February 13, 2016

City outlines effect of potential mill increase on specific properties

Corbin H. Crable
The Gardner City Council, at a July 19 work session, received a glimpse of how the proposed 6.5 mill increase for 2011 would impact specific local homeowners.
City Administrator Stewart Fairburn gave council members a handout that detailed how much specific property owners would pay if the increase were to go into effect for fiscal year 2011. Each homeowner and residence was only identified by a letter.
“Some of you are on (this list), and some of you are not,” Fairburn told council members.
One home that was appraised at $231,300 in 2009, for instance, has dropped to $212,600 this year – a change of $18,700, or 8 percent. That homeowner paid $655 in city taxes per year in 2010, but if the mill rate were to increase, that amount would rise to $760 – a change of $106 per year, or $9 per month.
Fairburn said council members should operate under the assumption that valuation in 2011 would remain flat and finally see a 4 percent increase beginning in 2016.
The governing body also received similar information for unidentified, specific commercial properties, listed only as “medium retail,” “convenience store,” “industrial,” “large retail” and “office.” The industrial property listed was appraised at $1,264,000 in 2009 and at $1,082,000 a year later, a drop of $182,000, or 14 percent. That business paid $7,775 in city taxes in 2010 but would pay $8,413 per year if the mill increase were to go into effect; that’s an increase of $638 per year, or $53 per month.
Similarly, the property identified as “large retail” was appraised at $4,019,000 in 2009 and had an appraised value of $3,709,000, a drop of $310,000, or 8 percent. A 6.5 mill increase would mean the $24,723 that business pays in city taxes this year would rise to $28,839 in 2011, an increase of $4,116, or $343 per month.
The city’s General Fund itself has a shortfall of only a few hundred dollars, but the Bond and Interest Fund will see a large shortfall, due mostly to delinquency on special assessments.
Fairburn told the council that if it decides not to increase the city’s mill rate, it must trim $850,000 from the General Fund to make up for the shortfall in the Bond and Interest Fund.
“There’s nothing else in the line items that would equal that kind of cash,” Fairburn said, noting that the only viable option for reducing expenses in the General Fund would be enacting another reduction in force.
Gardner Mayor Dave Drovetta advocated against added staff cuts, saying it would “cripple multiple departments” in City Hall.
“I am not interested in participating in a reduction of staff,” Drovetta said. “To get to $850,000 is significant cutting.”
Fairburn said another option would be for the council to split the mill increase between 2011 and 2012 to lessen the financial effects on Gardner residents. As of now, there are no plans for a mill increase in 2012.
“If you want to decrease (the 6.5 mill increase) in 2011, it would still increase in 2012,” Fairburn told council members. “And you can do that.”
Council member Kristy Harrison said she was concerned that the mill increase would benefit no one in the short term.
“We’re not getting anything out of it,” she said. “No one’s getting raises.”
Pay ranges for city staff was another topic of discussion at the July 19 meeting, however, as Fairburn updated council members on city employees’ current placement on the city’s pay scale. Out of the positions listed in each department, 17 percent of city employees – 18 of them – are currently earning the maximum monthly amount for their individual position. Those include Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Stewart, whose minimum monthly earnings are set at $5,400 and maximum monthly earning are set at $7,540 (or $90,480 per year); Public Works Director David Greene, whose minimum monthly earnings are $5,640 and maximum monthly earnings are $7,920 (or $95,040 per year); and City Administrator Stewart Fairburn, whose minimum monthly earnings are $6,550 and maximum monthly earnings are $9,170 (or $110,040 per year).
Assistant City Administrator and Community Development Director Melissa Mundt stands at the 60 percent mark of the pay scale. Like Stewart, the minimum monthly earnings for her combined positions is $5,400, while the maximum monthly earnings are $7,540 ($90,480 per year).
A followup story on the city’s budget talks will appear in Friday’s edition of The Gardner News.
In other business, the council:
• discussed a possible consolidation of the city’s Public Safety Department with Fire District No. 1. Drovetta said both entities have begun debating benefits and disadvantages of consolidation in order to make both more effective. Police Chief Ken Francis said that as far as day-to-day operations are concerned, if both Public Safety and Fire District 1 decide to consolidate, the transition would be mostly smooth.
“On the law enforcement side, we wouldn’t miss a beat,” Francis said. “Tomorrow would look the same as today.”
A disadvantage to the consolidation, Fairburn noted, is that the two would not be under the city’s control. In addition, Fairburn said, there would be a period of cross-training for those employees affected by the decision.
“Let’s start walking forward and figuring out the logistics,” he said.
Talks on the pros and cons of consolidation will be ongoing, he added.
• joined the mayor in recognizing Dan DeMiyt, Tim Rodgers, Susan Hutchcraft, Mike Gardner, Forest Strentz and Jerry Sicks for their years of service to the city.
• approved a resolution authorizing the sale of a total of $7,995,000 in temporary  notes and general obligation bonds. The public sale will take place at 11 a.m. Aug. 16.

