.,took to Facebook Friday to announce their closing. The wood-fired chicken restaurant’s last day will be Saturday, Nov. 28.
“Thank you Kansas City for the continual love and support. All of us at Poi-ō love you back!”
A tough year. That’s what everyone participating in the Kansas City Commercial Real Estate Summit agreed 2020 has been. But that’s not to say that the mood during the virtual event held Oct. 20 by REjournals.com and Midwest Real Estate News was a gloomy one. Instead, the biggest names in Kansas City’s real estate community agreed that the future still looks bright for this Missouri city’s CRE market.
The tone of the meeting was set early by keynote speaker Jill McCarthy, senior executive with the Kansas City Area Development Council. McCarthy agreed that 2020 has been a year of challenges what with the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing focus on racial injustice and a particularly negative presidential election campaign.
And, yes, Kansas City hasn’t been immune to the economic struggles brought about by the pandemic and the business shutdowns associated with it. Kansas City business owners are struggling. Restaurants are fighting to keep their doors open. And real estate deals are taking longer to complete.
Still, McCarthy found room for hope: The Kansas City economy was strong before COVID-19 hit. Because of this, McCarthy says, she expects the economy and commercial real estate market here to return to pre-COVID-19 levels once again, even if that might require the historically quick development of a vaccine.
“I have tremendous optimism,” McCarthy said. “When you look at Kansas City and the regional economy, there are reasons for hope. If you had a pie chart showing what the industries are in the United States and you then looked at the major industries in Kansas City, you’d see that we are nearly a mirror image. It’s been that way for many years. The diversity of industry in the Kansas City region is an incredible strength.”
Kansas City also benefits from a talented labor pool and a business-friendly government, McCarthy said. And the people who live here? Many of them harbor entrepreneurial dreams, she said.
“Kansas City has an entrepreneurial spirit,” McCarthy said. “We are explorers, dreamers and, most of all, we are doers.”
McCarthy pointed to the summer announcement from Dot’s Pretzels that it plans to build a $15 million manufacturing facility at Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton, Kansas, as evidence that the Kansas City region remains attractive to companies across the United States.
Another bright spot in Kansas City? The multifamily market, which was the subject of the event’s first group panel.
Logan Freeman, commercial and investment sales with Clemons Real Estate in Kansas City and the moderator of the panel, said that of all the commercial asset types, multifamily remains one of the strongest.
“At the beginning of March, we wanted to buy retail shopping centers that were ecommerce-resistant. Then the pandemic happened,” Freeman said. “We backed out of close to $20 million worth of transactions. One thing we didn’t back out of, though, was multifamily.”
Jeff Stingley, executive vice president with the Kansas City office of CBRE, said that 2020 started off strong for the Kansas City-area multifamily market. Then COVID-19 hit. To no one’s surprise, the market has slowed as the year has progressed. But Stingley said the multifamily market is still on pace for a solid year of investment activity, sales and leases. Private capital is still available for multifamily, Stingley said.
“The appetite for multifamily remains extremely high,” Stingley said. “Once the fundamentals stabilize, and if we remain in a low-interest-rate environment, we think 2021 will be a good year for sales.”
The rest of 2020, though, will bring challenges for commercial brokers. As Stingley said, many owners who were considering selling their multifamily assets are putting those moves on hold.
Many owners are also looking to refinance their properties. This means that brokers aren’t just competing for business today from other brokers, but also with owners looking to refinance their apartment buildings because of the lower interest rates of today. These owners, in a different environment, might have been sellers.
E.F. Chip Walsh, founder and principal of CRE development consulting firm Mercier Street LLC, said that 2021 might present its own challenges. Why? He points to the government stimulus package, and the enhanced unemployment benefits that came with it. That helped slow some of the economic fallout from government shutdown and stay-at-home orders.
But those stimulus dollars are gone now, and Congress hasn’t been able to reach a deal on a new financial relief package.
