By Leilani Haywood
The Lee’s Summit City Council narrowly defeated Substitute Bill 18-20 at their March 15, 2018 meeting that called for earmarking $2 million for general core employees and offering an annualized sum for salary adjustments of $1.8 million to the Fraternal Order of Police; $1.25 million to the International Association of Firefighters and $500,000 to the International Association of Machinists.
Mayor Pro Tem Rob Binney, Councilmembers Trish Carlyle, Diane Forte, and Diane Seif voted against the measure. Mayor Randy Rhoads cast his dissenting vote and recommended a hiring freeze. Voting in favor of the measure included Councilmembers Phyllis Edson, Craig Faith, Dave Mosby and Fred DeMoro.
“I’m going to suggest the following courses of action, six of them,” said Mayor Rhoads. “First of all I think we ought to institute an immediate hiring freeze except for a human resources director of new and replacement employees unless the positions are mission-critical for the city or might be considered essential for the city. Two, I think we should do an in-depth analysis of the city budget in an attempt to identify potential sources of excess and/or unnecessary expenditures. I think we should institute a feasibility and desirability study of a property tax increase.”
Rhoads added, “I think we should institute a feasibility and desirability study of a sales tax increase including the concept of a dedicated sales tax. I think we should institute a feasibility and desirability study of a use tax that would be for those out of city purchases like on the Internet. And this last one though it’s going to sound comical, I think it sends a message. I think we should immediately reduce the planned compensation increases for the elected officials and maintain it at the current level. That’s not a lot of money but it sends a message that we’re not going to raise our own salaries.”
Binney said that while he appreciated the discussion on the bill that it “doesn’t pay for a step plan for law enforcement. It doesn’t protect benefits. It doesn’t fix compression. It’s not physically sustainable.” He added, “That with the defeat of 18-20, we still owe it to employees to continue the discussion and find a way to increase wages. I still believe we get everybody back to the table, we get the negotiations done. I think there are some ideas on step plan and getting those things funded. I think we need to look at a three-year implementation on how to raise this funding and get everybody on board with that. I’m comfortable with bringing back original bill 18-20 and getting something in place for folks this year but that’s up to the discretion of the council at a later date.”
Faith said, “I echo what mayor pro tem just said, I do want to say to the employees that we do need to get this fixed. We’re going to continue. I don’t know why we can’t get on the same page with this but I think we should. We need to fix this sooner rather than later.” With the defeat of substitute Bill 18-20, Rhoads removed Bill 18-32 from the agenda that would have repealed Ordinance No. 7428 and established a new general fund reserve balance guideline to ensure the continued economic stability and competitiveness of the City of Lee’s Summit.