July 29, 2014

City hits pause on electric board’s offer for additional funding

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com

Although Gardner Electric Utility Board members have offered to inject more than $260,000 into the city’s budget in 2011, Mayor Dave Drovetta sent Randy Tedford, utility board chair, a letter saying the city council will not consider the offer until it addresses the 2012 budget.

“So as to not make any major changes outside of the normal budget process, your offer will be discussed next year in the context of the 2012 budget,” Drovetta wrote in the letter.

Last week, members of the EUB voted to increase franchise fees – dollars its pays to the city in order to operate a utility in Gardner – from 5 percent to 7 percent. Officials estimated that the move would inject more than $260,000 into the city budget. EUB members suggested that the additional funds be used for raises for city employees, but city council members would have the final say in how the extra revenue was spent.

However, council members will not consider the increased funding until budget season next summer. In Kansas, governing bodies of public entities including city councils, commissions and school boards are required to file their budgets nearly 18 months in advance. Budgets for 2011 were required to be filed with the state no later than Aug. 25, 2010.

Gardner council members approved a 2011 budget that included a 6.5 mill levy increase, or approximately $120 more for the average Gardner residence. The increased  mill levy is to makeup for a shortfall in the city’s bond and interest fund – a fund used to pay debt, however Drovetta told council members during an Aug. 16 meeting that the increase would also help improve competition for staff retention and staff satisfaction.

The 2011 budget also includes a 5 percent water rate increase and an 8 percent wastewater rate increase. The electric utility has not increased fees in the last few years, and electric director Bill Krawczyk said the franchise fee increase would not add costs to Gardner electric users. It will slow the speed at which the utility board increases its own reserves.

According to the franchise fee proposal adopted by electric board members, the 2 percent franchise fee increase would dissipate over the course of four years and return to 5 percent in 2015.

Utility board members hoped the fee increase would help the city council give    employee raises next year.

“We put a proposal in front of the board and this was a good faith effort on the part of Gardner Energy to try to help the city through this economic crisis,” Krawczyk explained.

The city has a budget shortfall, and most employees have not received salary increases since 2008. They have, however, received bonuses.

Krawczyk said city employees have also had their pension plans reduced by 75 percent and had layoffs. The city cut seven positions last spring and the 2011 budget will leave a few other positions vacant through attrition.

Mayor’s letter to electric board chair

Randy Tedford Chair
Electric Utility Board
1150 E Santa Fe
Gardner KS 66030

Dear Randy,

The EUB has made an offer to the City Council that they may consider using an increased transfer from the Electric Fund the franchise fee to help the General Fund during the economic downturn that we are experiencing. From what I understand the offer could start in 2011 and last until 2015.
The 2011 Budget has already been approved and we are soon ready to start discussions on the 2012 Budget.  So as to not make any major changes outside of the normal budget process, your offer will be discussed next year in the context of the 2012 Budget.

Sincerely,
David C. Drovetta, Mayor

Comments

  1. Dave Drovetta says:

    The bond and interest mill has nothing to do with employee pay. Your reference to my concern regarding staff retention is out of context and completely unrelated. Perhaps you should simply report rather than manufacture implications.

  2. The Electric Board has made it extremely clear that they are not serving the people of Gardner, Ks. but serving the wants and needs of the politicians and bureaucrats with the city of Gardner. Very, very sad since that very same Board was involved in the recall of three long standing citizens here in Gardner – that is my opinion – I stated at the time they should have resigned or be asked to step down. The same applies now – resign or the Council should ask that they be removed – that is if you have a Council that serves to be a checks and balance for the people which I highly doubt they are since four were appointed by Drovetta and the other has been a Drovetta follower since Day 1.

    Dirty, rotten politics and cronyism in the city of Gardner continues in my opinion and I believe the people will not be served by these activities.

    Once again it should also be made crystal clear that the city of Gardner and its citizens do not have enough money to flush the toilet due to that huge debt we are carrying and I would hope all citizens would know what brought on that huge debt. In the meantime, Drovetta is putting the banner out to the thieves stating we are open for business – open for more deals like this one or worse – all of these yahoos are putting the average citizen at a bigger risk by the day in my opinion.

