The proclamation of May 20-26 as National Public Works Week was presented by Steve Shute, mayor to Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director and Michael Kramer, public works director, at the May 21 city council meeting. Staff photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner city council met on May 21 and approved preliminary plans for the Justice Center construction, again considered Budget Policy for 2019-2020, and discussed how to remedy an impasse between council members tasked with selecting candidates for planning commission appointment.
Impasse on commission appointment
Item 2 on the New Business agenda was to consider the extension of the Planning Commission appointment process.
Adrianna Meder, spoke to council about the process earlier in the meeting during Public Comments.
Meder has served on the Planning Commission for 5 years, as chairman at her terms end. She has applied for re-appointment.
She said that recent changes were supposed to make the appointment process move quickly but it hasn’t.
“Is there a conflict of personality within the interview team? Are there concerns with not having qualified candidates? My expectation, and I’m sure the business community would feel the same, is that this should be a straightforward and expedient process,” said Meder.
Meder read several letters of recommendation from area business owners.
Two appointments need to be made to fill the vacancies of Meder and of Heath Freeman, whose terms expire in 2018.
The interview team consists of council members Randy Gregorcyk and Rich Melton, who are locked in disagreement over a selection.
Melton said there was consensus early on, but Gregorcyk changed his mind 14 days later.
The situation is that the candidate resides with an existing Planning Commission member.
The city attorney said that is not illegal, but Gregorcyk remained firm on his position.
“I think the perception there is not something I’m willing to vote on,” said Gregorcyk.
Shute initially recommended choosing a new interview team, but the city clerk said that would require starting the entire process over again.
Todd Winters, council member, said the interview team needed to finish what they started.
Lee Moore, council president, said “we have a good process,” but the problem was they didn’t have a way to deal with a deadlock.
After lengthy discussion, Shute described what he saw as consensus:
“So we’re going to extend. We’re going to ask for a new set of interviewees […] that have not yet been interviewed. So we’ll go back to the list […] to that original list agai, and we will choose the top three from that list. It does not include the one we’ve already interviewed. Does that sound fair?”
Motion was made to take that course of action, approve the 14 day extension, and the motion carried with none opposed.
2019-2020 Budget Policy
A presentation on 2019-2020 Budget Policy was given by Laura Gourley, finance director.
At the May 7 meeting, council’s consensus direction was: No additional personnel; put merit pool increases at two percent for both 2019 and 2020; reduce police vehicle replacements from five each year to two each year for both 2019 and 2020; increase projected end of year (EOY) 2020 General Fund balance to approximately 20 percent; and allowable revenue increase per tax lid exemptions (incremental increase in mill levy).
Following the May 7 meeting , Shute, suggested staff prepare an alternative scenario to accommodate the original request for police replacement vehicles and an increased, city-wide merit pool of three percent to gauge impact on both fund reserves and the mill levy.
Scenario #1, using the numbers from the May 7 consensus, results in a 1 percent decrease in expenditures in FY 2019 and a EOY 2020 projected fund balance (reserves) of 22 percent. The estimated impact to the mill levy is a decrease of 0.665 mills.
Scenario #2, which increases the merit pool from two to three per cent and gives the police the 10 vehicles they originally asked for, results in flat expenditures in FY 2019 and an EOY 2020 projected fund balance (reserves) of 20 prcent. The estimated impact to the mill levy is an increase of 0.147 mills.
“This is just placeholders, the whole thing, your entire budget is estimates, and you’re looking 30 months out for the two year budget. You can only pass it one year at a time anyway. You’re passing 2019, with a conditional approval of 2020,” said Gourley.
Council consensus tonight was to put the merit increase at three percent and the police department will get four new vehicles in 2019 and four more in 2020.
After this consensus, Shute informed council of an investment group interested in a downtown project developing specific properties. He said they would want a development agreement as well as financial investment from the city of around $150,000.
“They are looking for some upfront money to make it happen,” Shute said.
“What I’m looking to do is, I’m trying to work with our economic development partners to come up with financing, where maybe they could help us with some of the money they’re receiving from us.”
Shute said he brought it up now so that Gourley wouldn’t have to be asked make unexpected adjustments in June or July. He thought the amount needed might be around $35,000 per year, which she said “was not hugely significant.”
“There’s no reason not to have a placeholder so we can at least look into it. It’s future economic development, we might as well give it a shot,” said Mark Baldwin, council member.
Lee Moore, council president was less supportive.
“This community has a history of looking a little too far forward in the future and not taking care of things right in front of us that need taken care of, like our airport for example, like our streets and sidewalks,” said Moore.
“I’m questioning aloud whether or not this is the right investment and whether or not we could use this $150,000 somewhere else,” Moore said.
Shute asked him if he was against doing due diligence on the project and Moore said no.
“That’s all we’re talking about at this point is due diligence,” said Baldwin.
Consensus was to move forward with due diligence and set a placeholder for $37,500 a year.
Awards and Proclamations
Gardner was awarded the AAA Community Traffic Safety Gold Award and two proclamations were issued at the start of the May 21 meeting.
May 13-19 is proclaimed Police Week in the City of Gardner and urges all citizens to reflect on the ways in which our lives have been touched by the peace officers who stand guard over our neighborhoods and to participate in the tributes to the memory of those officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
May 20-26 is proclaimed as National Public Works Week in the city, and calls upon all citizens and civic organizations to acquaint themselves with the issues involved in providing quality public works services, and to recognize the contributions which public works representatives make every day to our health, safety, comfort, and quality of life, not only this week but throughout the year. The proclamation was presented by Steve Shute, mayor and received by Michael Kramer, public works director and Gonzalo Garcia utilities director.
Three Scouts spoke to council from the podium as part of the process of earning a badge.
Two individuals spoke about the Gardner Municipal Airport. The first said he felt the airport was an afterthought for the city and urged council to save the airport. The second man said there had not been any advisory board meetings this year and believed the city did not utilize their input.
Council authorized a contract with Kansas Heavy Construction, L.L.C. for the 2018 Pavement Management Program-Concrete.
This year’s Pavement Management Project was divided into 3 separate projects, concrete, asphalt, and chip seal.
This concrete contract will be followed by the upcoming asphalt and chip seal bid openings scheduled for June 4.
Six bids were received with Kansas Heavy Construction, L.L.C. being the lowest bid at $974,151.70.
Council adopted Ordinance No. 2579, the Planning Commission recommendation to approve revised preliminary development plan for the Gardner Justice Center, including 15.2 acres located at the southwest corner of University Drive and Moonlight Road.