Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner news
Gardner City Council met Jan. 2 and heard a presentation from Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator, detailing results from a recently completed employee engagement and satisfaction survey.
Results from this 2017 survey were compared to a previous study done in 2015. Harrison-Lee reported that the city showed improvement in 39 of the 40 areas surveyed.
The survey data was benchmarked against other organizations.  In 2015, Gardner exceeded the benchmark in 10 of the 40 surveyed questions. In, 2017, the city exceeded the benchmark in 24 of the 40.
“The 2017 survey results are indicative of our efforts to blaze new trails with employee engagement, results that align with the private sector. As we continue to transform the city to high performance, the progress we’ve made in these survey results indicates we’re moving in the right direction,” said Harrison-Lee.
Since 2015, the city has worked to improve compensation and benefits for employees by implementing career ladders, developing a wellness program, lowering health insurance premiums for some plans, and increasing the city’s contribution to Health Savings Accounts.
Also implemented since the previous study were quarterly all-employee meetings, a bi-monthly employee newsletter, leadership and certification training to assist employee professional growth, and an Employee of the Quarter award program.
Harrison-Lee said she was confident the city was on the right path with employee engagement and could continue to make progress by looking at areas the survey shows still need improvement.
“While we’ve made significant strides here at Gardner, we’re looking at our progress against the private sector. We don’t just compare ourselves to other local governments. We believe it’s a higher bar to compare against private sector and we’ve met that bar in several areas but we believe we can improve,” she said.
One of the areas below benchmark was compensation relative to the local market. Harrison-Lee said that progress had been made in that area, but the city needs to continue to improve to stay competitive.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get above benchmark in compensation measurements,” said Steve Shute, council president, in council discussion following the presentation. Shute also suggested implementing some type of goal setting program for employees.

Municipal Airport; Police vehicles; city boundaries
Items approved in the consent agenda included a contract with Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A., for land acquisition services for Gardner Municipal Airport.
The Gardner Municipal Airport Master Plan calls for the acquisition of properties bordering the airport to meet FAA requirements for a Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) for the airport’s East-West runway.
Three properties have previously been acquired and cleared. This property is the fourth, referred to as the Baker tract.
The FAA will reimburse the city for 90 percent of the costs.
Also approved in the consent agenda was the purchase of four 2018 Ford Police Interceptor vehicles from Shawnee Mission Ford. The cost for the four SUV’s plus necessary safety options and additional services required for Police Department operations is $157,927.74
The other business item at this meeting, in addition to the golf course lease, was approval of the 2017 Corporate Limits and Boundaries of the City of Gardner.
The city annexed 70 acres of land in June 2017 and a resolution is required to officially update the corporate limits of the city.
Council adopted Resolution No. 1979 with a 5-0 vote.
This was the last council meeting of the current elected governing body. The next Gardner council meeting, on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m., will be the first with Steve Shute presiding as mayor and new council members Mark Baldwin and Randy Gregorcyk seated.