Audit tells city the Port Authority ought to pay $135,000


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The old Richards-Gebaur site, where thousands in weird payments took place
  • Port Authority
  • The old Richards-Gebaur site, where thousands in weird payments took place

A city audit of expenses by the Port Authority of Kansas City says the agency should return $135,052 in sketchy payments related to work at the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base.

The Port Authority has typically been a sleepy extension of city government that primarily oversees property along the riverfront, which means it's the landlord for Kansas City's riverboat casinos.

Occasionally the agency hits a trip wire and becomes big news for a while.

The last time that happened was late 2010 when former Mayor Mark Funkhouser tried to jettison then-Port Authority chairman Trey Runnion after his term expired.

Like so many things during Funkhouser's four-year term, the City Council reflexively denounced Funkhouser's decision and tried to find ways to keep Runnion going as the Port Authority's chairman.

Funkhouser was suspicious of Runnion for keeping local attorney Bill Session around as counsel to the Port Authority after it had been discovered that Session also owned a company that had a multimillion-dollar contract to do dirt work at Richards-Gebaur, a decommissioned Air Force base that's now becoming an industrial development.

The apparent conflict of interest had Funkhouser waving newspaper articles before the local U.S. attorney and suggesting that an investigation should take place, but the U.S. attorney hardly spent time with the matter.

The Port Authority appears to have cleaned up its act with new leadership in place and is ready to actually try and redevelop the riverfront, but it now finds itself back in the headlines with a new audit saying the agency received improper reimbursements from the city.

A city audit found that the Port Authority would request reimbursements from different city departments for the same expense. Other reimbursements were made without supporting documents.

These problems all happened before current Port Authority president Michael Collins took over in 2011.

City officials generally agreed with the recommendations in the audit to try and get the money back and to improve their payment procedures.


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