“What happens if the stimulus isn’t renewed? Are we just masking bigger financial problems?” Walsh asked. “Are we just delaying the inevitable financial pain? Because of this, I am a little cautious about 2021. In the early days of the pandemic, it was thought that we’d shut businesses down but then we’d turn the switch back on. People are now realizing that this is a longer-term process. How do people get through 2021? How do you learn to live with this pandemic?”
Craig Scranton, principal with the Kansas City office of BNIM, said that the Kansas City apartment market did see a slowdown after the first quarter of this year. Today, though, the market has again picked up velocity, he said.
“People are trying to make their deals work,” Scranton said. “They are still trying to get there. Deals aren’t getting done as quickly as they once did. But people are still trying to get deals done today. They are trying to get them to work.”
Frank Sciara, vice president in the Kansas City metro office of Grandbridge Real Estate Capital, echoed Scranton’s comments, saying that investment activity was especially strong for the Kansas City multifamily market in the first quarter of the year.
Even during the pandemic, investment in multifamily properties has remained solid, Sciara said. Fannie Mae, Freddie MAC and HUD have all continued to lend during the pandemic, he said, something that played a major role in keeping the apartment market here steady.
There are challenges, though, Sciara said. Fannie, Freddie and HUD have all instituted COVID-19 reserve policies. This means that six to 18 months of debt service reserve is collected at closings.
“That’s easier to handle if you are working with a refinance,” Sciara said. “But on an acquisition, it is not always easy for people to raise that additional capital. That has created a bit of a disconnect between buyers and sellers. That has held back the acquisition activity a bit this year.”
Panelists agreed that Kansas City has held its own, even during the worst days of the pandemic.
“Like other Midwest markets, Kansas City is able to weather economic downturns,” Stingley said. “Kansas City has a diverse economic base. It’s not just one industry that makes up most of our GDP. Healthcare is our top industry, and that is mostly recession-proof. That diverse economic base and our durable industries have helped our market hold up. I’d say that Kansas City is as ‘business-as-usual’ as you’ll find in the country right now.”
Sciara said that apartment owners had plenty of concerns about delinquencies when the pandemic started.
“People wondered what would happen if 25 percent to 50 percent of their tenants weren’t paying their rents,” Sciara said.
Fortunately, most apartment tenants are continuing to pay their monthly rent, Sciara said, with delinquencies extremely low. Yes, some landlords have had to create payment plans for some tenants. But overall, the combination of enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus funds were enough to keep monthly rent collections strong, Sciara said.
Scranton said that development has not shut down in the Kansas City apartment market, either. And it’s not just high-end, top-of-the-market multifamily product that is coming online, Scranton said. Apartment projects targeted to lower-income renters are opening in the Kansas City area, too, he said. The market for new products targeting renters who are 55 and older is strong, too, Scranton said.
“There is still development activity in this market,” Scranton said.
Walsh said that renters by choice are helping to drive the Kansas City apartment market. These are often young professionals who could qualify for a mortgage but who instead choose to rent an apartment.
Many of these renters by choice want to live in areas such as the Crossroads neighborhood, communities filled with restaurants, retailers, night life and entertainment. They also want to live near public transportation so that they can get around the city without having to rely on a car.
“This has changed the dynamic of location, location, location,” Walsh said. “You don’t have to be in the closest proximity to where you work if you can get there conveniently by public transportation. Or you can take a Lyft or Uber today. Walkability matters. People want vibrant neighborhoods. The concept of live/work/play is appealing to renters.”
There is a popular storyline that has risen out of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, that a growing number of people are fleeing urban centers and seeking the wider-open spaces of the suburbs. After all, living in the heart of a big city isn’t as enjoyable if restaurants, bars and theaters aren’t open.
Are commercial real estate professionals seeing this trend in Kansas City?
Not really, according to the panelists.
“I don’t think that flight to the suburbs is impacting Kansas City as much as it is other big cities,” Walsh said. “The headlines surrounding that tend to be focused on national, big urban centers like New York City and San Francisco.”
