Here’s the bottom line on the bottom line: More than three-quarters of Kansas City’s general fund spending goes to public safety.
The biggest share of new spending in the city’s proposed budget will also go to fund the police and fire departments and municipal courts.
The Kansas City Police Department alone is slated to get $5.6 million more in the coming year.
Yet police board president Leland Shurin insists that the planned 3.3 percent increase is not nearly enough.
That may well be.
But maybe take another glance at last year’s efficiency study before asking for an even bigger share of the public pie?
In the past, Shurin has argued that many of the suggestions — such as reducing the number of supervisors and hiring more civilians as dispatchers — aren’t as simple as they sound.
Still, we don’t have to wonder why Mayor Sly James lost his temper at Tuesday’s Kansas City police board meeting.
“You want more money, you want more officers, find more inefficiencies in how the money is being used,” he told Shurin. “I kind of get tired of this banging on the city crap.”
Shurin noted what everyone in town already knows: Murders and other violent crimes are up.
“I understand that there are other things that the city has got to do,’’ he said, “believe me.”
Which James did not hear as magnanimity but entitlement.
“And I understand there are needs all around,’’ he shot back, “but there’s also people that get laid off as a result of increases in the public safety budget that are not public safety people.”
Are you listening, police board?
Because the mayor is right.
“If you want more money,’’ James said, “find more ways to be efficient just like we have to do, because we keep giving more and more money to public safety, and in order for us to do that we have cut things...That never seems to matter in these discussions.”
The city’s proposed operating budget for the year that starts on May 1 includes $5.6 million more for 15 additional patrol officers and eight emergency call takers.
That’s well short of the additional $9.3 million that Police Chief Rick Smith has asked for to hire 30 more patrol officers and 21 more dispatchers.
But police and fire can’t be the whole pie, which is the direction we’re heading.
No one underestimates what officers do, deserve or are up against, but as “banging-on-the-city” raps go, this one is not a very sad song.