|Councilmembers Present||Staff Present|
|Councilmember Pflumm||City Manager Gonzales|
|Councilmember Neighbor||Deputy City Manager Charlesworth|
|Councilmember Jenkins||Assistant City Manager Killen|
|Councilmember Kemmling||City Clerk Powell|
|Councilmember Vaught||Finance Director Rogers|
|Councilmember Meyer||Communications Manager Ferguson|
|Councilmember Sandifer||City Attorney Rainey|
|Councilmember Kenig||Parks and Recreation Director Holman|
|Sr. Project Engineer Lindstrom|
|Business Liaison Holtwick|
A. ROLL CALL
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Good evening. Welcome to tonight’s Council Committee meeting. My name is Stephanie Meyer. I am the Councilmember from Ward III and the chair of this committee. Besides myself, the Council Committee members here tonight are Jim Neighbor, Ward I; Dan Pflumm, Ward I; Eric Jenkins, Ward II; Mike Kemmling, Ward II; Jeff Vaught, Ward III; Mickey Sandifer, Ward IV; and Brandon Kenig, Ward IV.
Before we begin our agenda I’d like to explain our procedures for public input. During the meeting I will offer the opportunity for public input. If you would like to speak to the Committee at any of those times, please go to the podium. I will ask that you state your name and address for the record, then you may offer your comments. So that members of the audience can hear you, I would ask that you speak directly into the microphone. By policy, comments are limited to five minutes. And after you are finished, please sign the form on the podium to ensure we have an accurate record of your name and address.
I would like to also remind the Council Committee members to speak loudly and clearly and wait to be recognized before speaking. Our temporary audio system will broadcast our meetings online and archive a copy for the minutes, but will not amplify the sound in the room.
1. DISCUSS THE POLICY COMMUNICATIONS STATEMENT
We have four items on tonight's agenda. The first item is to Discuss the Communications Policy Statement.
With the hiring of a Communications Manager one year ago, the City has been able to streamline and expand communication efforts. In order to move the program along further in a quality manner, direction on overall policy, values, methods and key messages is needed from the Council. Dan Ferguson, Communications Manager, will make a presentation on the policy.
MR. FERGUSON: Thank you very much and good evening everyone. I want to thank the Council President for bringing warm cookies.
So, excited to talk to you here tonight. I’ve been on board with the City a little over a year and a half now, so been slowly trying to build in terms of our strategy and policy and plans for overall communications as a City and organization. So, excited to share with you this draft policy statement which has been provided to you in your packet. Obviously the policy issue, as you as the Governing Body, I welcome any feedback or thoughts you have on this. So, as we go through the presentation and afterwards if you have any questions, comments, obviously looking forward to hearing your feedback and thoughts on where we’re at.
So, obviously as a city we have never had, at least to my knowledge, a real formal communications policy in terms of a laid out plan and procedure. So, this draft policy statement is another step to move forward in that direction. So, kind of begs the question, we haven’t had one before, why is a communications policy important. I think obviously as a city government we have a lot of core functions, maintain infrastructure, public safety. I would argue that an additional core function we have is making sure we engage with the public, we communicate with them in a clear and consistent manner so that they know what’s going on, when it’s going on, why it’s going on and engage with them in a collaborative manner. That’s a really important function of city government. And putting some plans and procedures together is important. You need to formalize how you do it, is you can still, okay, we’re going to communicate with the public. You need to really think it out in a strategic manner. Again, I think this policy statement and putting a formal plan on some paper and moving forward with it is a positive step in that direction.
So, what are we hoping to accomplish with this policy statement which is being presented to you tonight as well as in terms of a communications plan, a formal communications plan moving forward. All these bullet points are pretty straightforward. I’ll touch on each of them quickly.
Build awareness of services. I think again that goes along with the core function of keeping the citizens, the residents and visitors to our community need to know the services we provide them, the projects that are going on, things that directly impact their lives on a daily basis. They needed to be provided with clear and accurate information, have the ability to connect with their city government to engage in that process. I think equally as important is something we’ve discussed internally a lot. I think it’s also important to let people know where the lines are dawn, where the City’s responsibilities lie as well as, okay, this is the county responsibility. There often can be the, you know, sort of lines between how local government functions. I think that’s part of the public education process and I think it’s our duty, it’s not the citizens’ responsibility, it’s our responsibility as a local government, quite frankly, to make sure that they understand the differences and the delineation for what we’re responsible for and what we aren’t, and making sure they’re informed of that. So, that leads right into the next one.
Keep our citizens informed. Again, I think that’s just basic core function of what we do in terms of communications. The folks out there need to know the things that impact their lives on a daily basis and need to have the information out there, whether it’s a major project that’s going on or it’s an issue we’re dealing with as a city government, which leads into the next important part.
Increasing engagement with our citizens. That’s something we’re really focused on with this policy statement and moving forward. I think one of the takeaways I had from the recent citizen survey when we got the results back is I think it’s pretty clear from those results that the citizens in our community want a stake and have a -- feel that they need to have a stake in terms of part of the decision-making process, engaging with City officials and local elected officials on how we go about the decisions that we make on issues and projects. And so that’s something we’re really going to focus on moving forward. I think we do a pretty good of that, and have done a pretty good job with that.
I think one quick example, the project currently going on at Johnson Drive and Woodland. We engaged in an online survey process after the engineering study. Got about 1100-1200 responses from citizens talking about the different options out there. And eventually what we’ve done, is actually happening with the project, a traffic signal is going to go in and that was what, not everyone, but the majority of the citizens on that survey said they wanted. So, combining that feedback with the engineering studies led us to have a real collaborative process on that project. Which I think is a great example and we want to do more of that in the future.
Building credibility of our City communication channels. That’s kind of a never ending goal obtaining that, but long-term perfect world, I want to make it, and we want to make it as an organization that when people want news and information about the City that they choose to go to our City website, they choose to look at our City newsletter, sign up for our social medial channels, e-mail updates. We need to be the source of their information and hopefully provide that clear and accurate information on the things that they find important.
Maintain positive relationships with the local media. Obviously as a City we can provide a lot of conduits of information, but the media has a great deal of power and a great deal of influence. And I know it can be easy sometimes, I even fall into the trap that, you know, the media is the enemy. I want to look at the media as a friend. They’re a great partner in this process to keep our residents, our visitors informed about what’s going on in the city of Shawnee. And so kind of leveraging relationships I had from previous jobs and before I came to the City I tried to leverage those relationships to kind of build those relationships for the city of Shawnee and hopefully we continue to foster that in the future.
And then the last one, build community pride. I think all of you would agree there’s a lot of pride from our residents who are living in the City, very proud to be Shawnee residents. And while there are a lot of great things going on within our organization as a City government doing a lot of great things, there are a lot of great stories out there that I think we have the ability to share that maybe these organizations don’t. I think of a couple recent examples, you know, St. Joseph School recently won a $100,000 grant to get iPads for their students. I mean, we need to share that. That’s a great story. Mill Valley High School wins the State Football Championship. That’s a great story. So, I think using that kind of collaborative approach to share the story of the City is something that we should really focus on as well. So, that’s some of what we’re hoping to accomplish.
How do we go about accomplishing this? Again, it’s about creating a coordinated system. You don’t just decide to do it. It’s about putting formal policies, plans, procedures into place so we formalize how we communicate. One sort of making an impact and we are maximizing our staff time and resources and making the decision not necessarily on quantity of stuff we’re doing in terms of public communication, but on quality, that we’re doing a good job on what we do.
Maximize opportunities for citizen engagement. I’ve probably said engagement about 35 times now already, but that’s really what it is all about in terms of our public communication plan. And we talk about increasing citizen engagement, we can’t increase it unless you provide them opportunities. So again, using that example of the Johnson Drive and Woodland project, the online survey. I’ll get in some other examples later, some other things we’re looking at. But we need to continue to look at what opportunities we can provide our citizens to engage in the process of local government. It doesn’t mean we can do every single project, every single [inaudible], we need to be selective and strategically think about it. But it is important that we maximize those opportunities.
Getting information through a variety of outlets. We’ve got a very diverse population here throughout Shawnee. We’ve got millennials who, you know, I’ve got my iPhone. I basically live on that all day to get my information. We’ve got people that do it through traditional form, City newsletter, regular newspaper. There’s the Shawnee Dispatch and the Kansas City Star. So, we need to make sure we take a broad based approach and use a variety of outlets. I think, you know, hitting on the citizen survey again from this -- from 2015, I think a fascinating thing was one of the largest increases we saw in terms of how people get their information was Facebook and social media. At the same the number one source for information for the majority of residents was the CityLine. And those are diametrically opposed sort of outlets. And so I think that calls for that sort of broad based approach to make sure that we get information out there to citizens throughout our community.
And then consistent messaging. I think this is more of a customer service thing. You know, Citizen A comes into City Hall, whether this a call or, you know, asks a question on social media on Thursday afternoon about an issue and we give them, you know, whatever the answer is. If Citizen B asks that same question 25 minutes later, they need to get the same answer. That needs to be a consistent messaging and consistent, clear and accurate information that gets out there.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Just a couple things, Dan, on this one page.
