September 22, 2014

Council agrees to financially support infrastructure for school bond issue

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com

Extending Grand Street and upgrading sewers in the center of Gardner will cost the average homeowner approximately $72 per year, according to city and school officials.
City officials estimate that the owner of $160,000 home would need to pay an extra $63 per year on their city tax bill, and an additional $9 per year on their school tax bill to extend Grand Street between Center Street and Moonlight Road and to upgrade existing sewer lines near two new proposed schools.

Laura Gourley, city finance director, provided the council with what she called very rough estimates on the costs to the city to fund part of the road and sewer expansion. During a city council work session Monday night, she said she sees no way the city can participate in the project without increasing revenues – most likely by raising property taxes.

And, tax bills will also likely increase if voters pass the proposed school bond issue. Voters will be asked to approve the proposal in a special January 2012 election. School officials anticipate requesting a $60-$70 million for a new elementary school and a new middle school to be located south of Main Street – just over the Center Street bridge – and east of Center Street near the Plum Creek subdivision.

Under the proposal, the school and the city would split the cost of extending Grand Street and upgrading the existing sewer system. Without the city’s participation in the Grand Street project, GE Superintendent Bill Gilhaus said school officials could decide to create a private road to the school property that ends in a cul-de-sac.

Council members Chris Morrow and Larry Fotovich both said they’d like to know exactly how much property owners’ tax bills would increase when the $60-$70 million school bond is added to the bottom line.

“The thing I’m struggling with is we’ve got the math for the road pretty easily,” Morrow said. “We still don’t have an idea on what (the bond issue) is going to cost the Gardner taxpayer.”

However, Gilhaus said the district isn’t prepared to discuss those numbers yet.

Eric Hansen, school business director, said in an interview following the meeting, that school officials anticipate the bond issue will add between $36 and $60 annually to the average homeowner’s tax bill.

Gilhaus said the question is, assuming the voters approve of the bond issue, would the city council support funding part of the road and sewer.

Council member Dennis Pugh said the city has a long history of supporting the schools.

“If this happens, we need to find a way to support it,” Pugh said.

Council member Kristina Harrison also offered approval.

“I personally don’t think we have any choice but to support it,” she said. “But I do think it’s imperative that residents understand that as it stands right now, they will get a mill increase to support it.”

Fotovich had several questions for school administrators. He asked whether they had considered building on land they already own near Pioneer Ridge Middle School where infrastructure already exists.

Gilhaus said the district isn’t growing in that part of town. He explained that school officials examined eight potential sites between Interstate 35 and Main Street and between Center and Moonlight. Many weren’t large enough to support two schools.

Putting the two schools next to each other lowers infrastructure costs, he explained.

Also several of the sites were near power lines.

He said research suggests that schools shouldn’t be built near power lines.

“There’s pros and cons to every site,” Gilhaus said.

Fotovich also asked whether officials had considered redrawing school boundaries to get by until economic conditions improve.

“The school district could change boundaries every six months, and (the elementary schools) are all full by 2013,” Gilhaus said.

He said without new schools, the district will have to increase class size. Currently, the district tries to maintain maximum class sizes of 20 plus grade level. For example, the maximum kindergarten class is 20; the largest first grade class has 21 students; and the largest fourth grade class has 24 kids.

“If you don’t build new facilities, class sizes increase,” Gilhaus said.

Although the economy has slowed, Gilhaus said the district grows by 5 to 6 percent each year.
Voters will be asked to approve the school bond issue in January 2012. However, costs associated with that ballot will not include likely property tax increases from the city.

The council appeared to reach a consensus that they would support funding part of the Grand

Street extension and sewer upgrades. However, the council did not vote on the issue.

“Doesn’t spending this kind of money require a vote somewhere?” Fotovich asked.

Mayor Dave Drovetta said council members would vote on the expenditure when they approve future budgets.

“If we say we’re going to support it, that needs to be communicated,” Drovetta said.

Comments

  1. Speechless says:

    What kind of timeline are we talking about here?

  2. GardnerPride says:

    Because the district is shared between the two cities, shouldn’t part of the cost be shared with Edgerton? Is it already?

  3. Charlie K says:

    So nothing on how Drovetta is trying to ‘lease’ all the city utilities in what seems to be an apparent attempt to get some quick cash for this infrastructure? Very convienent little agenda last night. Item 1 being ‘Hey we need money for the schools but oh wait, we don’t have any.’ and Item 2 being ‘Hey, we can get money for selling off more of the city!’