Walsh said that during the last decade or more, people have been moving to the central core of Kansas City. That, he said, isn’t a trend that will be reversed by a one-time pandemic.
Scranton called the media’s focus on the suburbs the “flavor of the month.” He said that downtown Kansas City still boasts great potential and is still a favored destination for renters. He said that he expects the Crossroads area to continue to grow.
Stingley agreed that the loss of population is being felt more in the downtowns of bigger cities.
“I talk to our Chicago guy and he says it’s been a mass exodus out of downtown Chicago,” Stingley said. “But I think any move to the suburbs will be short-term. Kansas City is less affected by this.”
Another reason for the steady performance of Kansas City’s real estate market? Sciara pointed to lenders. He said that the lending community had been self-regulating itself even before COVID-19 hit. Lenders had dialed back on leverage, he said, which has been a blessing now that the pandemic has resulted in so many economic challenges.
Most banks today prefer a leverage level of 70 percent to 75 percent when approving financing requests, Sciara said. That results in less risky loans. But it might also slow down new projects.
“Borrowers will need more equity in their projects,” Sciara said.
School districts are swamped with enrollment right now. COVID-19 has caused additional challenges in getting students to sign up for classes.
In-person or online, no matter the format, just enrolling students for school is challenging because of the pandemic.
“Many may not be thinking about school right now. They may be thinking about, ‘How do I get my next meal? How do I find some shelter going forward?'” said Yaw Obeng, Hickman Mills’ superintendent.
At Hickman Mills, of the expected 5,600 students, so far only 69% have registered. Classes begin online Aug. 24.
“They are not registered in schools, so we don’t have any access to communicate with them and support them through this, as well,” Obeng said.
“Schools really rely on student enrollment for their funding,” said Tricia Johnson, of the United Way of Greater Kansas City.
Financial stress, housing, transient families and social distancing from COVID-19 drive the low numbers. Others families could be weighing their options or have switched to home schooling.
“A lot of our students will already be behind and, if they don’t enroll, this is just going to exacerbate the academic disparities,” Johnson said.
In addition to the normal “summer slide” of forgetting past lessons, the United Way said this year there’s COVID slide. Many students missed 30% of school last year.
“Even if it takes us until September, October, we’ll make an effort to connect with all the students that we’re aware of and try to get them to school,” Obeng said.
Students can register online or in person. Every student at Hickman Mills will get a device for online learning. The school district provides free meals. Students who need Internet hot spots can get those from the district as well.
More than two months after Kansas City’s mayor requested the city’s portion of federal funding for Coronavirus relief in Jackson County, the money is making its way to city hall. Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted his frustration Sunday, “In Missouri it appears that even when we have billions to spend on public health, we can’t get around to it. I hope all our counties see the light before we waste another three months when we should be fighting the spread and impact of COVID-19.” In May, the city requested $54.5 million of the nearly $123 million Jackson County received from the federal government as part of the coronavirus relief bill to fight the virus. That request included $11.7 million in funding for contact testing and tracing for the Kansas City Health Department but it was not approved. In June, Jackson County Executive Frank White proposed distributing half of the federal funds to communities by population based on the most recent U.S. Census data. That plan would have allocated $27 million to Kansas City. By the end of June the Jackson County Legislature approved a total of $18.8 million for Kansas City to meet unanticipated costs necessary in connection with the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, Mayor Lucas wrote, “Kansas City’s ability to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, keep our economy moving and reopen our schools will be largely supplemented by the CARES Act funding we receive from each of our counties—particularly from Jackson. This funding will be used to pay for vital PPE, testing and contract tracers for our Health Department.”“We’ll continue working with each of our counties to ensure Kansas City receives its portion of CARES Act funding, and with our Congressional delegation to ensure any future stimulus package includes direct aid to cities,” he added.An ordinance allocating the Jackson County funds will be heard in Kansas City’s Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. If passed, it will be heard by the full city council as soon as Thursday.County Administrator Troy Schulte said Kansas City only submitted a CARES Act budget for review last week which is a requirement before the funds can be released. As that review is completed, the funds will be wired to the city. He expects the wire to occur later this week.In March, four community organizations established its own Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Together, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, United Way of Greater Kansas City, LISC Greater Kansas City (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), and the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) raised $18 million. Nearly $11 million have gone to over 260 non-profit organizations supporting impacted communities – particularly those that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. LISC Greater Kansas City Executive Director Geoff Jolley says their initial rounds of funding were primarily focused on community-based health organizations and those addressing food insecurity. As federal funding comes in, they are meeting with stakeholders around the metropolitan area to identify the best use of the remaining philanthropic funds. “Our hope is that our elected officials will invest those CARES Act funding really, in a continued health focus, to support our schools, address some of the issues, like digital inequities, and ultimately then to address the pending eviction problem and housing issues that we know are forthcoming.”
