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Building Trust for Better Community Outcomes with Mark Funkhouser

Where Public Finance Works

Episode 12 Show Notes

“My mantra then, and now, is if you don't take care of the money, you can't take care of the people.”

- Mark Funkhouser, President of Funkhouser & Associates

Episode Summary

In this episode of Where Public Finance Works, we’re joined by Mark Funkhouser, an expert in government finance and urban management. From growing up in West Virginia to finding an interest in political science in Pennsylvania, discover the path that led Mark to become a pivotal figure in Kansas City's administration.

His career spans various roles, including social worker, director of the Performance Audit Group in Tennessee, and City Auditor in Kansas City. Through each position, Mark shares the importance of using government as a force for good, improving lives through effective management and fiscal responsibility.

Join our host, Tyler Traudt, as he introduces us to Mark's philosophy on leadership and governance. You’ll learn about Mark's strategic initiatives during his tenure as Mayor of Kansas City, where he focused on improving the city's financial health, reducing crime, and managing significant infrastructure projects. Mark's leadership saw Kansas City through the Great Recession, achieving the best financial condition in decades and a notable reduction in crime rates.

Mark also reflects on his post-mayoral career and his continued work in public finance and governance, including consulting and teaching, and his ongoing belief in the transformative power of effective public administration. His experience illustrates how effective governance can lead to better community outcomes and financial stability.

Featured Guest

Mark Funkhouser, president of Funkhouser & Associates, is a distinguished municipal finance expert with decades of government service. As the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, during the Great Recession, Mark made pivotal decisions to guide the city toward fiscal sustainability. His extensive experience as an auditor—coupled with his recent role as publisher of Governing magazine— has established him as a trusted advisor to government officials nationwide.

Mark holds a master’s degree in social work from West Virginia University, an MBA from Tennessee State University, and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in public administration and urban sociology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Top Takeaways From Episode 11

(1) A Journey from Politics to Public Finance: Mark shares his evolution from a political science enthusiast to a key figure in public finance. His early involvement in the civil rights movement and other social causes paved the way for his career in government service, starting as a social worker and progressing to roles in performance auditing and city administration.

(2) Balancing Auditing and Direct Services: Mark's transition from state-level performance audits to city-level direct services highlights the complexity and variety in public administration. He discusses how auditing combines elements of social science and accounting, providing a rigorous foundation for managing public resources effectively.

(3) Leadership During the Great Recession: As Mayor of Kansas City during the Great Recession, Mark emphasizes the importance of fiscal responsibility. His focus on eliminating unnecessary debt, avoiding unwise economic development deals, and ensuring realistic budgeting helped stabilize the city's finances and improve its long-term sustainability.

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