    Apparently that is the new government strategy, sell off as many bits and pieces of Gardner as you can to keep going. Who cares if we have nothing left in the long term? At least we can get by until the next re-election…

    I understand the importance of saving money or at least the importance of an ‘apparent savings’ to everyone’s re-election, but we’ve already sold our fire department, now the Mayor is wanting to sell the utilities… Where does it stop? Soon Gardner will just be annexed into Olathe or Edgerton because there is nothing left of the city but the City Admin, Mayor, Council, and a bunch of really nice parks.

    If you look at a business they grow and make money by integrating and expanding their business. Apparently we need take the opposite approach and strip the city down and part it out.

  4. Samuel K says:

    I thought the city had considered selling the electric utility a few years back and Drovetta was one of those who nixed the idea?

  5. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    GardnerPride, as I understand the financing plans, the costs for the two new schools would be paid for by all school district taxpayers, including all Gardner, Edgerton and Johnson County taxpayers residing within USD231 boundaries. Costs for infrastructure improvements located within Gardner city limits would be split 50-50 between City of Gardner taxpayers and all school district taxpayers.

  6. Jared Taylor says:

    Charlie, I’m unsure of why the Mayor researching outsourcing city utilities is a bad deal? If it saves us money, why not? Why not raise cash if we can? And if we can raise cash instead of taking on new debt why not?

    I can’t believe that in this economy we are taking on new debt, that the taxpayers of Gardner will be asked to pay an additional $75~ per year for new schools. I have children at Moonlight and I want to know what the school district has been doing with all the money they raise from my taxes each year.

    Someone needs to get a stomach and start asking the school district tough questions. I don’t agree with Harrison, I don’t think WE HAVE to do anything. What other options are there?

  7. James Peterson says:

    I was at the council meeting. There were lots there. “Without the city’s participation in the Grand Street project, GE Superintendent Bill Gilhaus said school officials could decide to create a private road to the school property that ends in a cul-de-sac.” I say go for it. We don’t need to pay more taxes and high salaries for the superintendent and his right hand men.

    As for the utilities, sounds like electric is doing very well and is managed by a board. Apparently the problem for the city is water and wastewater. The question was weather to see if council wanted to spend money to see if anyone was inteested in managing the utilities. That would be to spend money they don’t have. Why create another bill for the city to pay to have someone manage a utility-electric-that is being managed just fine and to manage water and wastewater-who is not doing fine. Why not let the board run both? Wouldn’t cost anything and it might work.

  8. Charlie K says:

    @Samuel K
    Actually, if I remember correctly Drovetta (on the council at that time) voted for it. Apparently he is still trying to make it happen as Mayor.

    @ Jared Taylor
    Well the ‘researching’ is costing the city money. Money and time will be spent preparing documents to send out and get proposals and then money and time will be spent analyzing those proposals. I think James has the right idea in that if the electric is doing well under the Utility Board, why not let them manage water and wastewater as well? Why spend money looking for external solutions and possibly give away another piece of our town when we apparenty have a viable internal solution already? It’s just another exercise in wasting money.

    I’m honestly surprised this is coming from you though Jared… Taken from your Taylor for Council page:

    “Consolidate all city utilities under one board to allow for maximum efficiency and savings”

    Now you don’t think that is a good idea? As someone who voted for you I’m very disappointed to see you going back on part of your campaign platform.

  9. Jared Taylor says:

    @Charlie
    Thanks for the support. I’m trying to go back on anything however some circum stances have changed. Two things: 1- the USD is asking for 60 million dollars. 2 – we need cash to pay. My philosophy of paying without going into further debt is more important then consolidating utilities.

    We need to raise cash which means selling assets. I don’t want the tax payers to take on what will most likely be another $100 in taxes a year, especially after the mill increase we just received from the city. With exception to Fotovich I don’t think anyone on the council will fight additional tax increases. Morrow might be another exception.

    The matter of fact is that our water and wastewater rates are some of the highest in the county. The electric runs s fine but so does KCPL. If we can raise cash and let folks with more ability run our utilities then we should do it. Al I’m saying is that we deserve to find out.

  10. As an FYI. KCP&L is looking at increasing their rates. Gardner Energy doesn’t have an increase in rates for at least the next 4.5 years.

    http://www.kcplenergyplan.com/news-releases

    KCP&L Proposes Environmental Retrofits to La Cygne Power Plant
    Environmental retrofits are necessary to continue operating La Cygne.