More than two months after Kansas City’s mayor requested the city’s portion of federal funding for Coronavirus relief in Jackson County, the money is making its way to city hall.
Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted his frustration Sunday, “In Missouri it appears that even when we have billions to spend on public health, we can’t get around to it. I hope all our counties see the light before we waste another three months when we should be fighting the spread and impact of COVID-19.”
This content is imported from Twitter.You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
Although we started asking in late April, Kansas City has still not received any funds to help 380,000 of its citizens in Jackson and Platte Counties through health funding for better contact tracing, faster testing, and efforts to support schools dealing with the pandemic. https://t.co/8rkRGovGWE
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) August 2, 2020
In May, the city requested $54.5 million of the nearly $123 million Jackson County received from the federal government as part of the coronavirus relief bill to fight the virus. That request included $11.7 million in funding for contact testing and tracing for the Kansas City Health Department but it was not approved. In June, Jackson County Executive Frank White proposed distributing half of the federal funds to communities by population based on the most recent U.S. Census data. That plan would have allocated $27 million to Kansas City. By the end of June the Jackson County Legislature approved a total of $18.8 million for Kansas City to meet unanticipated costs necessary in connection with the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Mayor Lucas wrote, “Kansas City’s ability to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, keep our economy moving and reopen our schools will be largely supplemented by the CARES Act funding we receive from each of our counties—particularly from Jackson. This funding will be used to pay for vital PPE, testing and contract tracers for our Health Department.”
“We’ll continue working with each of our counties to ensure Kansas City receives its portion of CARES Act funding, and with our Congressional delegation to ensure any future stimulus package includes direct aid to cities,” he added.
An ordinance allocating the Jackson County funds will be heard in Kansas City’s Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. If passed, it will be heard by the full city council as soon as Thursday.
County Administrator Troy Schulte said Kansas City only submitted a CARES Act budget for review last week which is a requirement before the funds can be released. As that review is completed, the funds will be wired to the city. He expects the wire to occur later this week.
In March, four community organizations established its own Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Together, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, United Way of Greater Kansas City, LISC Greater Kansas City (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), and the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) raised $18 million. Nearly $11 million have gone to over 260 non-profit organizations supporting impacted communities – particularly those that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
LISC Greater Kansas City Executive Director Geoff Jolley says their initial rounds of funding were primarily focused on community-based health organizations and those addressing food insecurity. As federal funding comes in, they are meeting with stakeholders around the metropolitan area to identify the best use of the remaining philanthropic funds.
“Our hope is that our elected officials will invest those CARES Act funding really, in a continued health focus, to support our schools, address some of the issues, like digital inequities, and ultimately then to address the pending eviction problem and housing issues that we know are forthcoming.”
