Chris Morrow
Mayor of Gardner
With the 2015 Gardner City Council election completed and certified by the state of Kansas and Johnson County, I offer hearty congratulations to newly elected Council members Lee Moore and Rich Melton and re-elected incumbent council member Todd Winters. The effort you put forth during this campaign has paid the dividends you hoped for, and I look forward to working with each of you for the betterment of the citizens of Gardner, beginning on April 20.
To the candidates who ran and did not win election, thank you for your sincere interest in working for the citizens and our city. I make special mention of former council members Heath Freeman and Tory Roberts. Thank you both for working honorably on the council for more than a combined five years of service. Finally, thank you to our council leaders for continuing to serve, including our longest tenured council member – council President Kristina Harrison and Council Vice President Steve Shute. For the first time in many years, the entire governing body is constructed of duly elected officials. Now together, we all will move forward.
For several years now, the strategic goals of the governing body have been: promote economic development, improve quality of life, fiscal stewardship, and infrastructure and asset management. I can say with a great degree of certainty that I and every elected council member support these initiatives and more.
Economic development issues in particular played a large role in all the candidates’ campaigns this election cycle. This is essential for our community, and much work has been done to enhance our ability to attract economic development to Gardner. This remains a priority, because economic development means jobs. It means local services. It means products for purchase, locally, that generate sales tax dollars in Gardner, not other surrounding cities. It also means an increase in the property tax base, which will help alleviate the heavy burden currently shouldered by our local homeowners.
Since 2013, the city of Gardner has undertaken a wide array of actions, including but definitely not limited to:
• Completion of an all encompassing update of the city’s comprehensive plan.
• Approval for an update of the city’s land development code, now underway, and a key enhancement for ensuring Gardner will be easier to do business with going forward.
• Formulation and approval of an economic development strategy, including a detailed plan for implementation. This initiative was led by a volunteer task force of development and business leaders with ties to our community.
• Changes were approved last December, and have been implemented to the development process, providing concurrent review of preliminary and final development plans. These changes shave six weeks off of the timeline for select projects.
• Establishment of relationships with economic development organizations, site selectors, developers and businesses positioning Gardner as a city of choice with which to do business.
We have done all of this and much more. Now, we are poised for additional opportunities. The results of these efforts will be more apparent in the weeks and months to come as businesses and developments will be announcing expansions and new locations opening in Gardner.
Gardner’s future is bright. On April 20 at the first meeting of our new council, we will be able to better position our city for future growth by approving an Economic Development Policy containing an incentive strategy. This policy will offer key consistent messages for cooperative opportunities that developers and businesses crave, but also benefiting our community.
I look forward to our governing body hitting the ground running at our upcoming city council meeting.