Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
Several local agencies presented funding requests to city council April 18.
Amy Nasta, deputy city administrator, presented outside agency requests on behalf of Matt Wolff, finance director. Wolff was absent due to illness.
Nasta said the Economic Development, Gardner Small Business Assistance program and the Special Alcohol and Drug Fund provide services to Gardner.
The economic development fund had $245,000 in revenues for 2021 and wanted to expand the Chamber, EDC and Historical Museum.
The Johnson County Utility Assistance and UCS-Human Services Fund had also asked for increases, she said.
Mark Baldwin, council, said he wanted to know what the additional $5,000 to the Chamber would be used for and suggested they use the money to create a fund the city maintains instead—a city beautification fund for businesses.
“The chamber has plenty on their plate,” he said. “It will take time and money and having the city maintain it alleviates from the Chamber.”
Baldwin said he was looking at ten years down the road and $5,000 could possibly turn into $50,000.
Jim Pruetting, city administrator, said would this be taking out the snow removal program.
Baldwin said it was a really gray area, and they had to figure out what is considered maintenance.
Pruetting said there were other nuances such as a small membership fee and more.
“We haven’t gotten to the point of beautification projects,” he said. “It is kind of limiting and better administered by the Chamber.”
Baldwin said they would be the ones to approve the projects, and it would put check and balances in place they already have as a city.
“There are going to be bigger requests,” he said.
Erik Van Potter, council member, said he agreed with Baldwin that it would help set tighter parameters and accountability of how money is used.
Pruetting said beautification and snow removal don’t mix.
Kacy Deaton, council, said she would like to see the city get out of the private snow removal business.
Baldwin said beautification is a separate living and breathing thing.
“It muddies the waters of what they do,” he said. “Does it change the budget numbers.”
Tory Roberts, council member, said beautification is a bigger project and liked the thought of keeping the $5,000 in for snow removal.
Deaton said were they funding private snow removal again.
Roberts said she thought the additional funds were to get the chamber established and create good faith business owners.
Todd Winters, mayor, said he would rather take it out and come back to it.
Deaton said she wanted to know more about the small business fund.
Dave Knopick, community development director, said there hadn’t been activity in the fund for two years and went to the idea of beautification originally.
Baldwin said he didn’t think there was much interest, and Deaton said they could tweak it.
Jason Camis, chamber president, said it was more for an infrastructure oriented project as small businesses don’t have help from TIF districts.
Pruetting said it was used one time for a developer.
$40,000 was approved for 2022 and $50,000 was approved for 2023.
Jason Camis, Gardner Chamber of Commerce president, presented on behalf of the chamber.
He said after seven years his last day was April 29, and they had started the process for his replacement search.
Camis gave highlights of items the chamber had accomplished and said when he started seven years ago they had pretty shoddy records that couldn’t be found and hadn’t filed taxes in five years.
“There was a lack of checks and balances,” he said. “There wasn’t any intentional wrongdoing though.”
Camis said they had doubles the membership and increased the budget by 75 percent.
“2021 was our best financial year which is somewhat ironic with Covid,” he said.
Camis said the Gardner-Edgerton Magazine jumped from $30,000 to $35,000 in ad sales, the Air Show was fantastic for marketing and connections, they reestablished the new resident bag program and landed a brewery downtown.
“The feather in my cap is that we qualified for a National Chamber Award for a fifth time in seven years,” he said. “It is huge for us.”
Camis said the chamber’s three main areas of focus are tourism and marketing, the farmer’s market and content.
He didn’t want to present a lot of new stuff to city council, he said, because whoever follows him will have their own vision.
“Thank you for everything,” Camis said.
Greg Marinette, president and CEO of Southwest Johnson County EDC presented funding requests for 2023 and 2024.
He said when he started seven years ago the city didn’t have one construction project.
“Now there is one on every block,” he said.
Marinette said he hated seeing Camis leave.
They had increased their budget by 50 percent and board members from 10 to 26, he said.
Marinette said the most important thing was their relationship with New Century and the Airport Commission.
“They have much greater appreciation now how much more important Gardner is to them,” he said.
Marinette said Gardner had been terrific thanks to Steve Shute and Pruetting’s past leadership and the last two weeks projects had cranked up especially with restaurants looking to move to Gardner.
“They saw activity in every corner and housing growth,” he said. “And there is more good news around the corner.
Marinette said they had a small request for $7500 for 2023 and 2024 to help with travel costs, building a new website, replacing some positions and growing the reserve fund.

