December 20, 2014

Committee’s role defined in utility study

Danedri Thompson
submissions@gardnernews.com
Council members hashed out the purpose of committee that will study a potential public-private partnership to lease Gardner’s utilities during a meeting Oct. 3.
Council member Chris Morrow is charged with leading the committee, but told council members he’s had little success getting the committee off the ground. Morrow said he’s had ongoing discussions with interim-city administrator Melissa Mundt about the committee.
“I don’t think we’re understanding each other very well,” he said.
Council members reached a consensus to create an ad-hoc committee of Gardner citizens to study the issue on Aug. 3. They offered formal approval at an Aug. 15 meeting. Morrow said he was under the impression that the committee would be fully operational before the Oct. 3 council meeting.
“It’s two months after we started talking about the committee. I’ve had volunteers in place before we approved the committee on Aug. 15,” Morrow said. “This item didn’t even make it on the agenda. I would like to move forward with this committee.”
Morrow was prepared to host a meeting this week, but was told by staff to halt.
“I would like to get informal consensus to move forward,” he said.
Staff drafted a Request for Information (RFI) asking potential companies that might be interested in forming a partnership with the city, in which the city would lease its utilities to a company and the company would take over daily operations, to submit their interest.
To date, four companies supplied RFIs, but Mundt said staff won’t begin examining the packets until Wednesday. In the meantime, she said city staff should be included in committee meetings. That, she said, requires that staff be provided an agenda in advance of a meeting.
“The citizen committee was intended to be a citizen committee,” Morrow said. “I don’t know that we have to have staff members at every single meeting.”
However, city attorney Jim Hubbard said it would be his preference that city staff be included in meetings.
Ideally, the committee will function as a collaboration rather than a group that takes its orders and ideas from city staff or from him.
“You’re talking about myself or you coming up with what we need to study,” he said.
Morrow said he asked a city staff member and Gardner resident to serve on the committee, which he would like to see meet every Tuesday night.
“It’s more of an issue of what we already have on our plates,” Mundt said. She listed possible annexation related to the Gardner-Edgerton School District bond issue as a top priority above the utility committee.
The utility committee will hosted an informal meeting after press time at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night. Council agreed to approve the committee members and proceed with more formal meetings sometime after the Oct. 17 council meeting.

Comments

  1. I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t they want peoples ideas and opinions?

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    Why won’t they or the school district answer your questions? Why do they do and not do so many things and this has been going on for years and you have a city and school attorney telling them how to manipulate and connive to their heart’s content – that is my opinion. You can roast or toast that City Hall and School Dist. wheelers and dealers all you want but you better be thinking long and hard about what results are coming out of City Hall and your School Dist. and how all of the back door wheeling and dealings are affecting you as a citizen.

  3. Judith Rogers says:

    I have to wonder if Mr. Drovetta wants Mike Press in house before this committee meets so he can oversee and control what comes down. I have lost all faith and trust in my government based on my experiences with them and seeing time and time again how you don’t have a government for, of and by the people but a sham government controlled by a few.

  4. it’s because they don’t want to hear what people say. or Melissa has a vendetta. Hell hath no fury like Melissa questioned.

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    Just reviewed the agenda for the City’s Work Session for Oct. 10, 2011 and the limited information available through supporting documents. Here are my comments to the Council based on that limited information. Would encourage all citizens to submit their thoughts and preferences.

    ******************************************************************************************

    Council: After reviewing the Work Session agenda for this coming Mon. evening, I have the following requests:

    1. I want the city to provide NO financial support for this upcoming school distrtict bond issue and the items that will be requested under it. These costs should be borne by all entities within the school district and I definitely do not want any benefit districts to be offered to them. ALL of their needs should be financed by the School District.

    2. With respect to outdoor storage, I would like for the city of Gardner to be like the cities of Overland Park and Leawood which do NOT allow outdoor storage. Considering what is coming down the pike this protection will be needed for the citizens at large.

    3. Under no circumstances do I want an outside entity involved in the videotaping of ANY city meetings. This program should be handled in house and with city funds. These meetings should be taped and ARCHIVED in such a manner that ANY citizen may have the ability to access a taped meeting video at their convenience and no stonewalling/controls/user fees should be in effect in any way. The citizens should be able to access these taped meetings thru the City’s website and no outside firm should be involved, have ownership rights to the tapes or any control whatsoever. I am very willing to pay for the equipment that will be needed and training of any personnel to keep and operate the equipment for the benefit of the citizens, however, like anything else I expect ovesight and fiscal responsibility to always be in place.

    Judith Rogers
    Gardner, Ks.

  6. John Rose says:

    I do not understand why the city is interested in leasing its infrastructure to a private company. How is this going to save the city money?
    Manpower- Will private company that leases our system have adequate staff to do the work that is currently performed by our city employees. Will they be able to keep up with all of the daily maintenance and operation of our utilities? They will be trying to do everything our current staff does, while trying to make money for the owners/investors of the operating company.
    Maintenance- If we still own the infrastructure and lease it to a private company, it will be our tax dollars maintaining the system. In the short term, will a private company forego maintenance on our utilities to show a cost savings for the city? Once the lease is up and the city takes the operation of our utilities back, or another company leases our utilities, will the city be left with equipment and infrastructure that is in worse shape than when the city turned it over to the private operator?
    I really have a hard time seeing how a private/for profit company is going to do what our city staff currently does and do it for less than what we currently spend.
    I do not think that we should invite someone into town to profit off of our city owned utilities. We paid for all of infrastructure – we are still paying for much of it. Why should someone else try to profit off of our public property and pass the tab for operation and upkeep on to us?