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. Get the information out to a variety of outlets. And I don’t want to do a commercial for the Dispatch, but the Dispatch newspaper seems to be dedicated and what’s going on Shawnee. Do we commonly put links in our little -- on our web page to the Shawnee Dispatch articles that may be supportive of something we’re reporting on?
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah. Generally what we’ve done with the Dispatch is when we have articles that are specific to City issues or projects we will share those on social media. We haven’t necessarily shared them on the City website at any point. But certainly that’s something we can take a look at.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. Well, the reason I’m bringing that up is because by doing that and people start maybe going there, it might increase --
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: -- the number of people that are keeping current on what’s going on through that source.
MR. FERGUSON: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It can’t hurt. So, I didn’t know if we do that.
MR. FERGUSON: No, absolutely. I think we’ve built a --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No slam against Nico, but when I was out campaigning door-to-door I saw an awful lot of Dispatches laying out in the driveways all wet and smooshed and not getting picked up. So, I’d like to get the people picking those up and looking at them. So, if there’s anything we can do to kind of encourage that it would probably be helpful.
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And then on the consistent messaging thing I had just one comment.
MR. FERGUSON: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And it’s not meant to slam anybody, but it just makes me nervous when we talk about consistent messaging.
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Because I know we want to have a consistent message in terms of not giving two or three different pieces of information on the same subject that are in conflict with each other. That looks bad. We can’t be doing that. But I do worry about coming up with a formulated message, just say public opinion or something, you know, we don’t want to go there.
MR. FERGUSON: No. And I think this is based on kind of the nuts and bolts information in terms of messaging that we make sure when citizens ask questions on things that they’re, and to your point, getting consistent answers. In terms of, you know, viewpoints, opinions, you know, that’s not my job. You know, I think our job as the Communications Division is to provide clear and accurate information and let people on a project or an issue decide those thoughts certainly.
[Key messages slide]
Okay. So, in terms of that messaging, I’ll hit on this in a little more detail at the end of my presentation. But as we looked at establishing and putting together a formal communications sort of work plan for the future, I’ve convened a group of myself and 11 other City employees across a variety of departments. We’ve been meeting over the past few months. I want to kind of talk about long-term communications planning, putting a formal plan on paper together, so we formalize how we communicate. But as a starting point we sort of talked about what are the key messages that we want to get out in terms of getting information out there. These are kind of, after a lot of brainstorming and a lot of careful thought, what we came up. Obviously again this is a draft policy statement. We’re going to take feedback from the Governing Body. This is a living breathing sort of thing, so.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: So, first of all, I think you’re doing a hell of a job.
MR. FERGUSON: Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Doing a great job with everything. And so far you’ve done a great job presenting what you’re presenting in a very humble way. This slide here is in the policy. You know, and I would think if we’re a communications group and we’re trying to communicate to the people out there, you know, I don’t think that we should say we are open and proactive, professional. I think we try to strive to be, you know, we invest citizen tax dollars wisely. We try to do that.
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I mean, it sounds -- I don’t mean to be negative. It sounds arrogant when I read that right there.
MR. FERGUSON: No. There is distinctions out there.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: And I printed it out back in the office and I was like, wow, we shouldn’t, you know, that was my own opinion. And then our goal is to make Shawnee, you know, like a great place to live and work and grow and all that. So, I just think there’s a little couple of words there that fits exactly what you’re saying and just changes it to be, you know, the way we’re -- if we say we’re perfect, then we’re obviously not.
MR. FERGUSON: No. No question. And I will say that this is something we’ve talked about kind of internally with the communications group and I’ve talked about obviously with management and other staff is, you know, what I’m talking about tonight and when we put plans on paper, again, it’s going to be a living, breathing document. It’s never meant, and I’ve told that to the committee that we’ve been working with internally that this should never be set in stone. We’re never going to be done. So, I think, yeah, looking at those distinctions and differences.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: And this is part of the policy statement, so we should be more humble here than anywhere, you know.
MR. FERGUSON: No question. And I think part of that, and obviously there was some careful thought into putting that in the policy statement. But I think part of that, if, you know, whatever changes would be made, and again, we’re open to suggestions and tweaking. But I think, you know, with these that we’ve drafted right now and laying these out, I think it not only -- if we say that, we obviously we have to provide information and proof that that’s actually taking place. It’s one thing to say, oh, we’re great and we do this, but we’ve got to provide substance as to why that’s the case. And I think that’s our challenge as the City government overall, not just the Communications Division to do that. But certainly we can take a look and kind of tweaking to make sure there’s a little more comfort level with those messages. That’s not a problem at all.
So, again, welcome your feedback in terms of the messaging.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric, did you have something?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Just a little question. You know, just more kind of a question or just throwing it out there.
MR. FERGUSON: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Have we ever done, for example, a city services fair like they have job fairs and things like that where people can come to the Community Centre, whatever, and the guys could be -- from Public Works could be showing them how to use that online ability to report stuff. And I mean just kind of -- I don’t know how many people would attend really, but just another thought before I forget it because I’m getting kind of old and stuff.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well, we have those What’s Happening in Your Neighborhood meetings where we have the different --
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah. We’ve talked as a communications group, that committee that I’m working, you know, kind of with over the past few months and I’m still sort of learning, I’m still fairly new on the job, so I’m learning what we’ve done in the past, some things we need to try to do. I believe we’ve done -- we’ve done a What’s Going On in Your Neighborhood in the past. I think depending on the date and time it’s either been pretty well attended or, you know, we’ve seen some pretty light attendance. I think one of the things we’ve looked at is if we have, whether it’s a City open house or a services fair or something like that, what else -- who can we partner with or what can we do to make it more attractive rather than just come and learn about city stuff because I think unfortunately, I find it interesting, but not everyone out there does. So, I think we need to find sort of a hook for lack of a better phrase to get people. But, yeah, that’s something we’ve certainly taken a look at and seen what kind of event or events we can essentially do in the future to draw people into something like that.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Dan.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: And I kind of go along with Eric here. If we did something, maybe, you know, a booth at Old Shawnee Days that showed people how to use our new systems for doing a pot hole or reporting a traffic light that’s out, or, you know, something like that. That would –
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. We have some pretty neat stuff and I just don’t know if that -- we’ve got about ten percent of the people of Shawnee are probably really good about going to the website and being really informed and stuff and there’s that other big 90 percent that are going about their lives at hyper speed and that doesn’t even cross their mind half the time. I think that would be a great place to capture people. I think that’s a good suggestion like Old Shawnee Days.
MR. FERGUSON: No question. That’s something we’ve definitely looked at and seen, you know, what events -- and in a lot of cases, not only creating events on our own, but probably to your point Old Shawnee Days, partnering with events where we know there’s drawn in crowd already, so absolutely.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. Piggy-backing.
MR. FERGUSON: And a lot of times in term of staff time and resources that usually ends up being more successful than maybe trying to, you know, get a blank piece of paper and draw something else on. So, yeah, that’s absolutely something that we’re looking towards in the future.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yeah. I was just going to say I think this looks great so far. But back to the messaging, just a suggestion I had. And maybe it was implied, but maybe [inaudible] explicit, but probably the key focus points or bullets about how the City is responsive to residents. And I think the Shawnee Connect app, which has already been brought up is a great example of that. It could be as simple as just highlighting all the different issues that have been submitted via the app, what’s been [inaudible] out, what the average time, with the particulars of the story to tell their -- there’s obviously more as far as responsiveness that can go along with that.
MR. FERGUSON: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: But I think that’s a great piece for it.
MR. FERGUSON: This is pretty self-explanatory. I think it sort of tells, you know, [inaudible] that’s obviously we use for information. I spoke earlier about the need to have a broad, sort have a broad-based approach and connect with as many citizens as possible to generate -- throughout generations, young and old. And I think right now I think we do a pretty good job of that. We’re obviously going to look at some new ways and continue to investigate other, you know, potential essential options for how we communicate with the public. But right now I think based on where we’re at early in the process I think our focus should be on doing a really good job on means and not spread ourselves too thin. And once we do a really good job on means, then we can take a look at some other essential options down the road.
A couple, one thing I wanted to mention in terms of citizen engagement tool, there’s that word again, engagement. Survey Monkey, that was the service we used for the online survey for the Johnson Drive and Woodland project. I think it’s a very simple cheap service to use. You can easily impact a lot of people and give the people the opportunity to not to have to come to a meeting and give us their opinion or thoughts. They can do it right from their home or office. So, that’s something we’re going to look to leverage.
And then nextdoor.com. I don’t know how many are familiar with that, how many of you guys are familiar with the nextdoor application. But basically it’s a social media tool that’s specific to neighborhoods. We’ve got about -- we did some research, I think we’ve got between 60 and 70 Shawnee neighborhoods that have established nextdoor pages. And these are all citizens in those specific neighborhoods that talk with their neighbors through this social media application. But local government agencies and police departments and things can establish their own pages. So, if there’s an issue that’s specific to a neighborhood you don’t have to get the message out to the entire city. You can say, you know, Lakeview Estates is having an issue with this. Hey, FYI, at the Police Department we’ve got this issue going on in the neighborhood. Here’s some things to look out for, whether it’s a traffic issue or codes issue, whatever it is. So again, that’s sort of one-on-one engagement, but again, not requiring people to have to come to a meeting or go to a certain spot. So, that’s something that I think early next year we’re going to look at and seeing maybe establishing a City page through that.