    KCP&L needs to upgrade emissions control equipment for its La Cygne Generating Station by June 1, 2015 to meet its obligations under its agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the agency responsible for ensuring compliance with federal EPA air quality regulations. Our analysis indicates making these environmental retrofits and continuing to operate La Cygne is the best option for providing reliable affordable electricity to our customers.

    KCP&L initiated a process to provide information and seek approval from the KCC.

    In February, KCP&L made a filing with the Kansas Corporation Commission seeking approval of the costs for these environmental retrofits and determination on how these costs will be included in our rates. This is known as the predetermination process and provides a framework for approval to move forward with the proposed environmental retrofits and determine how the cost of the retrofits might be recovered in rates.

    The predetermination process allows for community input.

    The predetermination process provides an opportunity for the community to obtain information and provide input before significant investments are made by KCP&L that affect the way we plan for our region’s energy future. We look forward to engaging with the Commission and other parties through this process and welcome you to our public hearing.

  11. Charlie K says:

    I believe the USD’s bond is a seperate issue though. We will vote on the 60-70 million bond for the new school seperately and the Council doesn’t have any say in that part, it’s all in the hands of the voters. All the City is on the hook for directly is the road and utilities for the school which is only a couple million dollars, which is assuming the USD bond even passes. Selling the utilities would cover the cost of the infrastructure for the school and certainly then some, but it will not be used towards the 60-70 million cost of the school because it cannot be.

    Apparently instead it will be used towards smart things like $183,000 worth of foot bridges on a trail. You know, things we need.

    I just think selling off bits and pieces of the city every time we need some cash is a very short sighted and poor strategy. It’s like going out every month and blowing your paycheck and then pawning something you own whenever a bill comes up. Maybe you should just think about being smart with your money? If economic times are so dire we need to sell assests then I don’t think budget items like $75,000 for a new HVAC system in City Hall and $183,000 worth of foot bridges on some trail are things that should even be entertained.

  12. Drovetta’s huge debt he helped bring about is now truly adversely affecting the citizens and yet there are those who will continue to not hold him accountable.

    Drovetta and his gang sold off the fire department to lower that debt and to lower operating expenses but in the end the citizens will be paying much more for their fire protection and also help the thieves in the process in my opinion – just the way cronyism government works.

    When the Electric Board pulled that manipulative move to increase the franchise fees paid to the city so they could increase city employee salaries told me right up front and in my face that good ole rotten politics is still working fine at City Hall and with that Electric Board. There is no TRUE division between that Electric Board and the city of Gardner – it is business as usual.

    I believe that if you let this move of your utilities to occur, in the long run the people will be adversely affected and certainly will result in a higher cost and less control for the citizens. All of this occurring because you have had such pi– poor management and representation at City Hall for years and now the piper has to be paid. Look at dear ole Bell, Ca. which many don’t want to but which might help you learn a thing or two – that city manager was a pro at transferring the money around and setting up different outsourcing deals and secret funds, etc., etc. and now they are on the verge of bankruptcy while cleaning up the mess of the money and greed big boys.

    As far as that school deal, they need a road and a sewer so to me that should be in their lap and they need to finance those costs and not involve the city – treat them like you would a developer unless you want to continue the sweet deals that developer Paul Licausi has got due to cronyism government and which puts the taxpayers at risk while he pays his slimy $8 a year farm appraised and assessed property taxes when for 8 years I know there was never a farm crop on that corner of 183rd St. and Center. Let all of the citizens within USD 231 School Dist. pay for that road and sewer just like Gardner citizens will be paying for the fire protection costs for that horror story intermodal and warehouses now due to the transfer of our fire department to Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1.

    Then you might ask your school district how much is left on the present school bond that we have and how much is the new one going to cost including interest, legal fees, etc., etc. It will be closer to $100 Million than $70 Million and perhaps more. Then you will be facing about a $100 Million debt for your city and probably that much or more for your school district. That school board just recently renewed Gilhaus’s contract for 4 years. In my opinion they and Gilhaus owe the people a whole lot and so far they haven’t told you a thing other than to also be getting the back room deals done to get what they want while the citizens are the ATM machine once again. I think this one is one that will cause the ATM machine to stop working or not having the funds to take care of all of them or us.

    Citzens better be working hard for some alternatives and perhaps seeing finally what cronyism government has brought them and will continue to bring them if they allow it. Way past time to recognize what is the proximate cause to the problems government entities and the citizens are facing and holding some people accountable and making better choices and decisions. That is my opinion.

