Special to The Gardner News
Gardner Township lobbied city council for an increase in support, results of an access study done by WSU were reviewed and new staff positions for 2018 were among the many items on the agenda at the May 15 Gardner city council meeting.
Misty Bruckner, director of the Public Policy and Management Center at Wichita State University, presented the results and analysis of a survey on access issues.
Participants were asked if the community has a responsibility to provide access – 96 percent said it does.
When asked if the city of Gardner, in the past few years, had made improvement in accessibility for those with disabilities – 58 percent said that was true.
Access to public buildings and parking were considered highest priority by the poll participants.
“Crosswalks and sidewalks were also right at the top with this survey,” Bruckner added.
Bruckner said that matches what the city is doing with priorities.
“There is recognition that progress has been made,” she said in summarizing the group’s findings.
Council was advised to continue reaching out with public information and continue supporting and working with the ADA Advisory Committee.
Finally, Bruckner encouraged the city to keep looking for opportunity for partnerships to improve area transportation and recreation access.
Gardner Township Cemetery
Larry Powell, business and economic development director, provided council with some basic background on the relationship between the city and township.
The township maintains the Gardner Cemetery.
At one time in the past the township collected mill levy, but as Gardner grew around it, that greatly diminished.
The city has provided varying levels of financial support over the years.
Powell said that since 2011, that had been consistent at $7500 a year.
Donna Pearce and Mary Fruend spoke to council as representatives of the township.
Pearce said the cemetery was founded in 1866.
She said the cemetery operates on a budget of about $54,000.
Pearce mentioned numerous areas the township could be helped with by the city.
On the township’s wish list was connection to electricity and water, gravel for roads and other projects.
Chris Morrow, mayor, noted that historically, the city had always contributed half of the cemetery’s costs.
There was some disappointment expressed by council regarding the plot price structure introduced in January 2016.
For the first time in years, plot prices for Gardner city residents went up.
Steve Shute, council president, asked Pearce, “If we were to say – township, we’d like to go fifty-fifty again and maybe throw in some in-kind work – would we be able to bring those plot prices down for Gardner residents?”
“I think we could seriously consider that, yes,” replied Pearce.
Later in the meeting, Laura Gourley, finance director, was directed by council to include $27,000 in the budget for the township.
The township reps were told to get with public works to discuss what might be done with some of the other projects.
2018 Budget Policy
Laura Gourley, finance director, discussed 2018 Budget Policy.
She gave summary of water, electric and wastewater funds, and reminded council that they would be taking over the golf course in August 2018.
The item that got the most discussion was staffing requests.
The original list of requests was narrowed down to 11 recommended job positions.
“All staffing requests were reviewed internally by leadership staff in a group meeting. Everyone’s input was obtained and a consensus was achieved,” Gourley said.
In past meetings, council has discussed if the city should hire a staff attorney. An attorney and a legal secretary to support the attorney were on the list of staffing recommendations tonight.
Lee Moore, council member, pointed out that the salary of the two new positions was significantly higher than what is being paid now.
Council struck both positions from the list.
The next position considered was Communications Specialist, a new position to support the public information officer.
Council consensus was to reduce this position from full time to part time, 20-25 hours a week.
There were three positions recommended for Parks and Recreation – Maintenance Worker, Business Development Manager and Assistant Director.
Consensus was to drop the Assistant Director position.
Other positions that got council approval were: Building Inspector, Police Property Officer, Street Maintenance Worker, part time Court Clerk and part time Airport Maintenance Worker.
Chris Morrow, mayor, made two proclamations. May 15-21 is Police Week. May 21-27 is National Public Works Week.
Eleven year old Piper Hutchens came before council during public comments to present a proposal to build a basketball court in Winwood Park.