So, in terms of, I think anytime you put a plan together on anything, whether it’s communications or any other sort of strategic plan, you need to have some sort of values that you sort of sit back on that sort of kind of tell the story of what you’re trying to accomplish. And I think, again, as an organization these are four that we’ve really highlighted.
Accuracy. You know, we need to be our own toughest critics and make sure the information we’re getting out there is correct, it’s clear, it’s concise.
Timeliness. This is a huge thing. I say all the time, you know, we’re a customer service business at the end of the day. And the citizens of Shawnee are our customers. So, we need to be as responsive to them as possible. And I think, again getting back to some of the results of our citizen survey, I think you’ve seen that, that generally people are happy with the traditional customer service they get. One way I’ve, since coming on board, I’ve tried to increase in terms of our customer service aspect is through social media. So, if people have questions on social media we get them a response in a timely manner.
Inclusiveness. Again, that just gets back to that broad-based approach, making sure we’re not focusing on specific individuals or portions of the community.
Simplicity. And the last one is huge for me, simplicity. We get caught in the bubble of acronyms and our own expertise. And it’s generally, generally speaking, not for all citizens. But for the average citizen out there they don’t care or really just don’t want to know all that stuff. They just want a clear and concise answer. And so I think that should really be a focus of ours. Let’s just get them the basic information they want. And if they want to get the details, obviously that’s something we’re more than willing to do. An example that we tried to was that the Budget in Brief document that came out earlier this year to try to make the budget process feel a little simpler.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yes. I’d like to, if we could, take these bullets here and put them in your policy statement there. Put them in the policy statement, that first bullet under Methods.
MR. FERGUSON: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And when you say, “Create and maintain a coordinated system across the entire organization that ensures efficient, effective, and impactful communications,” it would be nice if we said, accurate, timely, inclusive and simple, you know.
MR. FERGUSON: Okay. Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Because since that’s your focus, I think that would be a good place to put it.
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Those are on the second page of the policy statement already. Just wanted to make sure you knew that. Under Values.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Under Values, but not under Methods.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: So, you’re wanting to incorporate Values into Methods?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Oh, yes. Well, I think it’s important to include them in our methodology.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Those adjectives?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: More so than it even is to put it in values. I mean, it’s just --
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: [inaudible]
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I mean, these are action items here to me. I mean, they are values, sure.
MR. FERGUSON: I can see where you’re going with that.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: But this is the method. This is the method under which we’re going to operate. I kind of want it in there, you know, so it reiterates what we’re saying here, so it kind of brings it all together.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: The words [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: But it is also in Values.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, I mean, if you restate it, it’s not going to hurt anything I suppose.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Our value is not redundancy.
MR. FERGUSON: I can actually see where you’re going. We can absolutely take a look at this.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I mean, because that’s your action page here. I mean, this is where we’re going to carry out our functions.
[Moving Forward slide]
MR. FERGUSON: No question. And so as I wrap up here, sorry if I’ve gone so long, but [inaudible] stuff. So, obviously again tonight on the agenda we’re asking to get your thoughts and feedback on the draft policy statement development and feedback both tonight and to move forward. We’re asking to get it put forward to January full Council and for approval once we kind of get everyone’s suggestions and changes in there.
Again, I’ve talked about the establishment of a communications committee, just real quick. What we’ve done in addition again to meet those key messages and talk of long-term plans we have, at this point drafted a formal one-year communications work plan. It’s a draft. It’s a living, breathing document. That will eventually be incorporated into the City-wide work plan. But eventually we want to get to a full robust two to three year strategic communications plan and policy for the City. But since we’ve never had something like this before, I wanted to start small and simple. Could we do a one-year plan? Because if we can’t do a one-year plan, you’re not going to be able to do a three-year plan. So, we’ve got a one-year plan that’s been drafted that’s in progress, it’s a draft really, for 2016 with a few specific goals and objectives, how we’re going to go about trying to achieve those and what measurements we’re going to set, if we’re doing a good job or not. We’ll meet quarterly throughout next year to make sure we’re accomplishing what we want and what we hope. And again, that’s a living, breathing document that will continue to change over time. And that’s the, again, like I said, the bullet point there again. Hopefully down the line in a couple years we’ll have a full two to three-year strategic communications plan.
And then lastly, the communications audit. That’s actually one of the goals we’ve drafted for next year. I think it’s really important to spend the next year taking a look at everything we do in terms of public communications. I mean, I’ve got a pretty good grasp for it, but I think really to get down in the details and analyze everything we do as a communications division. And are we maximizing staff time and resources? Are we making impact? Are we reaching the number of people we need to reach? Or are we just doing work because we’ve done it?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Is this an internal audit?
MR. FERGUSON: Yes. Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. So, it’s really, again, it gets back to the quality versus quantity issues. You want quality communications materials and strategies not just a bunch of -- so, I think we made some really good steps over the last year, year and a half. We’ve got a long way to go. It’s a long process to get where we want to be, but I think we’re moving in that direction and I look forward to working with all of you and continuing to move forward. So, with that, I’ll shut up and take any more questions you guys have.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well, thank you, Dan. I just want to say I think you have -- I’ll echo what Dan said, too. I think you’re doing a fantastic job and it’s been great having you on board and it’s great having these conversations.
Just a couple things that I think are already kind of on your radar. I know we’ve previously talked about social media, and I think, and maybe I’m kind of making this up in my mind, but it seems like there has been a more concerted effort to get out and start sharing that stuff. So, kudos for that.
MR. FERGUSON: No. We’ve actually did some analysis over the last couple weeks. And this is not -- I’ve had a lot of help with this. It’s been more about just having a more organized statute to it. In terms of Facebook likes over the last year, year and a year, we’re up about 23 percent. Twitter has seen a huge jump. We’re about 40 percent up in terms of the number of followers. And that’s the end all be all. I mean, you know, anyone that knows anything about social media those numbers can lie in analyzing statistics, so they must align. So, it doesn’t mean everything, but I think it shows some increased engagement that we’ve tried to work on.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Absolutely. Do you have the plan? And this it’s like walk before you run, I know. But do you have a plan to maybe engage some of the other departments to get them to start funneling content to you that we can share on that main page?
MR. FERGUSON: Yes. As a part of one of the sort of strategies within that one-year work plan that we’re working on right now is establishing some communication liaisons. Really in all departments, but specifically the key departments. So, rather than me going to Public Works and saying, hey, who can I get this from, we’ll have a one person contact and say, you know, Person A, this is what I’m looking for.
We’re working on an editorial calendar actually which will be a living, breathing document. Right now we’ve got the major things in there. But again, for those quarterly meetings and through weekly discussions all have with different departments, we’re going to sit down and say, hey, what have you got going on this week. Obviously the Parks, Pipes and Pavement sales tax we’re going to see some dirt turning, some projects going on. We want to make that a huge highlight next year on the website and social media, so absolutely. I don’t know if that will be a formal plan, but the process of starting that is in place.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Great. And the one last thing I would say before I open it up to everyone else is I think we’ve talked a little bit about, and I think that the Budget in Brief that you prepared was an awesome first step. That’s a great document.
MR. FERGUSON: Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well done. About kind of looking at new ways we can present the budget. I know Brandon and I had some meetings when we were at the NLC conference with some folks who do that kind of, you know, more higher level budgets, some cool online stuff. Is that something that you kind of have in your mind right now?
MR. FERGUSON: Yes. Definitely in the back there. I’d certainly welcome anything you guys have heard in terms of strategies and ways to go about this. You know, I went to a conference back in September where there was some discussions with some communications professionals on they’re actually having the same issues trying to see what they can do to make it a little easier to read and a little I guess more “fun” to run. Fun in quotation marks.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Budgets aren’t fun?
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah. Yeah. So, I’m going to be reaching out to some of those people that spoke, but certainly welcome any feedback on that. That’s definitely something we want to take a look at.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim, I think you had something.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. I just want to say this is -- it’s good to have something like this and I appreciate the job you’ve been doing. I particularly like the idea that you have of having a one-stop shopping, one person in each department to go to or ask questions of because that will streamline it and make more information. I think it’s a great idea. But as you suggested many times, it’s a living breathing document and we’ll learn as we go along, but the City is going to be better off for it.
MR. FERGUSON: No. And I’ve told everyone, I mean, I’m working as hard as I can to improve stuff and to move us forward, but this is a team effort. I mean, I’ve had an incredible amount of help and been really blessed by it. Bridget specifically is one person, Bridge Moser. I’ve told her specifically she can’t leave as long as I’m in Shawnee. She’s not allowed. And I have tons of help. And I think kind of establishing those key people and sort of making [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Does anyone else have anything? Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Just a little bit of feedback. I love the idea of an editorial calendar by the way, so. I think the best companies who utilize social media most effectively have that. So, great idea. I really love that. The website redesign, refresh, does that fall into the one-year communications plan, or is that a separate project?
