October 25, 2014

Gardner council conducts public hearing on 2011 budget

Corbin H. Crable
chcrable@gardnernews.com
No one in the audience at the Aug. 2 Gardner City Council meeting spoke out either for or against the city’s proposed 2011 budget during a public hearing.
The hearing, which is mandated by state law, began and ended with silence after City Administrator Stewart Fairburn briefly explained the highlights of the city’s budget for next year. Fairburn noted that city staff will not receive pay increases for the third year in a row, and that funding for the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp. was slashed from $50,000 to $25,000. He added, however, that the city of Edgerton has agreed to fund the remaining $25,000 that Gardner cut.
Fairburn said the city has seen 20 percent of its full-time employees cut in the past three years, a topic referenced by Gardner resident and former city council member Bob Page before the public hearing began.
“I’m glad to see you let the people go that you did. They weren’t doing anything,” Page told council members, referring to the reduction in force that eliminated six positions in the Community Development Department in early May. “You should have let the (Community Development) people go a year before you did.”
Page addressed the governing body during the public comment period and argued against consolidation of Gardner Public Safety and Fire District No. 1.
Fairburn also told council members that the proposed budget for 2011 includes possibilities for either a 6.5 or 4.5 mill increase. A mill increase of 6.5 would mean single-family households in Gardner would pay the city an additional $12 per month, while a 4.5 mill increase would translate into an added $8 per home, per month.
Other proposed rate increases include a 5-percent water increase and an 8-percent wastewater rate hike. Altogether, that would cost Gardner residents an additional $7 per month.
Local residents still have an opportunity to sound off on the 2011 budget when the council meets for a work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9. The council is then expected to vote on the budget on Aug. 16; the city must submit the budget to the state by Aug. 25.

Comments

  1. Well, I have already sounded off numerous times with respect to the 2011 budget and all of their spending they have done in the past to create the nearly $100 MILLION debt for the citizens and of course, we have the cronyism government that pays the special interests extremely well resulting in transfer of the tax burden to the average citizen.

    I sent the Council the following e-mail to let them know what I thought of their back room wheeling and dealing again on the merger with Jo. Co. Fire Dist. #1. These jaybirds no more work for the citizens of Gardner, Ks. than a man in the moon.

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

    Well, I have done some work today on the issue of combining the Gardner fire department with the Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1 and as usual I am not liking what I am finding. More back room deal making it appears.

    In reviewing the minutes of the Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1 meetings for 2010 and 2009, I find Fairburn (with full knowledge of Drovetta I am sure) has been in negotiations with that district for a merger with the city of Gardner for months and months and months. Have the citizens of Gardner been advised of this during this period of time??? No. We were recently brought aware of this merger since it was supposed to save the taxpayers money which to me is about as far from the truth as I can see at this time.

    In reading those minutes, I find that Jo. Co. Fire Dist. 1 has had a large increase in their work comp costs and a 33% increase with Humana for health care costs for their employees. Would Gardner be affected by these increased costs if the merger was to be completed?

    I also find that if the intermodal and/or warehouses are more than 5 miles from a responding fire station their fire protection class is reduced to 9/10 which is basically no fire protection and much higher insurance costs – that is IF they can find an insurance company to write the risk. As a retired senior property and casualty underwriter and risk manager, I am very familiar with risk evaluation and of course, fire protection is one of the most important factors.

    I believe BNSF and the Allen Group have to have excellent fire protection services for their project and I will again say the city of Gardner built the fire station on 183rd St. and purchased the over $1 Million fire truck for those entities and stuck the cost of close to $3 Million for both on the 18,000 (about 16,000 people at the time) people of Gardner, Ks. and now they want the 18,000 people of Gardner to pick up additional costs now plus give them the fire protection they need by this merger??? Saving the taxpayers money is about the last reason for this merger in my opinion. 90% or higher of the fire calls for Elwood, Ill. is for the BNSF intermodal at that location and I believe the costs for fire protection for the Edgerton intermodal will be high and if you did research on this you would know that.

    I have talked to the Insurance Services Office out of Chicago, Ill. today and that office is the entity that sets the protection class code after a careful review of a community’s fire district including the availability of water, the communication system involved and the fire department facilities and equipment. In order to determine what the protection class code would be after this merger, a total NEW review would have to occur of the communities and the fire departments involved before it could be determined what the new fire protection class would be. My question, of course, has the city of Gardner and Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1 asked for this new review by ISO?

    Edgerton has no fire department to speak of to offer BNSF and the Allen Group – it would have to come from Jo. Co. Fire Dist No. 1. Can Edgerton afford to set up their own fire department at this time? No – since they too are giving the thieves 75% of the tax revenues.

