April 16, 2014

Mayor hosts town hall meeting on budget

Corbin H. Crable
chcrable@gardnernews.com
Gardner Mayor Dave Drovetta hosted a second town hall meeting on the city’s 2011 budget Saturday morning at City Hall.
Drovetta took questions from local residents and discussed the role of the intermodal facility in residential and commercial growth. He also addressed the reduction in force implemented by the city early last month. That decision resulted in the elimination of six positions within Gardner’s Community Development department.
“This is a stop-gap measure to stop the bleeding,” Drovetta said. “We’re holding our own. What (the RIF) does is, it keeps us treading water. We continue to look for more savings in the 2011 budget.”
Drovetta said the eliminated positions amount to a savings of $500,000 for the city, but it still faces a $500,000 budget shortfall for 2011. The Gardner City Council had originally discussed the possibility of an eight-mill increase to offset the shortfall, but with the reduction in force, that lowers the proposed increase to four mills.
However, Drovetta said the RIF has meant more duties heaped on remaining employees.
“The response is slower in Community Development,” he said. “We’re going to have to rely more on complaints (from citizens) than proactive measures.”
One resident at the meeting said he believes Gardner is still small enough to seek input from residents on cost-saving measures and the issue of layoffs, and that the issues should not only be examined by council members or department managers.
Drovetta and City Administrator Stewart Fairburn said that although they encourage the public to offer input to the city whenever possible, it is not feasible to allow residents to become involved in the decision-making process surrounding reductions in force.
“When we’re talking about specific positions – we can’t open that up for general discussion,” Drovetta noted. “We just can’t do that.”
He added, however, that he realizes the impact a reduction in force can have on all involved.
“It’s not the position, it’s the people – no matter how sterile we try to make it,” he said.
The same resident asked Drovetta  furlough instead of an RIF. Drovetta said the city had taken all measures possible before resorting to cutting positions.
“We’ve done no pay raises … we’ve eliminated overtime,” he said.
The conversation then shifted to the subject of the intermodal facility; the resident pointed out that when work begins on the intermodal and growth eventually occurs, the city will be in the situation of needing to fill the vacant Community Development positions once again.
“The intermodal isn’t our problem,” Drovetta said. “We won’t be put in that.”
The resident noted that the city will still see benefits from commercial development, but Drovetta and Fairburn said they doubt the advantages will be immediately recognizable.
“I’d be surprised if there is significant work done in 2010 (on the intermodal),” Drovetta said.
Fairburn said he agreed.
“It will strengthen our housing market, but it will not create a spike,” he said.
When asked how aggressively the city is encouraging people to move to Gardner, Drovetta said city staff and realtors have the challenge of working to draw people to town in the midst of an economic recession and a sharp decrease in the number of housing permits issued.
“The challenge is the builders,” Drovetta said. “You don’t have builders who have capital, and banks are no longer willing to lend for speculative builds.”
Fairburn added that at the peak of its recent population growth, the city of Gardner issued 450 permits for single-family homes in 2005. That number plunged to only 56 in 2009, the second year of the recession. The city estimates it will issue only 50 permits this year.
The council will again face the decision of balancing the 2011 budget through tax increases or budget cuts when it begins discussions at a June 28 work session.
Budget talks will continue through the summer; the council will approve the 2011 budget and submit it to the state in August.
On the Web:
City of Gardner: www.gardnerkansas.gov

Comments

  1. I wonder if Dictator Drovetta will ever take responsibility for the around $100 indebtedness the city of Gardner has brought on themselves and it was only around $22 Million in 2001 or so. That debt is called for around $11 Million to service it each year. Just like the families who get in debt up to their eyeballs and then wonder why they have financial problems. Revenue is down and even if it wasn’t, these worthless politicians are going to have to realize what the meaning of fiscal responsibility truly means and in my opinion, Dictator Drovetta and his appointed council and many others never will. They might start by stop giving the sweet deals to the fat cats who come to town with their hand out and getting the tax revenue from ALL ENTITIES that the people deserve. The Allen Group was a perfect example (and Drovetta and others were more than willing for the people only to get 15% of the tax revenue they deserved) of these fat cats will move on down the road if they don’t get the sweeet deal that will only benefit THEM – these thieves are only here to line their pockets with the people paying the costs and losses and again the Allen Group certainly proved that point very well.