MR. FERGUSON: It is. We’ve kind of gone back and forth on it. Originally when we started on the work plan we had it in there and then there was some feedback that was sort of split on it. Part of the group was that’s a really large project, let’s focus on that later. But then thinking about it, talking about it more, that’s become a, I know a piece for me selfishly, but to be quite honest with you, a pretty high priority to redesign and improve our website. There’s no firm timeline on that, but that’s something I know that we’re going to start actively looking into. And so, yes, that is -- we do have it listed as sort of a strategy on the one-year plan. I don’t know if it’s going to meet within that one year, but that, you know, is certainly can be pushed back because that’s going to be a longer span of time to accomplish that. But we ultimately decided that we needed to put that in there because that’s such a [inaudible] for us to get at some point that to not have it in there seems -- it just seemed not to make sense really, so [inaudible].
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Part of that you’ll hear more about during the budget process, because of course it is a big project. But as we [inaudible].
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBERS: Mike, did you have something?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Yeah. Are you done?
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Okay. Yeah. Dan, thanks for the presentation. I’ll make a handful of comments, then I’ve got some questions for you as well.
MR. FERGUSON: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: The communication I think is hugely important. Just recently with this chicken coop thing that we had, I know that the Dispatch does a summary article and that’s their job is to summarize it. But I feel like the majority of e-mails I got were objections because they weren’t aware of what we were doing. So, they were objections about things that we had discussed for an hour. But since they couldn’t get it from the summary they didn’t know. And I feel like if we had had that information out there like we had discussed this, that and that, it wouldn’t have necessarily sold everybody, but it would have prevented I think a lot of the anger to know that we had done some due diligence on some of these items and had considered some of these items. So, that was just one recent example I think where communication would have been key and would have saved us probably a lot of angry e-mails just in general.
On your presentation here, I really do like the “What do we hope to accomplish.” That’s good. “How do we hope to accomplish it?” Great. The Outlets and Our Focus, I love all that. I’m kind of like Dan. I’m not quite sure on this Key Messages part because I feel like the role of the City in communication is to be informative, not to try to sell the citizen on what we’re doing. And so going back to this chicken coop, informative would be that we discussed possibly permitting. We discussed different regulations on distance, whereas selling would be chickens are going to be great, you’re going to love chickens, be for chickens. And so when --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Eat lots of chicken.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Eat lots of chicken. Yeah. Eat more chicken.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: It’s not like a Chick-fil-A. It’s not like a Chick-fil-A.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Not your neighbor’s chicken.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right. And so when it comes to being informative by all means the focus is great and it helps us accomplish that by being accurate and timely and inclusive and all those things. These key messages I feel like are an attempt to sell the City. Really I don’t even know on this key message if even the eight people sitting here could agree on whether we’re efficient or whether we use tax dollars wisely, and that’s a small sample. So, I’m just not a huge fan of that key message section. I like all of it outside of that. So, my comment is I don’t know if we should remove that or I just don’t see the purpose in that key message section.
MR. FERGUSON: And if I may [inaudible] questions and comments just to kind of respond to that very quickly. I can certainly understand your concern. I mean that’s, again, it’s a living breathing document. It weighs some things. And I think we looked in terms of this presentation and in terms of policy statement, you know, let’s put more in there maybe to start with and then we can get a starting point. I do think I certainly understand your point about that walking that fine line between selling someone something. I think that gets back to the point that when you do have a key message, whatever they are, whether it’s five or six or we tell them something different or we left them out. I do think it’s important though that when we communicate with the public that we talk about a project that we don’t sell it to you. To use your word sell it, but we do show that obviously, you know, you give us, you know, your tax dollars and we want people to feel good that they are getting invested wisely. It doesn’t mean that we’re always going to agree on every project, every issue. But I do think that it’s important that we have some -- a sense, a story to tell. But that’s a fine line. You make a great point. It is a fine line between a sales job and I think that’s where it leans back on us to if we’re going to have those key messages, we have to approve them. I mean it’s got to be substantial and substantive.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: And when I’ve done, to jump in, when I’ve done -- I’m done a million of these communications plans through my world. Typically when you do a key messaging or something like this they’re more aspirational. So, we want to strive as a city to be all these things. We want everyone to think, so less of a we’re the best in town, but more of we hope to accomplish these.
MR. FERGUSON: And I think I see both where Councilman Pflumm and Councilman Kemmling are coming from in terms of maybe whether we include them or not, but if we do, looking at tweaking to make that a little clearer in terms of what the focus of them are. So, we can absolutely take a look at that.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It touches on my comment when I was talking about consistent message too because I was trying to stay away from the sales thing and we want to get the coordinated message when we’re putting facts out so that we don’t have three sets of facts going out obviously.
MR. FERGUSON: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: But I didn’t want it to be opinion-swaying kind of stuff. It’s just the facts, man.
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah. No question on that. Again, that’s our focus from what I’m told, you know, when I engage the citizens that, you know, the community, whatever, what I tell them it’s our job to provide the information. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s good or not. That’s not my job to persuade you.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: I think you’ve done a fabulous job [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike, do you have more questions?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Yeah. I have a handful of questions. If we want to discuss this topic tonight --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I’ve got just a real comment, and I understand what Mike is saying. You said the word, I like the word “strive.”
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Uh-huh. That kind of word.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I think that’s a good word.
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah. Absolutely.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Because I think we could, you’re right, I think we’d all -- some of us here would agree differently on that phrase, but I think we all can agree that we strive for that.
MR. FERGUSON: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: So, going on to a couple questions. I’ll make a generalization. If we’re making a policy statement, we’re either trying to improve something that’s -- we’re either trying to fix something that’s broken or improve upon something that’s not quite working like we’d like it to.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Or I think establish a new protocol.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Or establish a new protocol. So, we’re making a new policy statement. What are we specifically as a -- can you give me an example of something we’re trying to prevent from happening again? Is there an area in the past that we’re fixing with this statement, or --
MR. FERGUSON: I don’t know if I can give you a specific example. I’ll speak in a general sense. I think what I’ve found and again, you know, I’ve had a great experience working with the employees across the departments, but I do think one major issue that I think this policy statement is a step, not the solution, but a step along with the formal communications plan and working through that is there is a lot of sort of people crossing over each other and not talking to one another and things not getting done as efficiently as possible. So, I think if I were to highlight one thing I think that’s the one I have seen. And it’s nothing, I mean, we’re like any other organization, but I mean, that’s going to be a constant challenge. So, it’s not unique to us, so I don’t want to alarm people that we’ve got something going on that’s unique to us. But I think that’s -- with this that’s one major area that I’m hoping that we can sort of rein in a little bit.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Mike, it seems to me though that we’re doing here is kind of -- we’re codifying our communications policy. We’ve had communications obviously all along. But now we’ve got a professional staff person that that’s their full-time responsibility. It seems appropriate to put together our basic, okay, this is how we’re going function with this new person and this is how we’re going to put our policy together for the City. So, it seems like a good idea.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Dan, did you have something on messages before?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Yeah. In general, we’re going to be doing a lot more traffic work, road repairs. I mean, we’ve had -- we get e-mails when Pflumm Road was down because we had a pipe broke and, you know, they had to shut the whole road down to go across there. That’s great. But I think that needs to be on our website. I’m not a Facebook guy, so maybe you had it on there, maybe you did. And then the other areas are like, you know, when people are warming their cars up, you know, the Police Department kind of says, hey, you know, we had a stolen car here. Don’t let your car warm up for more than five minutes. Those are the kinds of messages that you need to kind of coordinate through our website or something like that. But I don’t know that everybody uses Facebook. And I think more people than you think probably go to our website.
MR. FERGUSON: No, there’s no question. We have a great number of our hits on our website. It’s one of our largest outlets. So, that’s something that we try to balance it, but then obviously we have a lot work going on at one time, so we don’t necessarily do every single road closure when we have -- sort of your one on Pflumm Road when we had that major one, we did have it out there. When we have those major ones that’s my first question generally when I get a notice about a road closure is, okay, what’s the impact that we’re talking about. And based on that we sort of make an independent case-by-case decision on, okay, does this, you know, kind of meet the parameters getting out there community-wide. And a lot of cases it does. And at that point, you know, I talk to Nico at the Dispatch and say can you get it out there on your website and we put it on our website, social media, through our e-mail update and Constant Contact. We have about -- around a thousand citizens right now signed up for those, which we grow here so. And obviously again, Councilman, with the Parks, Pipes and Pavement, you know, with those projects, especially with the street projects next year that’s something we’re going to really focus on consistently, keeping people updated on that work going on.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike, we’ll quit interrupting you now.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Sorry.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Maybe.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: I’m kind of -- I think you’ve kind of answered this question, but I was going to ask you, this policy statement, is this supposed to just apply to the Communications department or is it all City employees or what’s the scope of this?
MR. FERGUSON: I think it’s specific to the Communications division. Obviously for this policy to work and be effective and for the Communications committee to be effective we’re going to need buy-in from obviously the Governing Body to start, especially with the policy statement. And then we’re going to have to have buy-in from all City departments and Parks and Rec, City management. So, I would say, and people can correct me if I’m wrong, I would say the Communications division is in charge of helping oversee that this is put in place and handled appropriately and take the responsibility for it. But it’s going to be organization by [inaudible] successful or not.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: And I guess my question there was about whether this is going to be used -- with Councilmembers here we get asked questions by press and typically we have Facebook pages and we make -- is this to be construed as applying to the Councilmembers themselves?