  13. And one of the first things the citizens need to do is demand that ALL city meetings and perhaps School Board meetings be videotaped and placed on their websites so the electorate may be better informed and educated on important issues. And the citizens better start getting off their lazy rearends and get educated and finding their voices and speaking out, asking questions and holding some people accountable. Until that is accomplished you will be fighting the same ole crud time and time again and it will continue to cost you, the taxpayer, a fortune while the thieves smile on their way to the bank and the worthless politicians without a conscience will keep doing their thing. Cronyism government which is alive and well across America, is truly taking a toll on its citizens.

  14. One thing about it these school/city problems probably will be small potatoes to what you will facing in the future but if you don’t have some accountability in place, you are going to be sunk. Skippy Kalb with BNSF told us in Dec. 2006 the intermodal being built in this area will be one of the largest in the WORLD. Pollution is a killer. This past week I contacted the Gardner City Council to let them know about city trucks on my cul-de-sac there to fix another water main break on my street the first part of April 2011. My one block complex was built in 2000 and there has been one water break after another for the past 8 years I have lived here which makes me wonder whether the city provided the proper inspection of those water lines before they were deeded over to the city. One of the city trucks which was there on April 8 idled for 85 minutes straight and the only time a city employee was in the truck was when it was moved after 65 minutes and then went on to idle for 20 more minutes and I could never see where that truck was used for any purpose whatsoever during all of that time. Then the truck left the area and returned about 1:00 P.M. to idle some more but I gave up on timing that instance. We pass an ordinance in 2008 to preclude this type of idling and limit idling to 10 minutes and yet our city and its employees continue to have no concerns with doing so and the ordinance does not address the issue with city trucks doing so. This type of waste (high cost of fuel) and pollution doesn’t cut it for me and I will try to hold some entity accountable to put a stop to this type of management.

    The following article tells you what you will be facing in the future and it won’t be pretty. Citizens better start doing their jobs is all I have to say.

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

    By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times

    April 27, 2011
    Smog and soot levels have dropped significantly in Southern California over the last decade, but the Los Angeles region still has the highest levels of ozone nationwide, violating federal health standards an average of 137 days a year.

    The city ranks second in the country, behind Bakersfield, for the highest year-round levels of toxic particles or soot, and fourth in the nation for the number of short-term spikes in soot pollution.

    The rankings, part of the annual “State of the Air” report by the American Lung Assn., are based on federal and state data, which show that more than 90% of Californians live in counties with unhealthful air.

    Unlike parts of the East and Midwest, where coal-fired power plants are a primary source of toxic pollution, Southern California’s chemical stew is the product of tailpipe emissions from cars and diesel pollution from trucks, trains and ships linked to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Oil refineries, manufacturing plants and residential wood burning also are significant contributors.

    “There has been tremendous progress in California,” said Jane Warner, president and chief executive of the association’s California branch. But the level of air pollution in the state remains “a critical public health issue,” she added. “It is not just a nuisance that burns your eyes or stings your throat.”

    Air pollution aggravates asthma, heart and lung disease and diabetes and can have a severe effect on children, stunting lung growth. Diesel emissions have been linked to cancer. According to the state Air Resources Board, 9,200 Californians die prematurely each year because of dirty air.

    Over the last decade, the average number of high-ozone days has dropped 28% in the South Coast basin, which includes Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. In the Central Valley, Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento also experienced their lowest ozone levels since the association’s first report was published in 2000.

    Nationally, 15 of the 25 most ozone-polluted metropolitan areas showed their lowest levels in a decade, and particle pollution dropped in 25 of the 27 most sooty cities.

    Lung association officials acknowledged that some of the drop registered in this year’s report, which averages results from 2007 through 2009, may be the result of the economic downturn. Southern California ports experienced a steep drop in tonnage in 2007 and 2008.

    But Janice Nolen, the association’s assistant vice president for national policy, noted that new emission-control equipment has been installed at power plants and new engine standards have been approved for diesel trucks, along with a program to replace the dirtiest diesel trucks with newer models. “With those changes, we expect much of the reductions in emissions are permanent,” Nolen said.

    Even with the recession, some areas grew more polluted. Bakersfield and Hanford each had worse average year-round soot levels in 2007-09 than in the previous three-year period. Truck and farm equipment emissions, along with winter wood-burning, were major factors, but severe wildfires, which blanketed the state with smoke from burning trees, also played a part.

    If Southern California is ever to have consistently clean air, “we need to take dramatic new steps,” said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, the association’s senior policy director in California. “At this point, anything that’s easy has already been done…. We need to transition away from petroleum fuel to plug-in electric vehicles and redesign cities around public transit, biking and walking.”

    Nationally, the lung association said more than 154 million people — over half the population — live in areas with dirty air.

