Gardner voters will have two choices on the ballot for Gardner mayor in the upcoming municipal elections on April 2.
Their choices will include incumbant Mayor Dave Drovetta and City Council Vice President Chris Morrow.
Recently, The Gardner News sent questionnaires to the duo. Their responses follow.
Why are you running for mayor?
Simply because I love the community that our family has called home since coming to Kansas in the summer of 1987. The passion I have for Gardner has sustained me through 18 years of service to our town. I have served through the good times and the challenging times, always focused on ensuring that Gardner remains the best place to live and raise a family in Johnson County. My dedication, leadership, and experience are the qualities needed in a mayor. I pledge to continue working hard and passionately standing up for Gardner.
I want to ensure that Gardner remains a great place to live and raise a family. This can be accomplished by maintaining the assets and amenities we already have and by targeting the types of growth residents want. Citizens are our greatest asset, and we need to keep them informed, be accessible to them and collaborate with them. We need to focus, together, on initiatives that will bring growth and good corporate partners to town that will benefit all our citizens. I want Gardner to continue to thrive, for the benefit of all.
What are the three most important issues facing Gardner in the next four years?
1) Growth and its impact to our infrastructure and quality of life. Management of growth ties directly to our citizens’ number one concern of traffic flow.
2) Prioritizing and implementing needed capital improvements that were delayed due to the recession, which include addressing our citizens’ number one priority of traffic flow.
3) Attracting commercial growth to help balance our tax base and lessen the impact on residential properties.
1) Providing our citizens a balanced budget that includes a reasonable and stable city property tax rate.
2) Providing quality electric, water, and wastewater service to Gardner at an affordable cost and do so while properly maintaining our systems.
3) To inform and engage our citizens, while providing them accessibility to our leaders, and allowing their voices to be heard, inside city hall. Gardner’s citizens are our greatest resource, and they need to be treated as such.
How would you address the top issue?
We must update our comprehensive plan; that includes strategies for type of growth, location of new residential and new commercial areas, as well as a defined annexation strategy coupled with an annexation agreement with Edgerton. Another obvious element will be a strategy to capture spin-off commercial growth from the KC Logistics Park. This plan must be tied to a reasonable financial plan for the expansion and maintenance of the necessary infrastructure. We must build on our successful collaboration with other entities for example: USD231 – Celebration Park/Pioneer Ridge, Edgerton – sewer service to the southwest, Johnson County – repaving 159th St.
To address the budget properly we must first understand the wants and needs of our citizens and community stakeholders. This means collaborating with residents on a vision for Gardner to establish clear goals and objectives to guide our process. Next, we must evaluate previous budget performance with actual results, especially the previous fiscal year. Once a framework is established, city staff is challenged to create a budget that meets our needs while being mindful of the bottom line. Finally the staff and governing body, so challenged, can work to finalize a budget using established goals, creativity and discipline.
If you were to raise tax rates or fees, what specific taxes or fees would you raise and why?
Any intentional increase in revenue through taxes or fees must be tied to a specific objective or project. For example, if our citizens wanted road improvements to improve traffic flow. The last mill levy increase was tied directly to debt service and nothing else. The sales tax increase approved by voters could only be used for Celebration Park and the Aquatic Center.
I don’t intend to raise taxes or fees. Any increase proposed will be sent back to the drawing board with a challenge to study more, estimate better and review expenditures. Our 26 percent tax increase in 2011 was unnecessary, and our former city administrator, if he had been challenged, could have presented a budget without an increase. We should have estimated more accurately the previous fiscal year’s finish, we should have requested more accurate revenue figures from county tax officials, and budgeted expenses more precisely. No tax increase proposed will receive my approval without buy in from our citizens and agreement with the stated goal.