A new consultant’s report bluntly reinforces what many Kansas Citians have known for years after spending too much time and money trying to get development plans through City Hall: The Planning and Development Department is broken.
It suffers from unacceptable customer service, a negative culture among employees, lack of productivity, a silo mentality that prevents cooperation and an overall inability to promote economic development in a well-planned city.
The Zucker Systems study offers City Manager Troy Schulte dozens of reasonable ways to more efficiently serve businessmen and women looking to invest in this region. Many suburbs outperform Kansas City in this crucial task and have used that advantage for years while wooing new development.
The 325 suggested changes span a wide range. They include adding “large titles at top of all handouts,” having a Spanish speaking staff member on the department’s main floor to deal with customers and doing performance evaluations on time. The City Council will have to determine whether it makes sense to change the fee structure to support necessary upgrades.
City Hall clearly should not cut corners when it comes to quality of development. The agency has to diligently review all plans brought to it by developers. Neighbors need to know what’s going on. Rubber-stamping proposals is unacceptable.
But making it easier and faster to do business in Kansas City is a worthwhile goal that the Planning and Development Department must strive to accomplish.