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is another movement catching on in a show of support. It’s called Buy Black Kansas City.Business is steady at Ruby Jean’s Juicery at 30th Street and Troost in Kansas City.Some new customers were drawn here because of posts on social media to Buy Black Kansas City. It’s a movement urging people to show solidarity by supporting black-owned businesses.Owner Chris Goode said he appreciates the response.”When you buy black and you’re tangibly, intentionally saying, ‘I’m going to put dollars into a disenfranchised community,’ whether I’m white, Asian, Hispanic or whatever the case may be. That’s saying something,” Goode said.Goode grew up in the area and started his business here. He said it is all about unity. He said he has also lived the pain that is now spilling over into protests.He said the community support for black businesses is good, but he prays for bigger changes.”More than the emotional and pain of today, what I’m interested in is the progress and sustainable movement for tomorrow and the day after that, and the months and the years to come,” Goode said.Ruby Jean’s mission is painted on the wall: Health is freedom. Goode said he has always believed that health is something that ties us all together.”It was painted at the very beginning because that’s what we stand for. That’s what we want to represent — progress that speaks to the pain of black people,” he said.
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is another movement catching on in a show of support. It’s called Buy Black Kansas City.
Business is steady at Ruby Jean’s Juicery at 30th Street and Troost in Kansas City.
Some new customers were drawn here because of posts on social media to Buy Black Kansas City. It’s a movement urging people to show solidarity by supporting black-owned businesses.
Owner Chris Goode said he appreciates the response.
“When you buy black and you’re tangibly, intentionally saying, ‘I’m going to put dollars into a disenfranchised community,’ whether I’m white, Asian, Hispanic or whatever the case may be. That’s saying something,” Goode said.
Goode grew up in the area and started his business here. He said it is all about unity. He said he has also lived the pain that is now spilling over into protests.
He said the community support for black businesses is good, but he prays for bigger changes.
“More than the emotional and pain of today, what I’m interested in is the progress and sustainable movement for tomorrow and the day after that, and the months and the years to come,” Goode said.
Ruby Jean’s mission is painted on the wall: Health is freedom. Goode said he has always believed that health is something that ties us all together.
“It was painted at the very beginning because that’s what we stand for. That’s what we want to represent — progress that speaks to the pain of black people,” he said.
On May 27, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (the “Boston Fed”)—which is tasked with administering the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program (the “MSLP”)—released the agreements and forms for participants in the MSLP, along with associated explanatory materials and an expanded Frequently Asked Questions (the “FAQs”). Previous statements by the Federal Reserve have indicated the expectation of launch of the MSLP by the end of May or early June. While this release does not provide an exact launch date, we expect the publication of the documentation will allow interested market participants to begin negotiating and documenting loans intended for purchase under the program.
We have included below a description of the MSLP loan documentation package as released by the Boston Fed and a description of selected updates to the FAQs. For a summary of the terms of the MSLP facilities, please see Polsinelli’s previously-published Main Street Lending Program Whitepaper, available here. If you have additional questions about the MSLP, please reach out to the listed authors or your regular Polsinelli contact.
Lender Registration Materials — To participate in the Main Street Lending Program, potential lenders must register with the Boston Fed by filling out and returning the Lender Registration Certification and Covenants and the Lender Wire Instructions. This is a program-level registration that would not need to be repeated for each individual MSLP loan made by the lender. The release does not make clear when lenders can begin submitting registration materials, but the forms are available on the Boston Fed website.
The Lender Registration Certification and Covenants is a pre-printed form to be signed by both the principal executive officer and principal financial officer of the lender (or individuals performing similar functions). There does not appear to be a concept of senior officers within a lending division, as opposed to the entity as a whole, which may be problematic for larger institutions. The document includes certifications that the lender is an “Eligible Lender” pursuant to the MSLP terms, that it is eligible under the CARES Act conflict of interest provisions, that it is solvent, and the document includes covenants that the lender will promptly notify the Boston Fed upon any of the certifications becoming untrue. The form also includes acknowledgments relating to liability for misrepresentations, potential for lender information disclosure and a recordkeeping requirement.