MR. FERGUSON: I would, and again, I will speak based on my opinion of that question you asked. I would say no. I generally as a Communications Manager for the City generally draw the lines between City and elected officials. It’s not in any way my responsibility to tell Councilman Kenig, Councilman Pflumm or Councilman Kemmling what you think about an issue and how you should handle the interview. I’m certainly there as an outlet if you don’t know a reporter and I’ve a relationship with them and you have a question on how to handle things or you want some information on an issue, I’m certainly there to help and willing to help. But in terms of you can’t talk to a reporter without coming to me, that’s -- I don’t think you’d do that anyway, but that’s not going to happen. But I think, yeah, I think it’s an organization-wide approach.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Yeah. That’s my questions.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Is there any other discussion from the Council?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: The kids were just taking a selfie so that they could make sure that their teacher knew that they were here.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I know. They were putting it on Facebook maybe.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Or their website.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Maybe. Or their website, maybe both.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: You’re going to be more famous than you ever were.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Thank you, Dan.
MR. FERGUSON: All right. Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Is there anyone from the audience who would like to speak to this item? All right. Seeing none, the recommended action tonight is to forward the proposed policy statement to the January 11, 2016 Council meeting. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: I move that we forward the policy statement to the January 11, 2016 Council meeting for approval of the Governing Body.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Second.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. I have a motion and a second. All in favor --
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Before we --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Oh, yes. Sorry.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Real quick, just a further discussion. So, there was talk about possibly changing the message section. Are we voting right now to forward as is without changes?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I believe that’s the motion on the floor, so.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Well, I moved -- it says, to read it, it says, “Staff recommends the Council Committee forward the Communications Policy Statement with any recommended changes to the January 11, 2016 City Council meeting for approval.” That would be the verbiage of my motion.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. What are our recommended changes?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: So, Dan, do you have enough information to make some modifications?
MR. FERGUSON: Yeah. We’ll work on the -- I know I saw Carol making some notes. Obviously I have made some notes. I think we’re pretty clear, but certainly if there are any questions the Communications committee will get in contact with you to make sure. And then again, at that, you know, [inaudible] finalize this. But, yeah, I think we’re good.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: With that clarification I continue to second it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Very good. We have a motion and a second. All this in favor say aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Opposed nay. Motion passes. (Motion passes 8-0).
2. DISCUSS REVISIONS TO POLICY STATEMENT PS-65, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND, REGARDING THE SHAWNEE ENTREPRENEURIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (SEED) PROGRAM.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: The second item on tonight’s agenda is to Discuss Revisions to Policy Statement PS-65, Economic Development Fund Regarding the Shawnee Entrepreneurial and Economic Development SEED Program.
The SEED program was established in June of 2012 as a part of PS-65. It is an economic development incentive tool that encourages job creation within Shawnee. Since that time the program has assisted eight employers in Shawnee, helping to create more than 230 new jobs. City staff, along with other economic development partners, have reviewed the program and are proposing revisions to enhance its effectiveness. Additionally, Councilmember Kenig put forth several concepts related to start-ups that have been developed into proposed new elements of the SEED program. Andrew Nave, Executive Director of the Shawnee Economic Development Council, will review the proposed changes and receive input.
Go ahead, Andrew. Welcome.
MR. NAVE: Thank you. [Inaudible] This program has been around a couple years now and I think been extremely successful. But like any program we want to, first off, where does it do well, what are some areas we that can improve it, and then where are some areas that we can enhance it to make a little bit better. So, that’s what I’m here to discuss with all of you tonight.
Run through some of the summary points of the SEED program. The SEED program, Shawnee Entrepreneurial and Economic Development program, which you all remember was a little over three years ago that was passed as kind of a new tool in our toolbox of economic development incentives. We’ve had, you know, targeted incentives when it comes to locations and real estate. We’ve had some tools when it comes to what type of project we’re trying to incentivize, whether it’s a highly capital intensive project like a manufacturing building that requires potentially a large investment in real estate or a property tax abate could apply. We didn’t really have that perfect solution or that tool for kind of those labor intensive projects, whether it may be significant job creation, but not as high a capital investment. So, that was some of the theory around the task force of the EDC members that met and made some recommendations to this body. And as a result of that was incorporated into Policy Statement 65 as part of the Economic Development Fund.
But a lot of the language in the policy statement about the background and history, won’t repeat it all. But at its essence, at its core, the SEED program was focused around job creation and entrepreneurialship. We didn’t really have tools to address those two areas of economic development. And so that’s what the program was designed to do.
It really came out in two components, tangible components. The Forgivable Loan Program, which is up-front cash-based program based on kind of new payroll commitment of a company moving to Shawnee. We’ve used that program as Council President Meyer alluded to seven times. And we have a couple of those projects pending and we reviewed that project -- that set of programs seven times. We have probably discussed it, pitched it, sold it to companies dozens and dozens of times, maybe hundreds of times. So, it’s sold a lot. It’s oftentimes the marketing hook that we use to stay in front of a company or to get our name, our community and our sites and building in on a project that may otherwise we wouldn’t have if we didn’t have this slate of tools that we have. So, the Forgivable Tool Program is a very good tool for us.
The Loan Fee Payment Program is a program that was created at the exact same time with a different focus. It was focused on entrepreneurs, a small business creation, a small business development. If you remember at the time there was a lot of changes and modifications to the SBA lending standards and some of the components of the SBA financing. And so we kind of took some of the best of some of the changes that were made to the SBA programs and created a program called the Loan Fee Payment Program, which is a little of a mouthful, but we couldn’t figure out a way to truncate, to shorten that. But it has been used once. We have two other companies right now in Shawnee that I would call them pending. They’re looking at it and they’re running their analysis. But essentially what that does is to help buy down some of the SBA fees for certain types of SBA loans and only a portion of fees. Not all fees, not all the bank fees, but a portion of SBA fees. And really what that is designed to accomplish or practically accomplish is that it helps companies lower their debt service, which thereby increases their cash flow. Typically in a SBA loan a lot of those fees are rolled into the loan principal, so that’s extra principal that you have to pay on. If we can lower that debt service that helps some of our entrepreneurs and small companies. So, those are the two components of the program that we currently have.
Participants in the program as of today, we have eight participants. One, you can see Heartland Seating there two-thirds of the way down. These are somewhat -- these are chronological order rather with the SBA Loan Fee Payment Program. I’ll tell you I feel really good. There’s a cross-section all over the community in terms of where these companies are located. Clarence M. Kelly stores are out in western Shawnee. Mile Hi Foods is at Westlink in the new development along K-7. Heartland Seating is in downtown. General Automatic, Wesco are in the Nieman Business Park in the eastern portion of our city, so good geographic spread around the community and an even spread between -- half of these are office users, half of these are industrial users. About half of these were leases where a company came in and they were only leasing, another half of them were purchasing an asset, purchasing a building. So again, I think the spread of how the tool has been applied has been very good.
You can see there at the bottom, I won’t go through all of them, but 320,000 has been expended for this particular program for these two components for the SEED program at 250 new jobs created in the community. That’s a little over $1,200 a job if you were to run the math that way, which comparing to state programs, which there’s obviously considerably more economic development incentive programs at the state level than at the municipal level. A cash base incentive program that’s between $1,000 and $1,500 per job is a pretty good standard, a pretty good metric when you compare those. There are other incentive programs, tax credit programs, other offsets that can exceed that greatly. They can go up to $2,000, $3,000, $5,000 a job if there was a tax credit. But this is a cash based program and I feel confident that your program is where it needs to be. So, that’s kind of a run-down of kind of who some of the recipients are.
I want to run through a few just highlights of some of the proposed changes. Again, we’re making some tweaks and a couple new suggestions and modifications to the program. A big one that we’re looking and proposing to adjust is allowing for median salary to be a component of eligibility. Right now the program calls for, again the two different component programs work differently, but the Forgivable Loan Program is the program we’re talking about here. It requires an average wage. The theory being that we’re trying to encourage companies to come into Shawnee that have an average wage in Johnson County. That we’re driving the wages in our community up, not down. That’s theory behind it. As the average wages kind of grow, as the economy recovers, last year as we promoted the program that average wage across Johnson County was about $48,000 a year. That’s all industries, everyone combined. So, that includes the big engineering firms. That includes Sprint. This year that average wage, as we sit today, is about $52,000. So, that average wage can be a component that makes some companies ineligible just because of that. Still a good thing, still a good policy to have that would drive the wages up. But we’re looking at proposing that we adjust it to within a specific industry. We look at the median of the average industry, the average wage in that industry meaning that if an employer pays well against their peers that they don’t necessarily maybe out-pay Sprint so to speak. That’s still a good job. That’s still a good investment of our resources to bring that company to Shawnee. So, proposing slight, it’s an addition to it, it’s not replacing the average wage. But in addition to another way that the company could be eligible is through their industry media.
We’re also redefining “spec” building occupant, the “spec” building occupant level of benefit. Before that was even [inaudible] still the previous definition was planned multi-tenant building occupant. And that was a mouthful. It was always hard for me to describe to the real estate brokers and with [inaudible] and folks that are helping these companies make these decisions, it’s easier just to say “spec” building. If we get a company that’s coming in that’s wanting to occupy a “spec” building, wanting to kick off a “spec” building that will give us additional real estate to lease to other companies in the future, that’s a good thing. That’s a good economic development strategy. So, we’re kind of clarifying that.