    The report comes as Republicans in Congress are seeking sharp cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency budget; a rollback of proposed limits on mercury, arsenic and other toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants; and an easing of proposed rules to toughen ozone and soot standards.

    “These are perilous times,” said Charles D. Connor, president and chief executive of the association. “Despite tremendous gains, the Clean Air Act is under attack from the polluters lobby.”

    Under the George W. Bush administration, the EPA ignored its science advisors, setting health standards for ozone and particulates that were successfully challenged in court. The agency is expected to issue stricter standards this year that will throw even more cities and counties out of compliance, and increase pressure for further pollution controls.

  15. Jared Taylor says:

    @ Charlie, you are right about the bond issue and the money allocation. Philiosphically I don’t think a city our size should be in the assets business. There are private companies that can manage utilities, with more resources, more efficiently. It is about utilization. Lenexa water rates are half of ours and according to their website it ranks extremely high in citiizen satisfaction.

    I disagree with Ryan. I understand KCPL rates are higher but the benefit cost doesn’t equal in my mind the rate difference. While run well, our electric rates aren’t dramatically less and accordingly I don’t think we see the benefit. The electric utility has record profit but we aren’t seeing a decrease in cost and your darn right we shouldn’t be seeing a rate increase with the margins it reports.

    We should sell now and let more efficient entities manage these for us. We should take the money and invest in infrastructure that will bring in business that will pay taxes.

  16. Well, Jared makes it clear he will take care of the special interest thieves since he thinks they will help the citizens…………..never ever will the citizens be well protected by his theory in my opinion and why I certainly didn’t want him on the Council – just a younger Drovetta/Lehman politician who will sell the people down the river faster than lightning. If you could get that Electric Board truly independent from the city of Gardner and have them working for the citizens and have decent people in office and employed by and volunteering for the city of Gardner, the citizens would be well served in the long run but the people are going to have to do their jobs and they haven’t been doing it as evidenced by the 10 to 12% voter turnout on the last election. The people aren’t educated and informed on issues and they aren’t voting and they aren’t holding people accountable – perfect storm for poor government and the people bring it on themselves. You drink the kool-aid that people such as Drovetta and Taylor are serving and you will continue to struggle and suffer big time and in so many ways.

  17. All need to remember that money and greed are the mother’s milk of politics.

  18. This article started out talking about the huge costs citizens will be facing for education needs. I hope all remember the big boys who Drovetta and Taylor love to take care of are never concerned with paying taxes for educational needs. Especially the ones who will be coming here with their sweatshops which require unskilled labor for a big part of their operations. You keep giving those jaybirds the sweet deals and you will continue to carry the heaviest load for educational needs for your children and paying for all of their infrastructure needs and wants. Talk about being used and abused – there is no better case of it than what the big boys and the worthless politicians will put on your plate if you will allow them to do so.

  19. @jared-I am disappointed in your narrow thinking and your complete reversal in your platform. maybe you would have made a good politician after all. while i live in gardner, kansas city power and light gives me my electricity. my rates increased 50% in january and I am looking at another increase soon because of the lacyne power plant. i can’t believe the citizen of gardner would want to pay substanially more. as for service, when i call power and light i always have to leave a message. The outages ive experienced are far longer than my neighbors up the street who have gardner electric. so i believe lower cost and better service are reasons to keep gardner electric and not sell it off and have not say in rates or anything else.

  20. Rep. Charlotte O’Hara recently stated the following in a newsletter:

    “Meanwhile the schools have $750 million of unencumbered cash in their reserve funds while the state reserves estimated in the House version of the appropriations bill is $78 million (which is now reduced an additional $10.1 million due to ANOTHER increase in estimates of Human Resources caseloads). Schools are setting on more that 10 times the amount of estimated reserves for the entire Kansas State Budget!”

    So my question to USD 231 School Dist. is do we have reserves? If so, what is the total amount? Why are the reserves kept and for what purpose? Are they in an interest bearing account? I am sure other citizens could think of more questions that need to be asked.