The Lender Wire Instructions relate to payments owed by the MSLP SPV to the lender under the participation agreements or servicing agreements. It is required to be completed and signed by the lender’s principal financial officer (or individual performing similar functions).
Participation Agreement – The economic details of a participation being sold to the MSLP SPV are intended to be recorded in the Loan Participation Agreement Transaction Specific Terms (the “Transaction Specific Terms”). This is akin to a term sheet and would be filled out and signed by the lender. It incorporates by reference the Loan Participation Agreement Standard Terms and Conditions (the “Standard Terms”), which sets forth the substantive contractual provisions governing the participation. Since it is incorporated by reference in the Transaction Specific Terms, the Standard Terms would not need to be separately executed or delivered. Below are some significant features of the Standard Terms:
The Standard Terms includes an express disclaimer of any obligation to repurchase a sold participation, regardless of any default or misrepresentation by seller.
There is a “big boy” representation that each party may have material information not known to the other, and an express waiver of any claims related to a failure to disclose that information (except as otherwise required in the transaction documentation). The implication is that lenders are expected to originate loans within their existing underwriting and approval process, and lenders must provide the information required in the documentation package, but lenders are not required to disclose any other potentially adverse information in their possession.
The buyer and seller bear their own respective legal and other costs of documenting and selling the participation, but the MSLP SPV is required to reimburse the seller for its share of any out of pocket expenses and disbursements related to administration of the participation and the credit agreement and related credit support documents.
The Standard Terms includes a defined term “Core Rights Act”, which are significant lender decisions with respect to the loan. These actions could only be taken at the direction of the MSLP SPV as majority lender, or pursuant to a voting mechanism with other holders in the case of the MSELF where the MSLP SPV may not be the majority holder. There is a concept of deemed consent if the lender proposes to take a Core Rights Act but the MSLP SPV does not respond.
The originating lender is not a fiduciary, but is required to exercise the same duty of care it would exercise for loans solely in its own portfolio. Absent bad faith, gross negligence, willful misconduct or breach of any express provisions of the Standard Terms, the lender will not be liable for its actions or inactions.
The Standard Terms contains an “elevation” process for the MSLP SPV to be elevated from participant to assignee, and therefore a direct party to the credit agreement upon certain events. This would occur pursuant to an Assignment in Blank that is required to be executed by the originating lender.
Co-Lender Agreement – The Co-Lender Agreement is intended to be used for bilateral loans under the MSLP and it functions to build in mechanics to accommodate multiple lenders within a previously bilateral credit agreement. It is not a requirement in syndicated facilities as in that case the loan documentation should already contain the relevant mechanics. The Co-Lender Agreement is an agreement between the borrower and the lender (in both its capacity as participant and Administrative Agent), but is not initially effective and would only become so upon an elevation of the MSLP SPV to direct lender pursuant to the Participation Agreement.
Servicing Agreement – The Servicing Agreement governs the role of the originating lender as servicer of the loan—though the substantive obligations and standards around that role are primarily contained within the Participation Agreement, or, to the extent applicable, the Co-Lender Agreement. In addition to the pass-through of borrower communications required under the Participation Agreement, the Servicing Agreement requires the originating lender to keep records related to the loan documentation package and make them available upon reasonable prior notice. It also obligates the lender as servicer to provide specified information to the MSLP SPV on a quarterly and annual basis. The quarterly and annual information is listed on Schedule I to the Servicing Agreement, and includes borrower financial information, collateral value reporting and covenant default/cure reporting. The quarterly reporting requirements are more extensive for Main Street Expanded Loan Facility loans than for loans under the other two facilities.
Borrower and Lender Transaction Specific Certifications and Covenants – The MSLP documentation package includes Transaction Specific Certifications and Covenants in standalone forms for each of the borrower and lender, and with separate forms for each of the MSLP facilities. These forms document the certifications and covenants that are required pursuant to the previously-issued term sheets for each of the facilities. For lenders, this is separate and in addition to the Lender Registration Certification and Covenants, and would be required to be delivered with respect to each participation to be sold to the MSLP SPV. These documents are required to be executed by the principal executive officer and principal financial officer of a borrower (or individuals performing similar functions), and by an authorized signatory for a lender. As with the Lender Registration Certification and Covenants, this document contains an instruction and guidance portion, along with the actual form that should be executed and returned as part of the documentation package.