    You have the Downtown Enhancement Program started in 1998 where we have lost thousands and thousands of tax dollars to take care of around 21 business owners along Main St. Some of them are getting over 50% of their property taxes returned to them each year under this handout program. All citizens NEED this tax revenue for the needs of the community. It is not my responsibility to subsidize these entities – I would say all of these 21 business owners are in much better position to pay their full taxes than I am. Cronyism government once again and you wonder why you have budget shortfalls.

    The Walmart TIF is also a tax revenue loser for the people. Over 5 MILLION dollars on that one and around $6.5 MILLION when you compute the interest costs. We are losing almost all of the property tax revenue on that sweeet deal and all of the sales tax revenue until that debt is covered and most of that to enable Walmart to have another money making year. Bull hockey – Walmart can well afford to pay their full development costs and the citizens should not be losing valuable tax revenue to cover their sorry asses while they drag in billions of dollars a year.

    The sweet deal given to Paul Licausi for the Coleman warehouse project will result in the people losing over $500,000 in tax revenue this coming fall and this will go on for 10 years. This for crappy $8 to $10 temp jobs for the most part in that warehouse which are hire and fire jobs with no benefits, no security – no nothing. Coleman didn’t even meet the employment requirements on their handout they got from the city of Wichita and then moved part of their operation here because they could get a sweeter deal and can get another 10 year handout from another community. I have nothing but contempt for companies of this caliber and the worthless politicians who enable them.

    So Drovetta can sit there and pontify all he wants but to me he has been putting the knife in the back of the Gardner citizens since 1995 when he first got into office and he will continue to do no favors for the little guy but will be more than ready to shake the hand and give the fat cats who come to town with their hand out what they want – they want the people to pay their bills instead of themselves.

    So we have budget problems – I certainly know why and the people are much to blame for keep re-electing worthless politicians such as Drovetta. That is my opinion.

  2. Big mistake!!!! I typed $100 in the first line of my comment. It should have been $100 MILLION. Drovetta wouldn’t even bend over to pick up $100 but merely tell the people we have budget problems.

  3. Jack Burden says:

    I appreciate the history lesson, but we need to get through the 2011 budget process. Then and only then can we look toward the future (spring 2009) while learning from our past mistakes.

  4. Jack, you are giving those responsible an easy out and not holding them accountable. Drovetta and others would looooooove to forget a whole bunch of things while he drivels about the future. You will continue to have problems now and well into the future if you don’t recognize past wrongdoing and make sure they are stopped. Myself I will start with attempting and working hard for an end to cronyism government but it doesn’t sound like you are at that point, Jack – I can certainly consider why you have that viewpoint. You let your children know what is acceptable behavior in your household – I do the same with worthless politicians in my community. I have them on a very short or no leash after all that has transpired here in Gardner. I have to wonder about your calendar also, Jack, when you say we have to look toward the future and then refer to spring 2009 which is the past.

  5. Jack Burden says:

    I look at my calendar and much to my chagrin, IT IS 2010, and the next election isn’t until 2011. At least I had the right century.
    The best way to hold cronies accountable is to vote them out of office and I believe that 3 of the 6 who need to go will be gone after the election next Spring. I think Drovetta will be a 1 term Mayor, I just hope he doesn’t see the writing on the wall and plot an exit strategy with a finely feathered nest. I will be keeping my eye on him to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  6. Well, Jack, Drovetta is Mayor because of only 3 votes and those 3 votes are going to kill the people for another 3 years. I hate to even think of the damage he can bring about during that time on top of what he has already done. If there was anyone who needed to be recalled, it is that jaybird. But Drovetta is the one who sees to the recalling and slandering good people’s reputations because he doesn’t like how they vote – that recall was a travesty that should never be forgotton or the ones who brought it about.

  7. Jack Burden says:

    Judith there will only be so much damage that can be inflicted after next years election if the people elect 3 independent thinkers.

    I say never forget, but don’t dwell, it’s counter-productive. The time to rail against the policies fo the last 20 years is during the campaigns. In the meantime pressure must be applied consistently in order to stanch the bleeding.

  8. In my opinion Dictator Drovetta and his appointed Council continue to thumb their noses as to what the people may want but only on what THEY want or think is best – just like it has been for years. They want to continue their control, manipulation, stonewalling, etc. How are you stanching the bleeding, Jack? I guess I am much like the Jewish people who will never forget the Holocaust and remind the world of it constantly. The people need to be constantly reminded of what they are working with at Gardner City Hall.

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