Updates and outcomes from MARC’s December Board meetings

Dec 24, 2021
| Posted in
Sun setting in a park during winter

The MARC Board heard a variety of updates, including reports on:

  • COVID-19 regional response: Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the region, a monoclonal antibody infusion expansion site opened Dec. 20 at University Health. A second site opened at Bothwell Regional. Both sites are supported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
  • MARC 2022 Budget and Work Plan: The Board approved the MARC 2022 Budget and Work Plan, which shows stable revenue and expenses of about $85 million. Board members heard highlights of the 2022 work plans for each policy goal area supported by the budget.
  • Federal policy agenda: Members advanced the federal policy agenda, which reflects issues of importance to the Kansas City region, by providing review and input. Priority areas included affordable housing and workforce development. Other issues included in the agenda came forward from committees, local governments and community partners.
  • Regional economic forecast: The region has recovered economically from the COVID-19 recession; however, demand snapped back faster than supply, creating upward price pressures. MARC’s chief economist, Frank Lenk, reported there are a million fewer prime-age workers in the U.S. labor force and most employers describe difficulties finding workers.
  • Ozone season wrap-up: The region experienced four ozone alerts during this season (March 1 – Oct. 31). While the area continues to meet the national health-based standard, MARC staff advised there were five poor air quality events related to PM2.5 (particulate matter) that impacted our community.

The MARC Budget and Personnel Committee considers all matters dealing with budget, personnel and bylaw amendments. At its meeting on Dec. 21, the committee heard reports on:

  • Local dues: Local government dues represent less than 2% of MARC’s overall budget, but they are unrestricted funds that provide a foundation for a broad range of regional programs and initiatives. B&P Committee members approved a 2% increase in dues for 2023, similar to previous years, to continue supporting MARC’s operations.
  • Regional Housing Partnership: B&P Committee members strengthened the Regional Housing Partnership by voting to accept a $150,000 grant from the Hall Family Foundation to supplement previous grants and support advocacy, financing and capacity strategies. The partnership will mobilize individuals and organizations to grow the supply of affordable housing for cost-burdened households.
  • 988 hotline launch: Members took steps to prepare the region for July 16, 2022, when the 10-digit national suicide prevention hotline will become 988. Phone service providers will route 988 calls locally. To get ready, MARC is working with Missouri community mental health centers and the Health Forward Foundation to ensure residents in crisis receive the care they need.
  • 911 equipment: A $938,841 request was approved to provide 911 dispatchers with call-taking hardware for fire, police and sheriff departments across the region. In 2022, 57 call-taking workstations will be replaced.
  • Double Up Food Bucks expansion support: To expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the committee approved a contract with the University of Missouri Extension Service to support the Double Up Food Bucks program expansion into more grocery stores and farmers markets in Kansas City and the west-central area of Missouri. The contract is for $757,622, with funds coming from a federal grant awarded to MARC in June 2021.
  • Early learning grant: The region will develop, expand and strengthen its early learning system through a $75,000 grant from the Stanley H. Durwood Foundation. The grant will, among other goals, increase access to quality early learning programs and address critical early learning workforce needs.