Other Loan Documentation – The Boston Fed did not publish a standard credit agreement or related documentation, and lenders are expected to utilize their existing loan documentation as modified for eligibility under the MSLP facilities. The updated FAQs contains an Appendix B which lists the covenants and other provisions that would be required to be incorporated into loan documentation.
An affiliated group of companies can only participate in one MSLP Facility (and may not participate in the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility), and the affiliated group’s total participation is capped at the maximum that the affiliated group would be eligible to receive on a consolidated basis. This restriction leverages the Small Business Administration’s expansive concepts of affiliation and aggregation, and could limit the eligibility of private equity portfolio companies or other investor-owned businesses.
A U.S. subsidiary of a foreign parent is eligible as long as it otherwise meets the U.S. nexus test, however the proceeds of the loan may not be used for the benefit of the foreign parent or affiliates.
Borrowers are required to certify that they are unable to secure adequate credit accommodations from other sources. This relates to a statutory requirement for the Federal Reserve Act provision under which the MSLP is authorized. The FAQs clarifies that this can be because the amount, price, or terms of credit are inadequate for the borrower’s needs, and that borrowers are not required to document rejections or receipt of unsatisfactory terms.
The FAQs note that the Federal Reserve does not expect to utilize the Participation Agreement “elevation” process in the ordinary course, even in borrower financial distress, but may do so where (i) the economic interests of the MSLP SPV and the originating lender are “misaligned” or (ii) the loan amount is relatively large in comparison to the MSLP SPV’s portfolio.
Since the Participation Agreement introduces the concept of MSLP SPV control over Core Rights Actions, the FAQs clarifies that the MSLP SPV will make commercially reasonable decisions to protect taxpayers from losses on MSLP loans and will not be influenced by non-economic factors when exercising its voting rights.
A significant open issue with the MSLP is whether severely distressed borrowers, who are most in need of financing, will be eligible for MSLP loans given the underwriting requirements. A newly-added FAQ notes that lenders are “encouraged to work with” borrowers affected by the pandemic and related shutdowns, and that lenders may “originate or expand” loans to those borrowers. However, the FAQ goes on to state that the lender must satisfy itself as to the borrower’s ability to repay and that the lender should apply safe and sound credit risk management policies and practices. It is unclear based on this question to what degree distressed borrowers who may not meet underwriting standards for non-MSLP loans would qualify for MSLP loans.
Lenders are allowed to make loans under any of the MSLP facilities and fund them prior to MSLP submission, or to make funding contingent on the loan or tranche being funded by the MSLP SPV.
The documentation and updated FAQs are available on the Boston Fed’s website here.
© Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in CaliforniaNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 150
Kansas City voters will decide on June 2 whether to raise taxes for the fire department. But with the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowing all other civic matters, it may be a very low turnout election for a crucial issue affecting the city’s fire protection and tax burden over the next 15 years.
The proposal is to raise the existing quarter-cent fire sales tax to a half-cent sales tax through 2036. It would generate an estimated $21 million more per year, or more than $300 million over the life of the tax, to pay for new ambulances and fire trucks, fire station upgrades and protective safety gear.
“We’ve got to find new revenue sources,” said Kansas City Firefighters Union President Tim Dupin, adding that the sales tax is the best available option. “We believe the citizens see the value of having the fire department adequately funded.”
The fire department also gets about $157 million per year from the city’s general fund, mostly for personnel, although that amount might be somewhat reduced if voters approve the sales tax increase.
Critics worry Kansas City’s tax burden is already too high, especially for low-income residents. And, they say, the economic downturn during the pandemic makes any additional tax even more oppressive.
