Archive for April 2014

UG examines overtime pay

The Unified Government Commission tonight went into overtime to discuss public safety overtime pay and out-of-class pay.

The special meeting started at 5 p.m. and went over the two-hour time slot, and resumed later after the regular 7 p.m. meeting.

Mayor Mark Holland said that costs were up significantly because of overtime and out-of-class pay.

Costs were up by millions in overtime and out-of-class pay for three public safety departments, the Police Department, Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department, he said. There was also an increase of personnel.

“We have a major fund balance crisis right now,” he said. “We are at risk of losing our credit rating if we do not find a way to curb some spending.”

He said his goal is to do a comprehensive third-party look at all three of these departments, as well as a compensation classification analysis, to make sure the UG is functioning as efficiently as possible while delivering the same services and not compromising safety.

That $5 million spent on overtime and out-of-class pay to some employees in the three departments is enough to give a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment to each UG employee, he added.

Sheriff Don Ash, Fire Chief John Paul Jones and Assistant Police Chief Terry Terry Zeigler appeared before the commission to explain what is driving the overtime costs. They described staffing shortages in their departments, with employees being asked to cover vacancies or unscheduled leaves such as illnesses and family emergencies. They described their departments’ situations in detail.

The department heads told the commission that they were bound by contractual agreements on the issues of overtime and out-of-class pay.

Chief Jones told the commission there were currently 14 vacancies in his department and it will probably go up to 25 later in the year with retirements. The new recruit class will not be available until the end of the year, he said. The Fire Department is currently a little below national standards recommending 4 persons per truck, he told the commission. As the situation is now, he said to eliminate overtime would be a cut in service.

The commission threw out the idea of reducing the number of fire station in the city, and the mayor discussed assigning three to a truck and having a fourth arrive at a scene from another fire station.

Sheriff Ash, whose department had more than a million dollars of overtime, presented three options to the commission, including one that would save more than a half-million dollars.

He told the commission that if he could add employees, he could reduce the amount spent on overtime and out-of-class pay. Commissioner Ann Murguia asked about the possibility of adding a few part-time deputies.

Assistant Chief Terry Zeigler said late and extended calls were driving overtime in the Police Department, with officers staying on the scene to complete their work.

He said contract language had driven the staffing costs. In 2012, the department spent more than $500,000 on overtime because of contract language, he said. In 2014 a letter of understanding was signed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Department that addressed the issues and the amount spent on overtime is not as much currently. About $254,000 is projected for overtime this year. Commissioner Mike Kane suggested the other departments might want to work together with the unions on contract language to reduce overtime.

The commission also discussed trying to reduce overtime associated with officers having to attend court.


KCKCC’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble performs in New York City

“The Standard” Vocal Jazz Ensemble from Kansas City Kansas Community College recently returned from a trip to New York where they performed in the New York City Jazz Festival. (KCKCC photo)

by Kelly Rogge

“The Standard” Vocal Jazz Ensemble from Kansas City Kansas Community College recently returned from a trip to New York where they performed in the New York City Jazz Festival.

The group was selected by audition to perform in the festival, sponsored by Manhattan Concert Productions, April 11 to 13. The ensemble had two performances:

·         “The Standard” performed in a concert session with other high school and college vocal jazz ensembles from six states (Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Kansas, California and Indiana). The performance was in The Appel Room at Jazz At The Lincoln Center, and the KCKCC group was the only ensemble to receive a standing ovation at the first concert session.

·         The second performance was also at Lincoln Center in the Rose Theater (where Wynton Marilis plays). All of the vocal jazz ensembles combined to make a 100 person mass jazz choir that performed for more than 1,000 patrons. Student Laquita English, an Audio Engineering major, auditioned and performed a solo with the mass choir on an arrangement of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

During the weekend, KCKCC students were in rehearsals for more than eight hours, visited venues such as the Rockefeller Center and the Juilliard School of Music and attended clinics by nationally known vocal jazz educators including Steve Zegree (Indiana University), Ly Wilder (Indiana University) and Duane Davis (Western Michigan University).
Students on the KCKCC “The Standard” Vocal Jazz Ensemble Roster are Lauren Irving, soprano 1, Wyandotte High School; Allison Her, soprano 1, Washington High School; Stormy Rhone, soprano 2, Sumner Academy; Shelby Stephenson, alto 1, Turner High School; Andrea Rodriguez, alto 1, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; Morgan Tinsley, alto 2, Bonner Springs High School; Natalie Bennett, alto 2/tenor, Maranatha Academy; Laquita English, tenor, Wyandotte High School; Deandre Clark, tenor, Washington High School and Andrew Roberson, bass, Schlagle High School.

Rhythm Section members include Joyce Steeby, piano and KCKCC adjunct music faculty; Jamie Anderson, guitar, Shawnee Mission North High School; Trey Green, bass, Shawnee Mission North High School; Rex Hancock, drums, Tonganoxie High School and John Stafford II, director and KCKCC assistant professor of choral music.

For more information on the vocal jazz program at KCKCC, contact John Stafford at or call 913-288-7137.


Three area students at UMKC named to Phi Kappa Phi

Three Wyandotte County students recently were initiated into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

The students are LuDina Marney, Bonner Springs; Govinda Koirala, Kansas City, Kan.; and Bradley Hook, Kansas City, Kan.

Membership to the collegiate honor society is by invitation. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent also are eligible, along with faculty who have achieved scholarly distinction.