    This school district, in my opinion, has been very little held accountable or truly been transparent with their school families. In my opinion, Gilhaus and the School Board owe the people MORE and more protection such as on that Kimberly-Clark tax incentive where we lost millions of dollars of school tax dollars because evidently they didn’t do a thing to object to that tax incentive and they lied to me in the process. They may not have the power to nix a tax incentive as they do with a TIF but they owe the people MORE – instead of suing the people for more money using taxpayer money, they need to be suing some of these government entities and worthless politicians who are taking much needed tax revenue from the people and giving it to big biz, developers and other special interests. Those jobs being created are bringing no financial security to the citizens or community in my opinion. They could also be asking questions about those 38 companies in New Century, as I have been doing, who pay little, if any, taxes for the needs of the community and this could be going on for 40 years. Then you have the developers, investors, builders, etc. who almost eliminate their tax liability where they claim their vacant land should be apprased as farm land when it is not – I have a seen a tax bill of around $550 for vacant land reduced down to 43 cents by this type of fraud. Then you have your politicians putting you on the hook for the Walmart TIF, most of which was to pay for Walmart development costs – they should be paying their own development costs. Just like Paul Licausi should be getting his financing and putting in his own utilities on property he owns rather than looking to the citizens to provide him with that and putting us at risk of whether he will pay us back and while he is getting by with paying only about $8 a year on some of that property – probably doesn’t pay more than $50 on the whole benefit district for a year in taxes but he sure has politicians who will take care of him instead of the citizens. All of these deals, and more that I haven’t mentioned, are costing the citizens MILLIONS AND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of lost tax revenue, especially lost school tax dollars.

    Again, the people better start doing their jobs or all of this wheeling and dealing will continue while the citizens have to pay for it all. Privatizing gains and socializing costs and losses.

  21. Charlie K says:

    @ Jared Taylor

    Well personally I don’t want to hear philosophical arguments for doing something. I would certainly listen to a logical argument for doing this, but I don’t want my government run on philosophy. I want it run on sound financial decisions, long-term thinking, and logic.

    I don’t understand how you can say ‘yeah our electric rates are less but there is no benefit’. I’ve seen all the KCPL rate increases and I really don’t want that for myself. I agree our water is being managed poorly and our rates are too high. But why spend money to look for a solution when we seem to have one in the form of the utility board?

    I’m sorry Jared, but I just don’t see any logic in your argument.

  22. Jared Taylor says:

    I’m confused on any where that I have proposed being “ok” with higher utility costs. My platform is and always has been for lower taxes and lower costs. In my opinion we have a dilemma, how to pay for two new schools we can’t afford. So how do we pay for the infrastructure needed to support the USD? My suggestion was along the lines of what the Mayor was requesting, why not put out to sell our utilities? (I believe to be more correct he was calling for the management of our assets)

    If we sell our water and wastewater we will have a provider with more resources and more know how. I only think this would do two things, 1. it could lower all our water bills. 2. It could raise sufficient capital to pay for the infrastructure needed for the school. If it could do so it may provide incentive enough to go ahead with the sell. It would prevent us from going into further debt. Logically, that makes sense to me. Municipalities in this county do just this.

    The electric utility arguments are the same except that currently the Electric runs soundly. My opinion is that if the city could raise sufficient capital from an electric sale, much like what was proposed 5 years or so ago, why wouldn’t we want to do it? KCPL rates are a couple of dollars higher but in my opinion the cost/benefit of having capital to pay for infrastructure is greater than having our own electric utility. If the city were using the electric utility to drastically lower our rates, or if they were using it to lure business (as I proposed in my campaign) perhaps the cost/benefit wouldn’t be so great but in my opinion we are not seeing the benefits.

    This may not be a good idea, but it is an idea. It needs to be vetted. I don’t want to be saddled with $100 more in taxes. I don’t want to pay twice as much in bills as other municipalities in the county. These are only ideas and they certainly don’t go against anything I campaigned on do they present any philosophical betrayal.

  23. Jared Taylor says:

    @Judith, you just read my name and never read a word of what I was saying. This is why no one listens to you. If you read what I say we are not really disagreeing. (makes me think that maybe I’m on the wrong side :) )

  24. Charlie K says:

    @ Jared Taylor

    Well I don’t think you and I are going to agree on this and that’s ok… I just think that is a very short sighted strategy you have there. Sure, we can sell off a piece of the city because we need money right now just like we just gave away the fire department. But we will always need money for something so how much are we going to sell to get it? There are always roads and infrastructure that needs to be built so what happens when we are out of things to sell?

    I don’t want higher taxes either but I don’t see a difference between $100 in taxes and $100 (or more) in increased electric bills. It’s still money from my pocket and all you are doing is switching who you are paying it to.

  25. Jared Taylor: Let me make it extremely clear you and I are not of the same cut and never will be. In my opinion, you are a politician thru and thru – you don’t even think before you open your mouth or do any needed research. Same ole crud I have been fighting for years now and I sure don’t want more of the big sell propaganda while the people are sold another bill fo goods that is not good for them.