“We’re already at a saturation point with our sales tax,” said Kansas City resident Angie Lile, who has opposed taxpayer subsidies for luxury housing and other lucrative developments in the city.
Lile said she is very supportive of Kansas City’s fire department but believes now is not the time for a tax increase.
“Thinking about hiking the sales tax at a time when our most vulnerable are affected by that, it’s just not right,” she said.
The overall sales tax in Kansas City is already nearly 10 cents on the dollar in most places. That includes the city’s dedicated 3-cent sales tax, plus the state and county sales tax and various community improvement or transportation levies.
Fire officials say the tax increase is crucial now because the city must replace its aging ambulance fleet, fix fire stations that have numerous maintenance issues, and provide life safety equipment for both first responders and citizens.
“It’s expensive,” conceded Fire Chief Donna Maize when she addressed a city council committee back in January. “You know, we look at all the things to keep our responders safe, keep them healthy, and be able to provide the best service to our residents. Personal protective equipment is a huge issue.”
Every firefighter costs about $80,000 with pay, pension, benefits and equipment.
Maize outlined $4 million in personal protective equipment needs, and that was even before the coronavirus was on everyone’s radar. A partial list of other needs includes $14 million for other safety equipment, $17 million for new ambulances, $26 million for new pumpers and nearly $9 million for fire station remodels. A new training academy, to replace the current 1960s-era facility, will cost an estimated $75 million.
Kansas City Finance Director Tammy Queen told the council that, if the tax is approved, finance officials would work with the fire department to figure out what is the best way to stretch those additional dollars.
The city council approved the ballot measure for April, but Gov. Mike Parson ordered the election postponed due to stay-home orders this spring.
Most council members supported the tax proposal. Mayor Quinton Lucas was absent for the vote to put it on the ballot and had not stated a position about the merits of the tax. But his spokeswoman said in an email to KCUR that Lucas will endorse the fire tax ballot measure.
Voters typically have been supportive of resources for the fire department. The quarter-cent fire sales tax was first levied in 2002, and voters renewed it in 2014 to extend through 2036.
Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said she is a strong proponent of the tax increase. “I believe now more than ever, the situation we’re in has shown the importance of having our first responders properly equipped,” she said.
Jan Parks, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform, said her group has not taken a formal position and there is no organized opposition to the tax. But she said she personally has concerns.
“It certainly is not that we don’t think public safety is essential,” she said. “But I think right now we are overtaxed, and so much has been diverted to affluent developments.”
Dupin said firefighters pay the tax too and he’s not unsympathetic to those concerns. But he said the fire department is not responsible for the city’s approach to developer tax incentives.
“I think people realize in the community that the fire department is more than just fighting fires,” he said. “I think they’ve seen the importance of firefighters throughout this pandemic. We don’t shy away from the community when they are hurting, and we are actually their safety net.”
With about 1,300 positions, the department already gets a huge chunk of the city’s general fund. Whatever it gets from the city, the police department usually also wants. The city also has a quarter-cent public safety sales tax earmarked for police equipment and facilities, which is set to expire in 2026.
Some people have said the fire department should try harder to save the city money. They point to other fire departments, such as the one in Oklahoma City, which covers a larger geographic area but has 1,030 positions and an annual budget of $164 million, compared to the $194 million budget this year for the Kansas City Fire Department.
Maize told the city council that the department has spent the sales tax money responsibly so far, using $47 million of the funds to repair or replace 12 fire stations and other sales tax funds to extend the life of the vehicles as long as possible.
“We attempt to utilize it to our best advantage,” she said.
Still, no tax increase is an easy sell in Kansas City. In 2019, voters rejected, by a nearly 2-1 margin, a proposed three-eighths-cent sales tax increase for early childhood education.
This election could be decided by a small percentage of voters.
Kansas City Election Director Shawn Kieffer said turnout could be less than 10% and possibly as low as 6%, although absentee ballots have been coming in steadily.