    If you cannot connect all of the dots by now from what has been going on in the past, then you probably never will or don’t want to due to your own selfish agenda and/or being one of the special interests.

  3. Come on Dave it is Danedri, she is very biased, one sided and hates you what do you expect?

  4. As usual Drovetta does not want to be held accountable or responsible for his words, actions and voting record. Irresponsible people always have a whipping boy or girl to take the blame if they have their way – politicians give that example every day and it is part of the game and irresponsible people keep voting them into office. Gardner News or any other entity isn’t or hasn’t been responsible for your problems, Drovetta – you brought them on yourself.

  5. GardnerPride says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong Judith, but didn’t Dave just decline the offer? What is there to be held accountable for? I know that you are blind in your hate of Dave and the council, but didn’t he do just what you would have asked of him this time?

  6. Gardner Pride, you have not got it figured out yet or you have and still want to back Drovetta on his further manipulations that he is so accomplished at. The Electric Board and Drovetta had this deal long decided behind the closed doors but this time there was an outcry as there should have been and they all had to back off and try to once again make themselves look the innocents. It is evident you go along with all of the wheeling and dealing that has gone on for years and that is your CHOICE, but it certainly isn’t mine.

  7. GardnerPride says:

    In this case, I just don’t see the wheeling and dealing. Personally, if the EUB chooses to pass this money along in some way, and it doesn’t increase the cost of services to Gardner citizens, then I say go for it. I wouldn’t use it on employee raises though. The Council had to increase our Mill Levy to overcome budget shortfalls, and that’s where this money would be better spent. They will be in the same situation with our 2012 budget. Since the citizens have provided that money, give them all their “cup of coffee a day” raise.

  8. I think the talk about using Electric reserves is a good discussion. However, where was this discussion during the budget talks? There weren’t any serious discussions about using reserve funds for budget shortfalls during Council sessions. I don’t think it will be wise for the new council to entertain using reserve funds on employee raises until our shortfalls are fixed and our long term debt under control.

  9. GardnerPride says:

    Agreed.

  10. And keep in mind Drovetta did not want reserves lowered because he did not want the bond rating to be affected since I am sure he would not hesitate and more than likely has plans to borrow even more money which we can hardly afford – that is my opinion. Drovetta was very much in the drivers seat to get the huge debt we have with spending like there is no tomorrow – well, tomorrow is here and you see what is happening to the citizens in more ways than one. Drovetta and others have proven, in my opinion, that they will stonewall, tell half-truths, not be forthcoming, you never get the full truth, not getting competitive bids as procedure prescribes, withholding information, manipulating and the Open Meeting and Open Records Acts are only an inconvenience for them. Continue to support this type of government and very soon, in my opinion, you will have outright corruption. The choice is yours.

  11. Skullduggery? says:

    to the big dave
    and the king dave too

    Drovetta didn’t to the EUB say no
    he just postponed the increase until he says so

    people have a short attention span
    til nobody’s looking is still his plan

  12. What are the drawbacks of using reserve funds to bridge the shortfall? It could be argued that taking the reserve funds is robbing Peter to pay Paul. What if it was a short term solution to increase the franchise fee to pay the short fall.

    If you couple the increase from the EUB reserve along with heavy cost cutting we might be able to use it advantageously to fix short term issues. If we can get a similar commitment from the EUB to not increase utility rates this could be a viable solution.

    But again, if we are robbing Peter short term, sooner or late Paul will be coming along to collect.

    Thoughts?

  13. The problem is a lack of trust in the current city administration who have over spent for the past decade. The current administrators have no allegiance to Gardner taxpayers; they are simply building resumes by attending every conference and joining every organization to network. They don’t care about the rank and file.

  14. (employee raises next year) – Why, everywhere in United States all cities not seen a raise from police officers to people who collects Social Security has not seen or receive raises or bonuses. So why should I have to pay extra $130 a year more on my personal property when I have not seen a raise. Stop spending money, we do not need parks on every corner like banks. We missed out on tax benefit with many companies you refuse to let in here and for many years a large elephant over our head with a large water tower we can not use and who paid for that

  15. First reread the story. Second, these raises have NO effect on your property taxes. You’re just looking for an excuse to whine about something.

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