    Amanda might buy into your bull hockey but I will never trust you – EVER!!!!

    Again, if the school district needs a street and sewer then they need to look to all USD 231 Dist. families to pay for them and not Gardner residents thru city funds. But I will tell you right now once again, I have had it with all of the conniving, manipulation, half truths, no transparency, lies, etc., etc. from both the school district and the city of Gardner.

    The loss of moral values of honesty, integrity, ethics, character, etc. are still the number one proximate cause of most of our problems. If you would get some honest people in there to run that electric company and keep city politics out of there, then there is a very good possibility that the citizens could benefit from lower electric rates. But if you aren’t going to get the honest people involved and take politics out of the running of that electric company, then you better just sell the thing and use ALL of the proceeds to lower the city’s debt but more than likely the citizens will be paying higher electric rates as a result and I doubt if the worthless politicians would use the proceeds of the sale wisely – they would use the funds to enable and support the takers and screw the citizens in the process as they have done time and time again in my opinion. Until you get some decency in the running of your city at all levels, the citizens will be the losers.

  26. The following article from the LA Times today. The legislators are trying to dissolve the corrupt company town of Vernon, Ca. It reminds of what Edgerton or Edgerton could come to if the big boys and the corrupt politicians continue to have their way. Another big mess to clean up – money and greed are the mother’s milk of politics – Vernon is another example of what money and greed and corrupt politics can bring about. I like how those Republican legislators who voted NO for the bill said they were worried about the loss of jobs – yeah, right – they are more worried about taking care of their corrupt cronies is more like it.

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

    Bill to dissolve Vernon overwhelmingly approved by state Assembly

    The state Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would dissolve the city of Vernon.

    The bill, which is the first known attempt by legislature to disincorporate a charter city, was passed on a vote of 60 to 7.

    The legislation was authored by Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), who described a “pattern of unprecedented corruption” in Vernon, a city of fewer than 100 residents. He vowed that his bill would create a more open government in the 5.2-square-mile industrial enclave and protect the 1,800 businesses located there.

    “Members, we have an absolute obligation to make sure that we have transparent and accountable government at every level in the state of California,” he said.

    Thursday’s debate also marked the first opposition to the bill from other legislators. Those urging a “no” vote included Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) and Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield). The three said they feared Perez’s bill would cause a loss in jobs.

    “We cannot afford to continue an assault on private business,” Grove said, adding that she wanted Perez to consider other methods of addressing problems in Vernon’s government.

    In response, Perez again promised to add amendments to the bill to preserve the city’s utility rates and zoning. Vernon operates a municipal power business and has throughout its history accommodated heavy industry and manufacturing. A coalition of local business and labor groups have also opposed the bill, saying it would damage Vernon’s unique business climate.

    But Perez also called the jobs argument a “scare-tactic” being used by the city and its team of lawyers and lobbyists in its attempts to derail the bill. His supporters echoed that claim.

    “This bill is about attacking political corruption, and I think we all should be standing on that side,” said Jose Solorio (D-Anaheim). “Who’s to say that if we change the political environment, businesses won’t do better?”

    Other representatives argued that Vernon’s municipal government should be eliminated because the city lacks an independent electorate. Most of its voters live in city-owned housing, they said, which prevents them from challenging city officials.

    “We have the opportunity to make a statement to the people of California that corruption will not be tolerated,” said Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita), the bill’s principal co-author.

    The bill now moves to the state senate. It could be voted into law as early as September.

  27. Why do old people complain a lot?

    Answer
    As people age, the things they were exposed to as children, which formed their most basic personality traits along with genetically influenced tendencies become magnified. A naturally generous individual will spend more time helping others or someone who was basically negative but has worked to maintain a positive attitude in adulthood will revert back to that negativity. Someone raised in an undereducated household with racially prejudiced tendencies who later grew into an educated and tolerant adult may become unpredictably racist. A generally sweet woman or man with a tendency toward mood swings will become more temperamental. A person who gives you extra information when telling a story will begin to run on forever as they get older. Someone with a mean streak will often become down right nasty with age. Complaining a lot is just something people notice more readily in the elderly.

  28. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I read a couple of interesting stories today about a high school junior in Amity Township, about 55 miles northwest of Philadelphia, who became frustrated by what he perceived as incompetence on the Daniel Boone Area School District school board. He is now running for election to become a member of that school board

    After becoming concerned about the condition of local schools, 17-year old Connor Kurtz began attending school board meetings in August 2010 to see how members manage the district and how their decisions affect students and taxpayers. He told Philadelphia TV reporters that he realized the board “didn’t know what they’re doing and they don’t have a plan. It boggles my mind that you can be on the school board without a plan.”