I’ll talk about “High Growth” program employer and a couple of the new programs, the Property Tax Assistance and Lease Assistance programs in a minute. At the bottom two other kind of tweaks in this recommendation are confirmation of salary eligibility to SEDC staff over privacy concerns. The eight participants we’ve had so far, over half of them have raised concerns. None of them have had, after we’ve kind of walked them through it, but over half of them have raised concerns about, well, wait a minute, if I share my average wage data with the City, how does that work, do my employees see all that data and what concerns does that create. We’ve had many, many more companies raise that concern that were eligible for the program that chose to deny the program. Some of which came to Shawnee anyway, but many of which did not because they did not want to disclose their wages. This is particularly acute when we’re dealing with a smaller company. You saw previously that some of these recipients of 19 jobs, 18 jobs, and the small business, when you’re starting to share wages, that can have -- that’s a sensitivity. That’s an impact that business owners definitely feel. So, what we’re proposing under these changes is to still have the requirement, still have that hurdle and that bar to know that when we’re expending public dollars that we’re still driving those wages up. But to have that information available to our office where it can be kept confidential and then our conveyance to you all when we come before you with one of these proposals is to convey that. That’s very similar to how the State Department of Commerce, Kansas Department Commerce discloses their information and kind of keeps that from being in the paper the next day so to speak. And then also kind of throughout the program kind of shifting the focus from that average salary focus and at least the language of the document to total payroll.
And again, I think you remember from when we set this up, the theory being on payroll there’s a lot of different ways in an incentive program to structure it. Some are based on per job, some are based on just the wage. We’re looking at the payroll. Again, we’re trying to add new wealth to our community. We’re looking at how much new payroll does a company bring into Shawnee or does a company add that’s already in Shawnee because it’s about payroll. We might have a high wage employer that has very few jobs, well, that’s a good thing. Inversely, we might have an average paying employer who does a lot of jobs, well, that’s a good thing, a good projected reason, so that’s why we focus on payroll. So, those are a couple of the tweaks to the language in the policy statement and then I’ll talk about a couple new components that we’d like you all to consider adding.
The first one being the High Growth Benefit is what we’re calling it. This would again be the Forgivable Loan Program. There’s a benefit level for a new business to Shawnee that’s 1½ percent. There’s a higher level, 2 percent for an existing Shawnee business. And that follows our longstanding policy on property tax abatement that we’re incentivizing those companies that have been in our community for the long period of time, incentivizing them at a higher level. That’s always been our policy. And then we’re looking at the Spec Building Program. This would be a fourth component, the high growth benefit, again focusing on and really trying to target what are those areas of our economy, not just the Shawnee and the Johnson County, the regional economy, but of the national economy and across all the industries. What industries are growing. What industries are really moving forward over the long term and what are going to have the highest impact.
Rather than just kind of take a stab at what those might be we really drilled down trying to decide which companies those are through some of the documents and discussions that are happening all around our region. Most recently, Mid-America Regional Council, in partnership with the Brookings Institute, has released kind of the, what they’re calling the Prosperity at a Crossroads, a report that focuses on economic development all across the Kansas City Metro, but it focuses on several core things that we as a metro can do to be more economic development competitive. One of the things is focus on key industries. What are the industries that our region, both Kansas and Missouri, that our region does really well and let’s leverage and maximize those. So, that’s kind of where we’ve kind of landed on. We’re going to focus on those high growth sectors rather than being kind of open-ended to, you know, each to his own opinion. This really kind of focuses with some data and with some backing of other groups that are targeting industries that have economic development programs. This is some of the ways we can target that.
So, the four that we’ve kind of pulled out of that report are transportation and warehousing. We’re basing this on NAICS, those North American Industry Classification Codes. Every business has their own industry classifications. So, transportation and warehousing which is obviously a big bucket, but certainly we see that. That’s always been a strength of Shawnee and will continue to be. We’re seeing that with the Westlink development. A number of the tenants in the Westlink development are warehouse distribution employers. Not as many manufacturers as I would have originally expected right out of the gate. I still think there will be manufacturing companies in the Westlink development, but the first three of the first four have been distribution companies.
Information. Certainly IT technology, the information sector, that’s NAICS Code 51. That’s a big sector, but that certainly is a growing industry. Finance and Insurance and Professional Services, those are two things that Johnson County and Shawnee, but certainly Johnson County has a strength in already, an area that I would recommend that we focus on. We’re going to have that more aggressive level of benefit.
You can see the benefit period that jumps 3.5 percent. That’s the benefit. We’re doing a quick example for you. We do some examples on some of the newer programs, but just an example. A hundred employee -- 100 jobs, 100 employee new company to Shawnee that had -- let’s say it’s an IT company, about $60,000 job per employee. That’s a $6 million payroll. That’s going to come to about $200,000 of that benefit. So, that gives you a frame of reference, 100 employees, $60,000, that’s about $200,000 of that level of benefit. Which from a technology company to kind of separate us in the marketplace, that will certainly have a positive impact. That will certainly help us do that.
So, that’s the High Growth Benefit. That’s kind of a new proposal, new kind of look. Some of this was Councilman Kenig’s suggestions in terms of let’s focus on the strengths of not only the things that we do well, but what are some things that are coming down the horizon that we should be targeting.
Another program. Property Tax Assistance Program. So, this is a program that as we look at kind of the gaps and our incentive tools. And that’s what we’re trying to, you know, we’re trying to meet the broadest cross-section of companies that we can attract to Shawnee. But there’s always gaps. There’s always challenges where our tools don’t precisely fit what the company is trying to do or what maybe they’re leasing and not buying or maybe they’re only going to consider leasing. We’re trying to fill gaps where we can. I think this program could do that in some respects. So, the Property Tax Assistance Program, how this would work would be, again, encouraging new business with some of the cost of a new property. Again, limited to high growth industry. So, as we propose today, those four NAICS codes, those four broad categories, limited to those, is a new incentive tool. But it would be a reimbursement of all of their real estate taxes. Four, unlike our property tax abatement program which lasts ten years, up to ten years, this would be limited to three years initially and potential of a fourth year. So, you can see kind of the breakdown there, 100 percent for the first year, 75, and then 50 for the third year. The fourth year --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. You didn’t mention on the fourth year what that was going to be. Is that 25 percent or --
MR. NAVE: I think that’s open-ended. I think the assumption would be that it would either be the same as the third year or we could continue to stair step it down with another 25 percent. We were leaving it fairly open-ended to get your feedback. But also, you know, again, what we’re looking to add with the fourth year is some components that encourage that company, that employer to further invest in the community. Whether it’s LEED standards, environmental sustainability, or is multi-mobile transit opportunities, whether it’s, you know, dedicating some right-of-way, dedicating some property on there, whether it’s newly acquired or a newly constructed building, providing some of those options. Or whether it’s continuing with the entrepreneurial focus of this program giving some assistance to some of the programs we already have in town, whether it’s the DeviceShop, whether it’s Enterprise Center of Johnson County, whether it’s doing some entrepreneurial assistance on their own and tell us what applicant, tell us what that looks like, what does that mean to you. And I think that’s an open-ended question.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: But that isn’t giving like Westlink a hundred percent of their, for say, just to pay for four buildings through a cycle period --
MR. NAVE: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: -- when there’s one company involved that owns them. That’s several companies involved.
MR. NAVE: Right. Again, and this is designed for an employer. Again, they have to be located within the NAICS codes of a high growth industry, so no, I would not anticipate this -- this wouldn’t be eligible for a development or a developer, a multi-tenant.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Right. Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: What if -- and obviously our goal is to get commitments from employers that would be [inaudible], but not a lot of employers want to buy. And obviously from an investment perspective, so if I look at an employer that said, hey, I’ll sign a 15-year lease on that building but the numbers don’t work, can we tweak that so that an investor can come to us and we see that three-year benefit if we get a ten-year commitment from an employer to go in that building? Because in effect we accomplish the same thing, but not everybody wants to own real estate.
MR. NAVE: Or they come to the lease assistance program which addresses that to some degree.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Okay. Well, then just tell them to hold off. I’ll go back to [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: So, the comment I’ve got is, and I don’t know that I want to narrow it down to four categories. You know, I mean, we’re limiting ourselves and I don’t think we’re at the point that we can do that, that we just want IT guys or something like that.
MR. NAVE: Well, the thought being that, no, in each of those four broad categories those are very broad. There’s hundreds and hundreds of companies that would fall within those NAICS code. Within a three-digit NAICS code there’s actually six. So, it could be that each of those categories could be very, very broad. But the philosophy or the strategy was to encourage those that are really going to have an impact, you know, really going to expand long-term rather than incentivizing the furniture manufacturer that did that. Really what’s going to happen long-term for the global economy in the long-run is that --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Well, I’m not disagreeing. I’m just saying I don’t know that we want to minimize it.
MR. NAVE: And we may not have the right mix, Dan. We might need to be tweaking what are those four? What are those right mixes? We’ve got the four that we’re proposing to you, again from that Regional Prosperity at a Crossroads report that the Brookings Institute did their analysis on. These are the four sectors in Kansas City in the Kansas City Metropolitan area that have the potential of both in terms of organic growth, in terms of employment growth.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: And it is amazing that we have this opportunity to [inaudible] step up [inaudible].
