The Cost of Inefficiency in Kansas City
Woody Cozad on Ruckus last Thursday talked about how poorly Kansas City government is managed. While most people are still learning how much our leaders like to divert tax money to wealthy developers to build in nice neighborhoods, fewer people might be aware of the cumulative impact.
In his remarks, Cozad compared Kansas City to Indianapolis. According to a case study written by The Show-Me Institute’s Michael Rathbone, Indianapolis is similar to Kansas City in education, median household income and poverty levels. Indianapolis has about twice the population of Kansas City and is just a little larger than Kansas City in total city area. (The study also compared us to Tulsa, Denver, Oklahoma City, Omaha, St. Louis, and Louisville.)
Despite the larger population and larger geographical area than Kansas City, Indianapolis appears to be run much more efficiently. Their total government spending per capita is much lower than Kansas City’s, $1.411 to our $2,354. They spend much less on city administration per capita and less for about every other category the paper examined, including public safety, public services, culture and recreation and capital outlays. The Mayor’s own Citizen’s Commission on Municipal Revenue reported in 2012 that Kansas City has a higher number of employees per capita than most other cities it considered.
If Kansas City leaders were able to bring total spending per capita ($2,354.05) just halfway down to what Indianapolis pays ($1,411.64), it would save us $220 million each year, almost exactly the amount the earnings tax provides. They don’t have to match Indianapolis—or the even more efficiently run Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Omaha or Louisville—just get us hallway there.
Even if Kansas City just lowered its per capita city administration spending from its current $210.59 down to the level of Omaha ($109.57) the city would save $46 million per year. We’d save $78 million per year if we reduced it to what Indianapolis spends ($43.47).
Instead, our leaders prefer to dig in their heels and offer only scare tactics about cutting public safety spending. Don't taxpayers deserve better?