Special to The Gardner News
Edgerton’s 2018 Annual State of the City Address was presented on Feb. 15 at city hall by Don Roberts, mayor. Seating for about 50 was filled, with a dozen or more standing.
Area officials in attendance were Ron Conus and Clay Longanecker, Edgerton city council members; Mike Brown, District 6 county commissioner; Randy Gregorcyk, Gardner city council member; and Dennis Meyer, FD1 assistant fire chief. Jason Camis, president of Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce and two former Gardner mayors, Chris Morrow and Carol Lehman, also attended.
Roberts began the 39 minute address by noting how much the audience had grown from the first State of City address four years ago and thanking all for coming.
Roberts said the city will be conducting a citizen survey this year and encouraged all citizens to participate. The feedback is used to assess citizen satisfaction with city services and establish priorities for the coming years.
Roberts reviewed infrastructure projects completed in 2017 and planned for 2018.
In 2017, fifty per cent of the streets in Edgerton received a two inch asphalt overlay, including a number of streets that were paved for the first time ever.
“Fifty percent of anything is huge anywhere, but for Edgerton that was much more than just laying two inches of asphalt. It was really covering up roads that were mostly gravel or chip and seal, for always. They never really had asphalt on them so that was a huge step forward for our community,” said Roberts.
The city installed 14,500 linear feet of new sidewalk in 2017, a half mile of that for the 8th Street sidewalk project.
“We did the West Street West 8th Street sidewalk project. That was the first time Edgerton has built connectivity from the Glendale acres area up to the school area. That’s the first straight through sidewalk,” he said.
Other infrastructure improvements completed in 2017 included road improvements on Nelson Street, construction of a new wastewater lift station, new sewer infrastructure at LPKC and replacement of every water meter in town with advanced meters in a system enabling remote reading.
About the LPKC improvements, Roberts said, “All those types of projects are actually paid for through the public infrastructure fund that is funded by that growth out there. None of that money comes from citizens of Edgerton, but it does add a tremendous advantage for us to have infrastructure on and in the ground to attract additional businesses, so we can keep growing the community, building a foundation of infrastructure.”
Infrastructure projects planned for 2018 includes water line replacement of the last remaining aged iron pipe in the city’s water lines, intersection improvements at 4th and Nelson, a new West 3rd Street to support the Dollar General store, and grade separation over the railroad tracks at 207th Street.
Roberts said the 207th Street project has been “on his plate” since he became mayor in 2009.
“There was zero way for Edgerton to ever fund this project on our own, so when we negotiated the route with the railroad and originally the Allen group, which became North Point development, we made them pay for it. So the money is there, design has started, and we’ll finally get an off grade crossing for connectivity. And most certainly, the driving force for me has always been for public safety and to connect both sides of the community to I-35.”
The address then covered the city’s efforts to keep connected with the community.
The city sponsors 14 community events during the year. Frontier Days in June is the largest and attracts thousands to downtown Edgerton. Other events include the Summer Kickoff Block Party, Summer Movie Nights Downtown, and the 3rd of July Community Picnic and Fireworks Show.
Still under the topic of connectivity, Roberts said the city had installed a new website and also implementation of Notify JoCo, to provide emergency alerts to citizens who sign up.
Describing Edgerton as a small town with a huge heart, Roberts described how private donations through the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund had raised money to build a wheelchair accessible bathroom in the home of a handicapped resident.
“I really want to point that out as a benefit, of what having corporate neighbors mean to us, because again, talk about things we could never do – we could have never spent $30,000 on somebody’s bathroom. We could have went and built somebody a ramp, we could have done a lot of little things, but never did we have an ability to spend $30,000 out of the mayor’s Christmas tree fund.”
“Partnering with Others”
About Big Bull Creek, Roberts said, “That’s an investment of about three million dollars in our community by our county, not counting the land purchase that they did about 19 years ago, so I’m extremely happy to see that park actually start to become something. It will be a regional attraction at the entrance to our community, which will drive immense traffic to our community that we can use for additional growth opportunities.”
Roberts noted that in 2017, Fire District #1 announced Edgerton’s ISO rating had dropped from a rating of 4 to 2. Edgerton is one of 16 out of 500 fire departments to earn an ISO rating of 2 or less.
Roberts also thanked the Sheriff’s office for professional, expert service over the years and mentioned many things they do for the community besides law enforcement – such as women’s self defense classes and bully awareness training for kids 5 to 12.
Also under the topic of partnering with others, was working with the Kansas City Area Transit Authority and the county, to expand bus service to Logistics Park KC.
Roberts displayed a number of colorful charts and graphs showing the city’s revenue sources, mill levy rates and how property taxes are distributed.
According to the material presented, each dollar collected is divided as follows: USD #231 gets 45 cents, the city gets 20, 18 goes to Johnson County, 10 to FD1, 6 cents to Johnson County Community College and 1 cent goes to Kansas.
“USD 231 is now seeing a net revenue growth yearly from the work we’ve done in Edgerton of $1,171,000. That’s while things are abated, that’s while we’re still building, and that’s a pretty fantastic number in my opinion, because that number will go up later,” he said.
Another graph showed the mill levy rate from 2010 to 2018 dropping from 42.893 to 30.654.
“We have lowered our mill levy since I became mayor so that if you have $250,000 home, for an Edgerton mill levy, you now pay $238 less than you did when I became mayor,” said Roberts.
The next topic was “Growing Edgerton.” Roberts mentioned ElevateEdgerton!, saying the organization does much more than attract industrial development.
“We’re really focused on everything other than industrial growth. Residential, commercial, hotels, truck stops, everything else to grow our community. That organization most certainly does still work on on the industrial piece but is a tremendous asset that is focused entirely on the community of Edgerton.”
In 2018 the city will continue working on downtown improvement plans and also will begin planning for a new community center facility.
Roberts detailed new retail and small businesses that have recently opened in Edgerton, large industrial businesses that have located in LPKC and talked about the recent annexation of 575 acres for more industrial development.
“I’m honored to serve as mayor, and I know council feels the same. But I wanted to kind of outline that this has been a ton of work folks, this isn’t easy, but there’s a ton of good, as you should see from the numbers, and actually from the results. That’s more important to me, that we see the results. You know paving 50 percent of the roads in town is not a small task, for any town you know, and as we continue to go forward and as things continue to grow, we’ll have more and more opportunities to do great things for you,” Roberts said in conclusion.
Video of the full address can be viewed at gardnernews.com