November 26, 2014

Gardner council hears citizens’ budget concerns

Danedri Thompson

submissions@gardnernews.com

Although she didn’t attend the meeting, Theresa Hall, Gardner quickly learned about a June 20 council meeting that dissolved into an argument.

“Good news travels fast in Gardner,” she told council members during an open comment segment of the July 5 council meeting. “But Gardner is still a small town and bad news travels even faster.”

A discussion about employee health benefits and an employee taking offense to the debate lead to the heated exchange. During the argument, Mayor Dave Drovetta loudly announced, “That’s bull—.” Hall said healthcare is not a sacred cow.

“You need to act like adults,” she told council. “…That meeting should not have devolved. This is not your petty little kingdom. You get the privilege to govern this town, and I don’t appreciate the nonsense that’s been going on.”

She also said she’s appalled that taxpayer money is being used for extravagant health plans for city employees. She and her husband pay 100 percent of the cost of their own health plans, she explained.

“When I see you guys increased what you’re paying for employees’ healthcare last year, that makes me furious,” she said.

Hall was one of a handful of residents with a variety of concerns who addressed council members at the July 5 meeting. Don Cooper, Gardner, told council that code enforcement in his neighborhood is a problem.

“It’s a problem because builders went bankrupt and foreclosed,” he said. Many of the foreclosed homes in his neighborhood have since been purchased, “but others are going to wreck and ruin.”

One duplex near his home on south Poplar Street has windows that don’t fit correctly.

The sidings coming off and the grass, he said, “is as high as an elephant’s eye.”

Cooper suggested that city officials examine the property codes in place and find a way to get the banks that own properties in distress to maintain them.

Resident Clem Egger offered a variety of suggestions to the council. First, he said it’s very important that the city council agenda reflect the will of council members.

“There should be ways to put things on the agenda by consent. My impression is that the mayor has a fixed agenda,” he said.

He noted that the police department is requesting to add officers next year.

“If it was me, I’d require the police captain to submit one or two alternate plans,” he said.

Other plans to maximize coverage might include re-working the police schedule.

“We are only a small town, so we don’t need three or four detectives,” he said. Egger is a retired civil engineer and has done work for the city of Paola.

He suggested that city officials also should consider appointing an advisory committee of retired engineers and other professionals in some instances.

“You’re paying a lot for consultants,” he said. “A lot of that can be done by the city.”

Dan Popp, resident and member of the Gardner Planning Commission, addressed the council about the budget. The city’s planning department has requested $75,000 in the 2012 budget to hire a consultant to assist the city in a comprehensive plan update.

The existing plan hasn’t been updated since 1996, he said. In it, the city designated land for Celebration Park, he said as an example of one way the existing plan has been used. It doesn’t take into consideration the intermodal.

“If we don’t plan for the future, we’re flying blind,” he said. “…I know it’s a significant outlay, but you have to think outside this budget.”

Comments

  1. Most, most happy to see citizens stepping forward to do what is needed. Get informed and educated on all issues with respect to your city and you will know and see many, many things that need to be changed and/or improved. These citizens written about in this article are making thoughtful comments and suggestions and I thank them for it. But so much needs to be done – we have not even chipped at the tip of the iceburg.

    I hope we could work for excellence rather than just meeting the requirements and/or the minimum expected. Many need to be held accountable and the citizens really need to decide whether they want their government working for the thieves or for the citizens and the whole community.

  2. How much more should the thieves be paying the people for their deceptive practices???? Much, much more I would say. Then we have those who do not want oversight or regulation………..you know who they are protecting…….

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

    JPMorgan settlement will send $500,000 to Kansas, Missouri
    Kansas City Business Journal
    Date: Thursday, July 7, 2011, 1:59pm CDT – Last Modified: Thursday, July 7, 2011, 1:59pm CDT
    Related:Banking & Financial Services, Public sector
    Kansas and Missouri are expected to recover $500,000 after a national $92 million settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPMorgan Chase & Co.

    Latest from The Business Journals

    Report: Wells Fargo to pay 5M in loans lawsuit
    JPMorgan Chase to pay M in bond settlement

    More than $100,000 will be returned to Kansas municipalities and nonprofits, and Missouri will have the opportunity to receive $400,000 from the settlement, according to Thursday releases.

    Eligible entities will be notified by the settlement administrators in the coming months.

    This settlement is part of a continuing investigation of financial institutions participating in fraudulent practices.

    JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) will pay $228 million to states and government regulators in a settlement after allegations that the financial services company rigged 93 transactions involving municipal bond auctions in 31 states, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC states that JPMorgan will pay $51.2 million to municipalities and $177 million to federal and state authorities.

    “Another positive result of the settlement is the message we send to financial institutions — if you use anticompetitive and fraudulent tactics in doing business with consumers, you will be found out, you will be investigated, and you will face the full force of the law,” Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a release.

    In April 2008, states began looking into allegations that financial institutions were engaging in schemes in the municipal bond derivatives market such as bid-rigging and submission of non-competitive courtesy bids, among others. Two other financial institutions ­— Bank of America Corp. Bank of America Corp.

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