    The citizens found out what a lie the motto of “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Tax Em” was when Drovetta was more than willing to give the thieves 85% of our tax revenue. Well, it appears to me another propaganda push is on to get the 18,000 people of Gardner, Ks. to once gain enable the thieves with this fire department merger and I don’t appreciate it. And I don’t appreciate how the matter has been handled – it reminds me much too much of how Brownlee, Drovetta, Lehman, Fairburn, etc. were front men at the Kansas Legislature year after year to get BNSF and the Allen Group what they have wanted and needed with the taxpayers paying the tab.

    I also did more calling on this issue today and the word on the street, unknown to me until I made some calls, is that hey, Gardner and Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1 is merging – done deal – old news.

    Done deal with the citizens having to pick up the tab I am sure to take care of the special interests once again. That is my opinion.

    I may have to suffer a wrong but I do not have to be part of a wrong. I would say all of you should ascertain whether you will be part of another wrong or perhaps you already are part of a wrong and I have not known about it. It will all come out in the wash and you should hope there won’t be soap all over your faces.

  2. Chris Morrow says:

    I wonder if the City Council is still willing to consider an idea not brought to them by staff? People are being forced to sacrifice all across the country, here’s a piece from Tuesdays NY Times detailing just such situations.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/business/economy/04paycuts.html?_r=2&hp

    There has to be a better way than compulsory tax increases, right?

  3. Read your article, Chris. Pay cuts are one more affect of going to a global economy plus the cronyism government that is practiced at every level, city, county, state and federal. When the American citizen is competing against Chinese workers who work for 20 cents an hour, then it is not good for our citizens, especially the middle class. Our country is in a mess and due to many proximate causes – it would be good if citizens were fully aware of the proximate causes. I just know in my backyard I want some representatives and not worthless politicians who don’t work for me but instead bankroll the thieves every chance they get and are willing to play the blackmail game with them to the huge detriment of our citizens.

  4. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    The NY Times article states employers “sometimes warn that they will close or move jobs to lower-cost locales unless workers agree to a pay cut.”

    Surely, no one is suggesting we shutter City Hall and contract employees on the subcontinent of India for our municipal services.

  5. Well, Mr. Kellogg, there are times when I think our city administration and mayor work in India considering how they sure don’t listen to their people here in Gardner, Ks. and certainly don’t follow the Open Meetings Act here in Kansas – the people are advised of decisions after deals have been completed and the vote of the council in an open meeting is an afterthought. Definitely the wrong people were recalled in recent months – that is for sure.

  6. Was watching the County Commissioner Meetings of yesterday. Jo. Co. Fire District No. 1 was to report on their 2011 budget and whether their mill levy will be affected.

    They indicated their spending will increase 17%, however, that increase will be from grants received either from the state or federal levels but then they go on to say they will be increasing their mill levy for the people. Now does that make sense to you???????? They got to be spending more than they are taking in for them to be increasing the mill levy just like the city of Gardner is planning on doing.

    Just love the political drivel.

  7. More Judith Rogers drivel. You love to hear yourself speak or type.

  8. Judith – how many times have you contacted the attorney general of kansas to complain about the open meetings act not being followed in gardner. And how many times have they explained the act to you — the fact is that the city has 3 days to respond to you if you ask for a document. They don’t have to give it to you in 3 day; just respond. And yes, they can charge you for the time and materials they have to use to get you that information. So just stop it, please. If there was an issue, the attorney general would be all over the city.

  9. Well, the City Hall gang have come out of the woodwork again. I know the laws of the Open Meetings Act and the Open Records Act real well and so do the bureaucrats – the problem is they don’t follow the law but that is nothing new and I am sure it will go on as long as you have worthless politicians who allow them to get by with it.

    What is your real name, Cindy? Too bad you are too much of a coward to use it but we just consider the source and know how your kind works – very familiar with the tactics. You always come on here with your snide time – sure hope you get your smiles everytime you post your intelligent notations – I’ll look for your expertise on issues of importance in the future.

  10. Cindy, I also am amazed at your words with respect to the Open Meetings Act which has nothing to do with the 3 day response time. The three day response time has to do with the OPEN RECORDS ACT – how many times have they explained that to you – evidently not enough since you still don’t have it straight. Come one Cindy, run your mouth some more for me and tell me how NOT smart you are ……..you just don’t like someone having an opinion different from yours or someone who doesn’t want to take care of losers like yourself……………

  11. Very mature, Judith. And for your info, my name is Cindy; just like your name is Judith. I do not work for the city but have used their service several times without incident. Sorry I got confused; I used the open records service. Glad you pointed it out, but if they are breaking the law like you say, where’s the consequences? You can have different opinions all day, but you really don’t have to be rude every time you speak.

  12. You are the one who started the rudeness, “Cindy”……….you might want to think about that a little while…………there are no consequences for the City Hall Gang when the people don’t hold them acountable and when those involved in enforcement of the laws are just more politicians………you get the government you deserve and the one you support……….

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