    Kurtz said he witnessed members make unwise financial and academic decisions, such as raising taxes and cutting educational programs. He said the district is in a financial mess and test scores are not that great.

    After deciding that just sitting in the audience was not benefiting his school district, Kurtz concluded that becoming a candidate for school board member was the best way to put forward the positive changes needed to help the district.

    Although he is still a student, attending school gives Kurtz an advantage over his opponents, he said, because he sees first-hand what is occurring inside the classrooms and with curriculum. He also says he understands what can be “cut and streamlined” to return the district to a “state of financial sanity.” Kurtz believes his age is an advantage, reasoning he is the end user of the services that the district provides and that all school board decisions personally affect him in the classroom.

    Kurtz is a self-described fiscal conservative whose platform includes belt-tightening. He believes taxes in the district are too high, due in part to school system overspending, particularly on school facilities and teacher salaries.

    “We’re not in a good economic climate,” he said. “Education is the priority.” Saving taxpayers money is one of the main pledges of Kurtz’s campaign.

    Since starting his campaign, Kurtz has talked to homeowners who are on the verge of losing their homes because school taxes keep going up, making it impossible for residents to afford their yearly property bills.

    People are close to losing their houses, Kurtz said, and many young families are so discouraged by school district taxes, they are choosing to leave the district and find homes elsewhere.

    Kurtz says instead of just raising property taxes to generate revenue, the school board needs to explore more creative revenue sources, such as prompting municipal officials to become more business friendly and encourage new companies to open inside the township.

    The high school junior will not be able to vote for himself in the May primary because he is only 17. He turns 18 in September and can legally run and vote in the November election. He faces three other candidates. If he wins, he will attend a local college so he can serve his full four-year term.

    His mother is concerned about how his teachers might handle having a school board member in their classroom.

  29. Perplexed says:

    How can we afford new infrastructure for a school when we barely fund our infrastructure needs now. Someone was complaining about the water department being mismanaged. Please compare their budget to that of the parks department for the last 10 years. Maybe you’ll see part of the problem is in the city administration’s priorities (or lack thereof). As far as new schools and a bond issue; let’s cut administration both in size and salary. The school board needs to step up and be accountable, and the state needs to keep just throwing more money at an inefficiently run organization. I don’t have more money to pay for a monument to Gilhaus’ ego.

  30. Gilhaus, the school board and the city of Gardner will not step up and be held accountable – the people will have to demand that they be held accountable for their words, actions, inaction and voting records. And presently the people are not doing their jobs and haven’t for years so consequently things aren’t going very well. If you want a job done, do it yourself – don’t think someone else is going to do it for you. I believe that whole School Board was just recently re-elected – that is no way to hold them accountable. And ole Gilhaus just got his contract renewed for four years by the School Board. I would say you better be communicating loud and clear to your Gardner City Council you do NOT want them to vote for the city to pay for that street and sewer and you better vote against that school bond come January – if you do otherwise you are supporting and enabling the same ole status quo governments that are not working for you. That is my opinion.

  31. Charlie K says:

    @ Perplexed

    That is true as well. I commented on another article discussing the city budget about how the water is asking 2 million in improvements and parks is asking for 5 million. Seems to me we don’t have our priorities in line and I would think parks would be the first branch of the government getting cut in these tough economic times, but apparently not.

    If we want to sell something off how about we sell of our parks? I’d imagine Celebration Park is a sizable chunk of our debt.

  32. Fotovitch supporter says:

    Thank goodness we have one person willing to ask the dictator questions! The school board obviously shares one mind and 7-0 votes everything he proposes no matter how ludicrous. $225,000+ salary for what??? Making directors now executive directors and giving them raises in the middle of a contract year? Why is nobody asking about this? Why do we now have a “Chief technology” administrator added in the last few weeks? Why are we paying the new Diener, while still paying for Mr. Miller’s salary? 2 salary’s for one position through August- Doesn’t sound like our Board of Education nor our supt. realize we are in tough fiscal times and are having cuts. When are these questions going to be answered by Mr. Gilhouse?? He is a great avoider of the real issues-should be a politician as he certainly does not know how to run a district. Just keeps hiring ex Desoto cronies. Never saw the PRMS principal job posted, but guess where the new principal is from? Glad I don’t have children in this district as the way it’s being allowed to be run by a spineless BOE and ruthless, selfish, self-serving supt. is sickening

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