MR. NAVE: Point well made. We might need to be tweaking that.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, it doesn’t need to be limited to high growth industries. It could be targeting high growth industry companies, but open to where we so deemed appropriate for that type of assistance.
MR. NAVE: And as you know, at the bottom of the Policy Statement 65, there’s always the conveyance that whatever is the will of the Council. So, all of these programs can be tweaked to some degree or another with -- at you guys’ discretion.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. It’s only a policy.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I agree with Eric on the wording. You know, if you word it that you’re not limited to those, but you’re targeting these NAICS codes. You know, if we don’t say limited to that, then that leaves you open that when a guy calls up and he’s outside that and he’s brand new, next year, brand new industry, we can maybe offer him something.
MR. NAVE: And bear in mind, well, that’s the high growth industry focus is the highest level. That doesn’t mean that somebody that might fall out of that particular category wouldn’t still be eligible for the 1½ percent because they’re a new business to Shawnee, irrespective of their industry. So, it doesn’t preclude them from any benefit, it’s just it’s that the highest level of benefit.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: You can get a reduced benefit for him.
MR. NAVE: I’m sorry?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It would be a lower benefit.
MR. NAVE: It would be a lower benefit for sure.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yeah. I just wanted to address Councilmember Jenkins’ [inaudible] based on what you said. And I think I completely agree because I think the thinking behind this is that these incentives can definitely be relevant to multiple industries. But the thinking was just that we obviously had a void when it came to particular industries, especially with kind of the start-up arena and high tech where, you know, this was targeted to them. So, definitely I think we can tweak the wording. But the idea was sort of as you said have this targeted towards those industries and be able to provide something that’s more kind of relevant for them and the kind of diversity of the programs that we offer. So, by all means it would definitely improve that.
MR. NAVE: I have a couple of examples of how this program might apply in the Property Tax Assistance Program, and I think I breezed over it quickly before. But again, this could be somebody for acquiring, purchasing an existing building in Shawnee, which is the gap we have right now. Right now we have a tool if a company comes and wants to build a new building and we have the property tax abatement tool. We can help them do that. If they come in and want to buy an existing building [inaudible] we have a tool that can really address that. So, this is one again that I’d want to attempt to look at that. Or it could be for construction, too. It may be the size of the project, our minimum investment criteria for property tax abatement is $1.5 million. Maybe they’re going to build small buildings. So this again this [inaudible] tool would be used for smaller projects.
So, these are just two examples. Again, existing building. Just kind of try to throw two examples at you. So, take for example the Bank Midwest building out in western Shawnee. It’s about 5,000 square feet which would, and I think there’s five dedicated offices in that building today. There’s a [inaudible] in area. So, I just drew an estimate if maybe there’s eight people working there at $45,000 a year, that would give an annual payroll of $360,000 a year. The current taxes, as I pulled them up yesterday and today, are right at $50,000 a year. So, over a three-year period, again at that 100/75/50 that scale that would be $112,000 of benefit that we’d pay over that three-year period. And essentially what does that get us? That helps us get an employer that bought that building that’s generating $360,000 in payroll and wealth in our community over those three years. And it’s already on the tax rolls, so it wasn’t a tax abatement kind of thing. But somebody is now generating that kind of payroll in our community each year.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: I’ve got a problem doing this with banks. You know, we’re a bank city. They’re coming to us because this is where they want to be. And then if you want to give them incentive to get more in here?
MR. NAVE: Yeah. And this is just the Bank Midwest building which is vacant now, so I used it as an existing building example.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Because the bank owns it.
MR. NAVE: I know. And it very well might be --
[Inaudible; Councilmembers talking over one another]
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Exclude banks.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Exclude banks.
MR. NAVE: And then another example for newer office buildings, again --
[Inaudible; Councilmembers talking over one another]
MR. NAVE: -- estimates of payroll and that type of thing, taxes. So, you know, a larger building, that [inaudible] is going to be a bit larger.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, I agree over the last few years with a program like this, the Perceptive building, finding the people that [inaudible] some pretty good prospects on that building this would have been a pretty good hook.
MR. NAVE: I don’t necessarily think this program would have been a good hook. Again, remember this is -- look at the three years.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Well, I understand that. But it’s an existing building.
MR. NAVE: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, if you get someone looking at the tax roll on that building.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: The larger SEED program we currently have is our big hook, so this would be a hook for smaller employers.
[Inaudible; Councilmembers talking amongst themselves]
MR. NAVE: You just pick the base number [inaudible] so [inaudible] 100,000 square feet. The way the map [inaudible] -- the employer that’s going to fill up that building just because of its size is going to generate --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: [inaudible]
MR. NAVE: But we do have a gap where maybe the company doesn’t have ten employees, which is the minimum criteria for the Forgivable Loan. Maybe they are buying a building, but they’re not, you know, they’re not constructing. So, there’s a gap here that I think this Property Tax Assistance Program is going to be the tool.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: I’m curious. In your first example there that payroll doesn’t necessarily come back to Shawnee. I mean, yeah, it’s possible they could purchase lunch here, but that’s not a real earnings. I mean, the Property tax, yes, we will -- the property tax, like they’ll pay that. If they construct a new building they’re already paying it on the vacant building, aren’t they?
MR. NAVE: You’re absolutely right. Yeah. This isn’t a fiscal analysis in terms of the fiscal effect. The economic benefit I was trying to capture there is intrinsic. You’re absolutely right. Eight employers at $45,000 a job, that’s creates $360,000 worth of payroll. Is all of that money being spent in Shawnee? No.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
MR. NAVE: A chunk of it is, so that was trying to capture that. Not so much the fiscal on that, yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Okay. I would be curious to see if we could get some kind of estimate on what this does bring in. Because like I said I know one of the provisions, I can’t remember which program has the 25 percent provision, if that’s the loan -- I guess that’s the Forgivable Loan part that has the 25 percent, need to be Shawnee residents. But the others I don’t think have that stipulation. So with the others, in theory, all 100 percent of that could be living outside of Shawnee not paying, I mean because we don’t have an income tax, so they’re not --
MR. NAVE: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: We don’t really know how much of that is coming back.
MR. NAVE: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: [inaudible] state law.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Yeah. There you go. Right. But I’m just kind of curious, because like I said we can calculate the cost fairly easily, but I’d be curious if there was something that we could do --
MR. NAVE: No. You absolutely hit on that key point that capturing the fiscal benefit of these is a lot more difficult. But we do do that for you when we propose a property tax abatement tool. You’ve seen those.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
MR. NAVE: And if you’ve seen things out in [inaudible] --
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
MR. NAVE: Maureen and I have discussed on a semi-regular basis to do that.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: The feasibility studies.
MR. NAVE: And kind of the feasibility studies. The challenge we have here on a one-off basis, first of all the SEED program is only three years old.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
MR. NAVE: So, we’ve only had a couple companies really go through one or two for brief periods, so we’re just now getting to the point where we have some reviewable data that we really [inaudible] can make some determinations on. But we would want to do that on a semi-regular basis, but still on an annual basis on every single employer with I don’t know how much data that would share with you in terms of the fiscal impact. It’s something we should do on a semi-regular basis.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: All right. Thank you.
MR. NAVE: So, those are the two examples for the Property Tax Assistance Program.
And, Jeff, your question about what if a company comes in and they’re not building some new buildings, so property tax abatement maybe isn’t the right tool. They’re not going to purchase a small building, so the previous component maybe wouldn’t be helpful. They’re only going to lease. So, the Lease Assistance Program is another tool, another component that we drafted and proposed. I think this one really meets the need and the niche for entrepreneurship. Many of our small start-ups and our smaller entrepreneurs are starting out. They’re not going to build. They’re not going to buy a building. They’re going to come in and rent some space, and oftentimes a small space. And we don’t have a good tool right now as it stands to address that. So, also looking at targeting high growth as a level of benefit, targeting high growth. But more scalable to the [inaudible]. And this is really limited to and looking at companies that have ten or fewer employees. Again, the SEED program, the existing Forgivable Loan Program starts at ten jobs. We only have that good tool beneath that. We do have the SBA tool. And that other company can use the SBA financing. For several projects with some of our smaller companies that have looked at that and say, yeah, I’m bootstrapping this thing. I’m truly an entrepreneur. I can’t go to the bank and get a loan yet. I’m not to that point, so an SBA loan doesn’t do me any good. I really need some other assistance. So, this is really more of an entrepreneurial focus.
The benefit would be looking at that annualized lease payment. So, what is that annual lease payment that they’re -- if they’re moving into a space, if they’re, you know, kind of subletting an office from a landlord, what is that lease agreement, what is that least payment. We’ve been looking at it for three years. We kind of went back and forth on what that term is, but we kind of settled on three years is kind of that tried and true metric. If a business has really gotten off the ground in three years, they stand a good chance. There’s many that don’t make it to that standpoint. But three years is oftentimes a good metric.
We’re also looking at less than ten employees. How can we make it scalable for those really small companies. So, what we’ve landed on that made some sense is for two employees, a small benefit because it’s obviously clearly the smaller size of the company, a smaller number of employment impact, smaller economic impact that is going out. That two employees would be at an offset of 20 percent of their lease expense. So, they share with us what is their annualized lease rate, what is their annual lease payment and we look at 20 percent of that amount. For three to five employees it would scale up to a little bit higher level. As they grow in employment we’ll try to scale up with them. And then six to ten employees would be 30 percent.
