Scott Garrie (second from left), parks and recreation director for Gardner, takes his chair with the other department directors at his first council meeting on Aug. 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz


Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
After several meetings spent reviewing the proposed 2017 budget, it was adopted, with a few changes, at the Aug.1 meeting.
Vehicle replacement
Council discussed a $300,000 “placeholder” for vehicle purchases.
“The reason for the placeholder was because this budget doesn’t start until 2017, so it was staff’s attempt to be fiscally conservative, think outside the box, bring the council back some options…,” said Laura Gourley, finance director.
It would pay for new police cars and fund vehicle replacement in other departments as well. A meter reader truck with a hole rusting through the floorboard was mentioned.
There was consensus on the placeholder, but several members wanted to see utility funds contribute to paying for department vehicles in the future.
Codes enforcement officer
The proposed budget included new staff positions.
Lee Moore, council member, asked about about a new code enforcement officer.
“What’s our vision for that going forward… is it for pro-active code enforcement… are we going to send that person out to measure grass length and stuff like that,” asked Moore.
“First off, it’s not my request,” Jim Pruetting, police chief, responded, “The council needs to know, if we add an inspector, that’s what we’ll do. We will double our enforcement effort, so you know, some of the things now that we are not as pro-active or aggressive on, you know, we’ll change that.”
Describing how his department was currently handling code enforcement, Pruetting said, “We understand the business friendly environment we’re trying to create, and we’re not dropping a hammer on people, we’re giving them opportunities to correct it, we’re over communicating.”
Chris Morrow, mayor, said this was being discussed as if it were a staffing decision, but that it was really a policy decision (which should be made prior to a staffing position).
“It sounds like we haven’t made a policy decision about whether or not we’re prepared to step up enforcement…”, said Morrow, “…between now and January when we start talking about the 2018 budget, we ought to make a policy decision about how we’d like to see codes enforced in the city of Gardner”
Steve Shute, council president, agreed and added,”I totally will support Chief Pruetting’s determination on it if he feels his department can handle codes. As it currently stands right now I’m not seeing a need for that enforcement officer.”
Council struck the codes enforcement officer position from the budget.
Another proposed staff position, the business and economic development administrative assistant, was also cut.
Budget adopted
After striking the two staff positions and agreeing upon the $300,000 placeholder for vehicles, council adopted Ordinance 2521 adopting the FY2017 Budget with a 5-0 vote.
Scott GarrieScott Garrie, the city’s newly hired parks and recreation director, concluded his first day at work by attending his first Gardner council meeting. Council discussed a desire to get more grants and sponsors to fund city events. Garrie said he had had experience with that in Joplin.
Public comments
During public comments, a resident homeowner spoke to council about the cost of  remodeling permits. He said he wanted to finish his basement and was told the permit would cost just under $500.”.
The homeowner stated that his neighbor had paid $75 for a permit to do a similar basement remodeling 3three years ago and that he knew Overland Park has a $50 flat fee.
In council updates, Kristy Harrison, council member, said Larry Powell, business and economic development director, had prepared a summary pertaining to the issue, and a copy of that summary to all the other members.