February 10, 2016

Council to consider adopting legislative agenda

Danedri Thompson
Annexation, eminent domain and transportation districts are a few of the issues upon which Gardner City Council members may formally stake positions. The group discussed a proposed state legislative agenda during a work session on Monday night.
The five page document outlines 15 issues and the city’s official position on them. If adopted, it will be sent as a letter to legislators.
“These are items the governing body believes are important for your community,” interim-city administrator Mike Press said.
Press said the agenda may urge changes to state statutes or support existing statutes.
“This is really formulating legislation – law – at the state level,” Press explained.
As proposed, the city would oppose legislation that would directly or indirectly limit the city’s powers of annexation, eminent domain and the ability to impose development fees.
For example, assistant city administrator Melissa Mundt told the council, the city of Gardner things the way eminent domain is addressed in state statute is fine.
“We use it when necessary, but it isn’t a matter this community has ever taken lightly,” she said.
She said the formal support for existing eminent domain laws is due to certain legislators and individuals who lobby for stricter eminent domain rules.
“There are literally people who believe you shouldn’t ever be able to (declare eminent domain),” Mundt said.
Some communities go a step further and send advocates to lobby for their positions to Topeka during the legislative session. In the past, Mundt said, Gardner officials have traveled to Topeka to advocate for certain legislation. Primarily those lobbying trips were related to the intermodal project. Last year, no city officials advocated on behalf of the city of Gardner during the legislative session. However, the Kansas League of Municipalities, an organization to which the city belongs, has a presence in Topeka and lobbies on behalf of its members every year.
A legislative agenda by itself is a more passive approach.
“It just depends on what the issues are and how involved or active you want to get in promoting certain things,” Press said.
Council member Larry Fotovich proposed adding two items to the proposed agenda. One would advocate for legislation related to how cities are able to invest its funds, and a second would prohibit taxing land as agriculture if it isn’t in fact used for agriculture.
“We’re losing a lot of money,” Fotovich said. “We all want more revenues.”
Agricultural land is taxed at lower rates than other land uses, but Press said it’s been tried before with little success.
“You can put it on, but you’re not going to get any traction in Topeka,” Mundt said.
City staff will give council members a summary of Fotovich’s proposals before council members vote to formally adopt its legislative agenda. Press said that would allow everyone to understand the issues before deciding whether to include them.
In other business, city council members decided to delay a discussion about water and wastewater funds. The discussion was scheduled at the behest of council members during the Nov. 7 meeting to help council members understand how a public-private partnership (p-3) might affect the utility funds.
After two-plus hours of third quarter updates from department heads, council members opted to delay what they estimate will be a two hour discussion about the utilities.
Mayor Dave Drovetta said the council’s inability to hear staff’s presentation on the topic will not delay an upcoming vote on whether to accept a proposal for a public-private partnership in December.
Council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Nov. 21 at city hall.


  1. Does anyone else find it confusing that land not being used agriculturally would be taxed as “agriculture”? Why would a city need any sort of state support to simply tax land according to it’s actual use?

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    Why cannot the District Attorney get a listing of the properties in Johnson County from the County Appraiser that have farm use and review them? I would be more than happy to give them and have given the Appraiser, the County Commissioners, Sen. Rob Olson, Rep. Charlotte O’Hara and Dist. Attorney Howe properties where I believe fraud is involved with respect to properties receiving farm appraisals and yet there is never a crop or a farm animal grazing on them while the people receive maybe $10 total in property taxes on a parcel of land. I noted recently the 2 acre property that Gardner Bank is getting a farm appraisal on and I certainly fail to see how that property qualifies for a “farm” appraisal. Sen. Olson, Rep. O’Hara and Commissioner Hayden all agreed with me when I spoke to them on this issue that farm use is very questionable and Sen. Olson said he would ask the Attorney General for an investigation and yet what do you get from these worthless politicians???? Absolutely nothing except a tax bill that is higher than it should be because the politcians continue to govern for the special interests and not the average citizen. Hold your nose when you get around or talk to these so-called representatives – they are NOT working for you but sure know how to circle their wagons to continue the status quo cronyism government that is eating every average citizen’s lunch day after day after day. Trickle down economics are a joke and make the citizen more poor as time goes by. I hope those young people continue to Occupy and I will certainly support them in what they are doing because I most certainly know I am one of the 99%.

  3. just wounderin???? says:

    So if there is nothing growing on it or built on it then I suppose no taxes owed on it???

  4. Why don’t they put the legislative agenda before the voters. What if we don’t agree with it? Is it posted somewhere? I don’t want government taking my property.

  5. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:
  6. Judith Rogers says:

    As you probably know, the 2011 tax bills are out. Here is some history as to what the city of Gardner and USD 231 School Dist. are doing – the mill levies always tell you the truth.


    2006 24.080
    2007 24.069
    2008 24.108
    2009 24.606
    2010 31.119
    2011 31.132


    2006 76.547
    2007 76.511
    2008 76.568
    2009 78.539
    2010 81.536
    2011 82.595 State portion of these school mill levies is 20.0 and has remained the same for this time period so all of the increases you see are LOCAL increases.

    These mill levies should tell a citizen these two entities continue to spend and not make cuts or work smarter to keep the mill levies level or to lower them. If anyone thinks that school bond for $71 Million is not going to hit them in the pocket big time, then I believe they are a fool. And keep in mind if that bond issue passes, you will get at least probably a 2 mill levy increase at the city level for infrastructure costs. You will not only have the costs for construction but you will be having to pick up operating costs for these two schools and worst of all to me is that this school bond includes costs for non-educational purposes which I absolutely cannot support during these hard times and high costs. Gilhaus and the School Board want me to pay to get salaries for USD 231 employees and, of course, I see this again as a stonewalling method of keeping the information from the citizens – citizens need to see for several years how salaries have increased and where the increases are occurring – that is my opinion. The people will have the opportunity to make their choice on this school bond in the dead of winter come January – hope they think long and hard on this and use their brain when marking their ballots. I came across the following website recently and it may be of interest to citizens – gardnerschoolbond.info. Do your own research if you are really interested in protecting your interests.

    I see where video taping of Gardner City Council meetings is on the agenda for Monday evening. It will be interesting to see how the City Hall bunch handles that issue.

  7. The information presented is good for understanding the issue. However, I don’t think it is forgone conclusion that these “entities continue to spend and not make cuts or work smarter to keep the mill levies level or to lower them.” Our purpose ought to be to provide a first-class public education not to keep mill levels low. A first class public education is required to compete in the global market and it is a laudatory goal. While it is important not to waste a penny, keeping mill levels low as goal is not motivational unless your only concern is your pocketbook.

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    I assure you MY only concern is not just my pocketbook and that is because I have supported education my whole life and continue to do so. What I do NOT support, however, is how Gilhaus and the School Board operate and how they, too, live in the world of lies, propaganda, manipulation, etc. as so many politiicans and other governments entities operate. I have paid property taxes for over 50 years with never a late payment and paying my taxes in FULL – much unlike the big money boys do, with the help of thier corrupt politicians, who never want to pay their FULL taxes or want to manipulate the tax laws we now have or are working vigoursly to eliminate taxes they should want to pay for excellent education. All I have to do is educate myself on education here in the U.S. and see how far we have slipped in worldwide standings and look at the statistics with how our youth are in true danger of being able to compete in the world economy in the years ahead. Put that bar of excellence in the gutter and allow the wrongdoing to continue and many will suffer the consequences, including yourself.

  9. Wow, Judith... says:

    Maybe you could blame the school district for global warming while you’re at it.

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