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Kansas City mayor proposes fee review for local businesses

  

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced a proposal to identify possible waivers for local businesses that comply with the city’s COVID-19 regulations Wednesday afternoon.

“While we continue to take all the steps necessary to keep our families and neighbors safe, it is vital we remember the tough challenges our small businesses — the foundation of our community — are confronting to stay afloat and to maintain work for the women and men of our city,” Lucas said. “I am proud that the Kansas City government has worked so quickly throughout this year to develop creative solutions to help our restaurants, taverns, bars, bakeries, and more. This proposal to review fee waivers for the year 2021 is yet another example.”

The proposal directed the city manager to review annual licensing fees for locally owned businesses and the service industry and seek out costs that can be waived, reduced, or deferred. One cost the manager would review is the standard Missouri Food Code permit fee, which is determined by the type and size of a business.  

Lucas said the proposal was suggested by An Zebley, owner of the local boutique and bakery YUM. Zebley said her business experienced issues in the wake of COVID-19, so she reached out to Lucas with the idea to waive permit fees for struggling businesses. 

“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how badly COVID-19 has harmed our local business community, and I appreciate Mayor Lucas’s willingness to listen to the community to help alleviate a small cost burden for local businesses such as mine,” Zebley said in a statement. “I’ve continued working to keep my bakery open, but because of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, I have had to scale back due to lack of staff and resources. This is in addition to the added costs of safely operating during a pandemic, increased cleaning, PPE, and other precautions. Fee waivers for 2021 would remove a small bit of financial pressure from not just my business, but from small businesses across our city.”

Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association Executive Director Bill Teel praised the move in a statement, saying it would be a relief to struggling businesses in the community.

“The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association supports Mayor Lucas’s resolution to review fees charged to businesses,” Teel said. “Any relief that can be provided to our Kansas City restaurants is both welcomed and needed.”

The proposal will be formally introduced during next Thursday’s City Council meeting. The city’s Special Committee for Legal Review is scheduled to consider the item Dec. 10.