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    Well, to me it will be very similiar to this recent sell off of our fire department. In that instance and this one I believe we lose control and those jokers will be able to tell you what they are going to charge you and you won’t have much of choice in the matter – you will just have to pay for the services PLUS A PROFIT FOR THEM and who knows how our assets will be maintained or what they will be wanting you to pay for in new systems in the future and probably again for the benefit of the damn intermodal and not the citizens of Gardner.

    The selloff of the fire department was even worse. There we lost our assets and placed ourselves in a position to have to rent-a-fireman at whatever cost they deem reasonable from here on out or be totally under Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. with their escalating mill levy and you will also indirectly be paying for those huge increase in costs for the fire protection of the intermodal. Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1 has raised their mill levy each of the past two years and I hate to think how it will be inceasing in the years ahead. Those developers won’t be wanting to pay their property taxes or any other tax if they can get out it via worthless politicians and once again you will be the ATM machine of choice. And the worthless policitians, bureaucrats and thieves really put the knife in your back on that selloff of your fire department but they did back in 2006/2007 too when they sold the citizens on needing that fire station on 183rd St. (that was one of BNSF’s first demands in my opinion) which ended up costing almost 3 times what they said originally it would cost and that over million dollar ladder truck. Privatization of gains and socialization of costs and losses – unless a citizen is dumb as dirt, they should know where they stand with respect to costs and losses.

    So if Drovetta is bringing in Mike Press or anyone else to get the job done on the utilities or other things the big boys want and need you are hereby forewarned. Figure it out yourself but please figure it out people before you are on your knees digging for potatoes in order to survive.

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    Most distressing to me to read the following article. I knew Brownback was working on how and who will pay taxes and looked for a bill to be submitted in the upcoming session. This article tells me I was right on spot. Much like Drovetta’s secret “citizens” in picking a city administrator, we see more of the back room wheeling and dealing and then the citizens will be given the grand plan on a silver platter. Our cronyism government gets worse by the day and no wonder there is so much conflict. I have said all along that Brownback wants to eliminate state income tax for the benefit of the big boys and I know how he will make up for the lost tax revenue. Get your checkbook ready, that is if there is any money left in your account. Last year the citizens got the biggest tax increase in the history of Kansas with that sales tax robbery but alas, another robbery may be right around the corner. And the same kind of crud is going on right in your own backyard.

    ******************************************************************************

    Kansas task force working in secret on tax proposal

    October 8, 2011

    There is a task force in state government that is going to deliver to Gov. Sam Brownback a tax proposal that could affect every Kansan.

    But who those task force members are, what their backgrounds are and what stake they have in the outcome have been mostly hidden from the public. There have been no public meetings.

    One thing is known: Arthur Laffer, one of the architects of President Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics, “is providing his expertise throughout the process and he will be in the state helping to present the tax plan once it is finalized,” according to Jeannine Koranda, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Revenue.

    Laffer is being paid $75,000 for his consulting services, she said.

    Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan is heading the effort to give recommendations to Brownback by the end of the year. Jordan has said a task force is near completion of its task.

    When Jordan’s office was asked by the Journal-World to provide names of those serving on the task force and other details, the office provided little information.

    “People are being pulled into the discussion as their expertise is needed,” Koranda said. “More people are being consulted as time goes on; just about everywhere the secretary goes, people are providing ideas.”

    Koranda said that senior Revenue Department staff members Richard Cram, head of policy and research, and Steve Stotts, director of taxation, have been consulted.

    “These consultations have also included leaders of the House and Senate tax committees, various state agency heads, economists and business owners. The discussions have not been limited to a set group of people nor have they been scheduled on a regular basis. This is not an appointed group,” she said.

    But only Republican leaders of the House and Senate tax committees have been consulted so far, she said. Brownback and Jordan are Republicans. Koranda said Democrats will be talked with before a bill is introduced.

    She declined to identify any of the business owners lending their advice.

    Jordan, a former state senator from Shawnee, has played his hand close to the vest on which taxes will be reduced.

    But Brownback is eager to cut taxes, subscribing to Laffer’s theory that reduced taxes produce more business growth, which eventually will result in more revenue to take care of government needs.

    He has stated several times he wants to decrease the state income tax.

    But others say that after years of budget cuts to schools, social services and public safety, now is not the time to cut taxes.

    “I hope when Gov. Brownback looks at Kansas he sees our people, not just dollar signs,” said Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon.

    “I have serious questions about what this tentative tax reduction plan will mean for everyday Kansans,” she said. “Will parents continue to see increased class sizes in their kids’ schools? Will abused and neglected children still be left without immediate access to help? Will seniors have to go without Meals on Wheels?”

    .

  9. Not surprising. Most of government is conducted out of vision of the people anymore. That’s why we’re in the mess we’re in nationwide.

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