The council will next meet for a work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 26, at City Hall, 120 E. Main St.


  1. Worthless politicians and city administrators still do not want to address the issue of how adversely our huge debt is affecting our finances. When you are paying nearly $11 MILLION a year just to service debt and you are not even talking about that fact, then something is wrong. There are people who don’t want to be held accountable for that huge debt and how it came about. Until that tiger is looked squarely in the eye, you will never make any headway. You will continue to be chasing your tail. The day of reckoning is here.

    I would ask for the city to ask the County Appraiser to give them a report for the year of 2009 as to how many commercial entities in Gardner asked for and received a reduction in their appraised values and what was the total amount in reduced appraised values that resulted. I would then ask the same be done for residential entities.

    I would also bring to your attention the city of Gardner approved over $50 Million in IRBs for the Midwest Commerce project and yet the appraised value for 2010 is only coming in at $34,198,000. You help bankroll them for about $52 Million and yet you only are going to get 50% tax revenue on around $34 Million – you are going into the hole every which way possible due to the thieves and the worthless politicians.

    Cronyism government will bring you a high tax bill while the special interests enjoy their trip to the bank.

  2. Fairburn says if you decrease the mil levy in 2011, you still might have to increase it in 2012. Okay, that still gives us 6 months plus without a tax increase. If they are truly not getting anything out of it, wait until next year – why gouge us. I don’t have more money to give these people. Trim the budget. Let him and his spokesman take a paycut; that’s probably 25 percent of the shortfall.

  3. And since he wants to leave bad enough to go on a job search, give him his walking papers. Apparently his heart’s not here anyway, or could it be he rode high in the good times and now wants to go to greener pastures?

  4. I hope the pressure of accountability is being served upon Mr. Fairburn and it needs to be served to a few more in city administration as far as I am concerned along with the worthless politicians. We have a diddling little town of 18,000 people and these people are wanting to be paid like they are running the city of Overland Park or Kansas City. It is getting to the point where I would be willing to hire a sharp, young person involved in public administration who hasn’t been brain washed with the rotten politics yet and perhaps bring these young people up the way I would want them to go and would realize they work for the people of the city rather than the other way around. I would love to give an outstanding opportunity to young person with some strong moral values and who has their priorities in order. But wishing doesn’t cut it but some changes at the next election sure would be in order in my opinion.

  5. Judith, you sure get wound up and make good points, but you don’t realize those city administrators have never held a real job in the private sector. They couldn’t make it. They can’t even cut the budget or make projections correctly, and they base all their decisions off a “survey.” If they got rid of all the “suits” and left the working stiffs, the city would probably run even better.

  6. Judith and Jayz, neither of you have any idea what anyone in the city does. I wonder if we could put a price on the amount of labor the city has had to spend on Judith and her ridiculous open record requests. Jayz I’m guessing you have no idea what a “real job” is.

  7. Oh, yes, Ryan, I am dumb as dirt and you are brilliant as Einstein was. I have another morsel of information for you – those at city hall don’t give a rat’s kaboodie about me and what I think and they aren’t sitting around wasting any of their time with what I have to say or am concerned with. They have proven that time and time again so don’t think I am wasting your taxpayer dollar. I certainly haven’t brought to your doorstep that huge city total indebtedness that is costing you $11 Million a year to service.

