The city manager of Kansas City would have to disclose all special funding requests and get council approval for requests of $10,000 or more under a measure that received preliminary approval Wednesday.
The finance and ethics committee endorsed the new rules in the wake of controversy over City Manager Troy Schulte authorizing $15,000 for a youth mentoring event that never happened. The city is still trying to recover the money from the event sponsor.
The full City Council will debate the new rules April 11.
Schulte was unable to attend the committee meeting but sent word that he fully supports the new rules, as he gets many requests for funding outside the normal budget and appropriations process.
“He said, ‘This will make my life so much easier,’” said Councilwoman Cindy Circo, who has worked for months on new ethics policies and procedures for the City Council.
She said the new funding rules are part of a larger package of ethics ordinances that the council is expected to review and approve in coming weeks.
Circo said the council had realized many months ago that there wasn’t a good process for vetting funding requests to the city manager. But the problem was highlighted last November after Schulte authorized a $15,000 city check, with no administrative scrutiny, to anti-gang activist Ossco Bolton.
Bolton wanted to bring world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. to Kansas City for a youth enrichment event Dec. 8.
Women’s groups objected to the proposed event, saying Mayweather would not be a good role model because he had been jailed for domestic violence. Bolton canceled that event but argued he should be allowed to spend the money on a new event this year. The city has said it just wants its money back, and the two sides are now at an impasse.
Under the new rules, funding requests would have to be made in writing, naming the person or organization making the request, the amount of money needed and a detailed description of the proposal.
Requests under $10,000 would be disclosed as a communication to the City Council, and any council member could raise objections or concerns, which would trigger more review. Requests over $10,000 would have to go to the council for approval.
“There was a lack of a clear policy and procedure,” Circo said, “and so we addressed that.”