Consent Agenda
Kacy Deaton, council member, requested the contract with Gardner Disposal for the 2022 City-Wide Clean Up be pulled for discussion.
No approval was given.
Deaton said she had issues in the price per ton aspect of the contract.
“Last year we didn’t hit the minimum, and it is over $400 per ton,” she said. “It doesn’t seem fiscally responsible.”
Kellen Headlee, public works director, said Gardner Disposal wasn’t willing to change anything with the contract.
Deaton said it doubles the cost.
“Only one out eight homes participates,” she said. “It is not a super high participation and not financially responsible.”
Jim Pruetting, city administrator, said they would communicate the news through social media.
The contract requires a guaranteed total of $40,000 and Appel Ed additional costs of $200 per ton based on actual tonnage collected.
The collection limitations are for residential debris including furniture, bicycles, magazines, and miscellaneous household items with size and weight restrictions with 4 items per household. Hazardous waste, tires, appliances, limbs and branches are not picked up.
Consent agenda items for a contract with Superior Bowen Asphalt for the 167th Center to Moonlight project, payment for temporary construction easements and permanent a. Was easements for the Center Street Sidewalk project, reappointing City of Gardner representatives to the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency Board of Directors and the purchase for 2022 youth baseball, softball and t-ball programs all passed.

Public Comments
Kenny Keeler, Gardner resident, gave an update on the current Stonebridge neighborhood litigation.
Keeler said they were still currently in litigation with the developer, but the developer continued to move forward and intended to sell the houses before the June 9 court hearing.
“Any new homeowner could be involved in a suit they didn’t know existed,” he said. “I understand the city’s point, but the city could hide behind litigation and not issue permits or inspections.”
Keeler said new home owners were at risk and it puts everyone in a bad position.
“Unfortunately the wheels of justice never churn quickly,” he said.
The HOA neighborhood had filed a lawsuit against the new subdivision developer for their lack of communication and consistency of following the original housing design plans from the original developer.
The lawsuit represents 75 and more homeowners with homes valued at $340,000 to $380,000 but the new 15 to 17 home designs were lesser value and not requiring the original concrete tile roofs.

Planning Commission
A planning commission recommendation for a conditional use permit for MARCK Industries recycling center was approved. MARCK Recycling is located on the west side of North Center Street and 300 feet south of 167th Street.
The permit will expire May 1, 2032, and trees will be planted for screening along the south lot line for the two adjacent houses.
Three other planning and zoning consent agenda items passed for right-of-way easements on final plays for Cypress Creek 1st Plat, Prairie Trace Estates 3rd Plat and New Trails North Plat passed.

Council Updates
-Kellen Headlee, public works director, gave an update on the US 56 Highway Project. He said recently there had been a lack of work because there had been a survey problem with the original design.
“The elevation numbers were incorrect,” he said. “And there were areas of pavement found under existing pavement.”
Kellen said it was pending KDOT review, and he didn’t know how it would impact the timeline of the overall project but they expected it to pick back up in in a week or two weeks.
Jim Pruetting, city administrator, said developers were looking for ground to purchase near the Justice Center, and the city should consider meeting with them to think about selling the 15 acre block.
Pruetting also said they had submitted their RAISE grant application with the City of Edgerton for Phase 2 of the Gardner Road bridge reconstruction project through the Federal Government’s new infrastructure bill.
Winters said it was a great partnership with Edgerton and Johnson County and a benefit to all of them.
Kacy Deaton, council member, said she wanted to discuss the one percent COLA raise they had received that day and city employees needed raises to bring them closer to what is appropriate.
There was consensus that everyone was comfortable moving forward that it continues as a one time adjustment.

Proclamations
Mayor Todd Winters made three proclamations for the city.
April 22 is Earth Day, April 29 is Arbor Day and the week of April 24-30 is Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Jason Bruce, Parks and Rec director, said volunteers will be cleaning the greenway  in honor of Earth Day with refreshments after. Bruce also said Gardner is still considered ‘Tree City USA’ for the 18th year.
There were no old or new business items.
Erik Van Potter attended the meeting through Zoom.
Steve Shute, council Vice President, was absent from the meeting.