  8. There comes a point when people get sick of listening to your requests, rants, and raves, and they start to ignore you. I think that is why you don’t get any love from city workers. Unfortunately I haven’t got there yet. For some reason I enjoy our friendly chats.

  9. gardner2 says:

    Here is another question, what if valuations go up then we are paying more than their projections and they pocket more of our cash.

    Judith is right about city employees, we need to find cheaper alternatives.

    Hearing the Mayor said he is unwilling to make deeper cuts is EGREGIOUS and a DERELICTION OF DUTY!!! This is the peoples money Mayor not yours. You need to make cuts and be responsible with the money you seem so eager to tax us with.

  10. Board of County Commisssioners Meeting Today

    Happened to tune in to this meeting today and I find the taxpayers of Kansas will be providing BNSF $35 MILLION for their intermodal project. So nice to see the taxpayers once again are called upon to bankroll a private company and their shareholders.

    Also today at 1:30 P.M. the Board will reconvene and on their agenda is the US 56 Corridor plan and the BNSF intermodal project updates. Thought you might be interested in this.

  11. Ryan: Your comments to me are hardly “friendly chats” as you well know and you once again tell me you have no credibility or character.

  12. gardner2 says:

    Wow Judith, that’s calling the kettle black

  13. gardner2: Ryan is the hypocrite – you should know by now I call a spade a spade and take all the flack for doing so.

  14. Watched the P.M. session of the Board of County Commissioners Meeting. Stewart Fairburn was present along with the usual crowd, BNSF, the Allen Group,Dillner, KDOT, a paid consultant, etc., etc.

    It was interesting to find that the city of Gardner has nixed the interlocal agreement that had been made for the intermodal trucks to be shipped along 191st St. to Gardner Rd. and using our Gardner Rd. interchange to get to I-35. This was lovely music to my ears but for the life of me I don’t recall the Gardner City Council voting on this change of plans so I sent the Council an e-mail questioning when the vote occurred. Do you think I will get a reply?????

  15. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Judith, it is my understanding that if BNSF did not break ground by December 31, 2010 (which is not expected), the 191st Street agreement would become null and void. However, at any time, by mutual agreement between BOCC and the City of Gardner, the agreement could also be terminated.

  16. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I also recall the Council discussing the 191st Street agreement in a work session after KDOT announced its preference of Homestead Lane for the new I-35 interchange. It was felt that since Waverly & 199th was not chosen there would not be as great an expectation of immediate ancillary retail commercial development along 191st west of Gardner Road, thus a diminished urgency for road improvements. Leaving the road gravel surfaced would save the County $14M and help deter truck traffic to the logistics park from the Gardner Road I-35 interchange.

  17. I urge all citizens to go to http://lims.jocogov.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=779&doctype=AGENDA and watch this P.M. meeting today of the Johnson County Commissioners. All the players were there. They took the $14 Million orginally planned for 191st St. and diverted those funds as you will see if you watch and listen to the meeting.

    Also please note Skippy advised that BNSF plans to have a contractor hired by Sept. 20th I believe it was and it was my understanding construction could begin before 1-1-11. BNSF wants that $35 MILLION FROM THE KANSAS TAXPAYERS in 2010 in my opinion.

    Mr. Kellogg, you are still going to be helping pay the County’s contribution of $14 MILLION and you will be helping to pay the state’s handout of $35 MILLION that BNSF will be getting. And let me remind you that will be just the beginning of the billions of dollars you will be helping to pay for this project.

    In that meeting today it was made clear to me that Gardner had terminated the interlocal agreement with respect to 191st St. My question again is when did the Council vote to take that action???

  18. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Thank you, Judith. I meant to include that URL in my first comment above. I was on the LIMS site from 1:30 onward this afternoon, but the broadcast was not available to me. Archived meeting videos are available the following Tuesday after the conclusion of a televised session, so I’ll check again on July 27.

    I have no personal recollection of a formal Council vote to terminate the 191st Street agreement, so please let us know what you find out if you receive any response(s) to your email enquiry.

  19. The archived video is already there and you do not have to wait until next Tues. to watch and listen to that Commissioner Meeting. Enjoy watching as the thieves and worthless politicians put you in the hole for several generations.

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