We would look at seeking what are those lease rates, share with us your lease documents and then making sure that that’s within market rates. We wouldn’t certainly want something that’s out of the ordinary or out of the realm of what’s a fair lease rate in the market. And then certainly all of these components have a commitment to an agreement that any of these agreements that we’re going to have with a company that’s public money, so we’re going to have them commit to an actual agreement and there’s going to be measurements and there’s clawbacks included. So, that’s certainly part of a Lease Assistance Program as well.
Two examples, again, of the Lease Assistance Program. Again, at the top you can kind of see the scalability and kind of the benefit. For a start I just threw a couple of examples at you. For two employees, $45,000 a year is $270,000 of new payroll over three years. A two employee firm might rent 850 square feet. You know, we often look at 200, 250. It used to be 300 square feet per person per employee. That’s not really the number anymore. But always a common area is just for the sake of argument, 850 square feet. You’re looking at $15,000 of an annual rent. $18 a square foot is right in the meaty part of the curve for what our office rent rates are in Shawnee right now. So, the benefit would be $3,000 per year or $9,000 a year total. Again, looking at that for two employees at that 20 percent level, 20 percent of the 15,000 is about $3,000.
An expanding tech firm. This one gets a little more complicated, but looking at a company that has six employees, but is going to grow to ten over the three years, so they have six, then they have eight, then they have ten. So, their payroll kind of scales up. That’s why the 1.8 number is a little bit higher. Their payroll scales up as they grow which is what we want them to do. But they’re renting 3,000 square feet, so they’re going, you know, roughly have $54,000 in annual lease expenses. Again, using that scalability of 20 percent, 25, 30 percent as they scale up on employment, that would be a little over $16,000 a year for the Lease Assistance Program. Again, this is something -- it’s not giving tax abatement. They can’t quite get eligible for the existing SEED Forgivable Loan Program because they don’t have ten employees, so they’re smaller than that. This program would provide some assistance for that company [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yes. I just want to make a few comments, just some background on this. I started working with Andrew, with City Manager Gonzales in I think earlier this past summer. Some ideas I had, some ideas that were already existing, so it’s a collaboration coming together, looking at some ways -- more creating uses of the SEED funds that we have to ensure that we were reaching some of the high tech, high growth startup industries in the Kansas City Metropolitan area. And two items that both of these programs are predicated on, just so you know, both the Property Tax Assistance Program, the lease program are -- the knowledge -- there’s actually data from the Kauffman Foundation and Enterprise Center of Johnson County that on average a startup across industries does not achieve profitability until the first year after they receive their initial Angel tax investment. And that usually will occur six months to twelve months after the company is incorporated. So, essentially you’re talking about on average two years from the time an idea comes to fruition to be developed before a startup is ready to proceed in terms of looking at office space. So, that’s the basis for the Property Assistance Program for those start-ups that are looking at being able to purchase property within the City as well as the office -- as well as the Lease Assistance Program. The other issue is that after talking to Melissa Roberts at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County, after talking to numerous start-up founders that I’m in contact with, by far the biggest response I get is the most significant expense a start-up has during year one and year two of incorporation is office rent by far. And often they are with initial investment they’re getting through Angel funding and then first round investing and second round, all that is going into their product and to their service to drive, go to market. So, it becomes very difficult to get out of the garage, get out of the basement that they’re working out of to be able to get into an office. But the sooner they can get into an office and become more viable, they become more visible and it helps them get onto the road to being able to be a sustainable company and be part of the community. So, just so you know both of those statistics, both of those common -- were common issues that we’ve heard time and time again, and both of those were incorporated into the basis for these two programs, so to kind of let you know the science behind it. Numerous people know the start-up side, but I [inaudible] on a daily basis.
There is a huge opportunity I think for this City to be able to provide and fill a void in that arena there. More and more cities are looking at unique ways that they can be able to grow those industries and that’s something that’s really lacking right now. I talked to people on the Missouri side as well as the Kansas side and there’s a lot of marketability around us, being able to go and pitch this, including several start-ups, I know personally that are right on the verge of trying to decide am I ready for office space, where do I want to go, and might not know -- without any indication of where they want to start.
So, just a little bit of background about the program. And, of course, I know Andrew is happy to answer any questions. But if anybody has any questions about the start-up arena, kind of the basis for this, I’m happy to answer this as well.
MR. NAVE: And let me make a couple [inaudible] thoughts and that’s what we want to hear. I mean, we do this -- I do this every day, but to hear kind of the different components and different expertise that you all bring [inaudible]. I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. I would just, Andrew, I like the idea obviously of the SEED program. I think that it has done well. I really applaud this as expanding it, making it even more -- putting more tools in our toolbox if you will, and I’m sure that they will continue to generate the success we’ve already enjoyed.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff and then Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, and I understand our focus obviously is start-up industry, but with that is peripheral businesses, the service end. So, you know, where my mind is going is as I look at Nieman Road, I look at our town square zoning district and we have space available there. I mean, I even have available across the street where’s She’s a Pistol is at. There’s two empty spaces there. I don’t know if Dan is full or not in his building. We’ve got the corner where the 7-11 was. We need to [inaudible] our spaces properly. What if a law firm with six attorneys wanted to move into the town square zone, do we say, no, we can’t give you this benefit because you’re not a tech firm, or do we kind of -- because we want that type of business so bad in our downtown, we kind of look at loosening it up a little bit as an incentive for the people in our downtown area and they look at maybe a broader spectrum of professional services, or do we just focus on tech industries?
MR. NAVE: Professional services is one of the four proposed NAICS Code categories if you will, in legal services.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, accounting and --
MR. NAVE: Yeah. Again, just reiterate, transportation and warehouse, which again is that kind of intermodal focus that the Kansas City region seems to be doing so well with, intermodal and we’ve already reached a number of successes there. Information, which isn’t just IT, but a lot of things of information. Could be publishing, could be marketing, all falls with the information of the NAICS Code. Finance and insurance certainly covers a wide gamut of employers in that NAICS Code. And then professional services is everything from legal to engineering to different types of consulting. And there’s a slew of companies that would fall under those four NAICS. These four NAICS categories would cover literally hundreds and hundreds of different employers.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And the only thing I would say is, because I do think anything we can do to incentivize our downtown, and I don’t know if we want to put more teeth into it, and I think we can just say town square, within that town square zoning district, put a little bit more teeth into it or put a little bit added incentive because I mean I think that’s what we’re [inaudible]. As offices open up all over the place I think, you know, [inaudible].
MR. NAVE: [Inaudible] because again under the spec building program we’re trying to redefine and better quantify that spec building incentive. We also kind of tweaked the language there by you can see spec building occupant or area targeted for rezoning, which I clearly see as the NRA district. So, we have kind of modified that spec building incentive to now add to not just something that’s going into a spec building, but maybe something that’s going into one of our target areas, so we have [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: And, Jeff, and forgive me if I say it’s back to that kind of substitute [inaudible] just because that’s what I work in.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Oh, no, that’s fine.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: By no means is that exclusive because I think building this out we’re looking at biosciences and we looked at legal services. We looked at different types of information services, so it’s definitely all-encompassing of those as well. I tend to just say tech since that’s what I --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: No. I didn’t want that [inaudible] because I think everybody’s goal is we need earners in our downtown. We need $80,000 salaries to get up and walk out that door and go to lunch, 90,000, $100,000 salaries.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric, did you have something?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yes. I just had a couple real small things just for clarification on the actual policy statement. And the first one was B.1, which is Shawnee Entrepreneurial and Economic Development SEED Program under the SEED Forgivable Loan Program, Item F. And it talks about, “Validation of achieving payroll and job creation goals will be provided by an Annual Certification. Additional specific requirements will be based on the criteria established and set out in the Agreement.” And I just -- I kind of was concerned that you were taking out a source for them to verify that with, that uses a certification basis and now we have no real basis per se, and that kind of bothered me a little bit.
MR. NAVE: Yeah. And that harkens back to when we originally created this program. This program, as you saw earlier in the policy statement, the KEOIF program. The state’s KEOIF program was a tool that was eliminated actually in 2012. When we created this program, a few months later they eliminated their program. And that was a component that they looked for in the KEOIF program, of disclosing that KNCS. What we’ve run into, Eric, is that that form is very difficult to get from the employers because it has a lot of confidential information on those employees. Oftentimes on the form it specifies who those new employees are and oftentimes their Social Security numbers. We’ve looked at protecting that and how can we disclose that and it became --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, what you’re --
MR. NAVE: It became way more cumbersome that even asking them to disclose their wage information, but asking them to disclose that form even redacted became very, very cumbersome.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, we’re not going to have any actual basis for their annual certification other than whatever we put in the agreement. We’ll put in there you’ve got to certify this. But that’s kind of a self-certification at that point by the employer.
MR. NAVE: It is, yes, sir.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And I guess we could all say we’re all good folks and we’re all going to be honest and all that kind of stuff. I don’t know. But it does leave it open. It would be nice if we could kind of tighten that down a little bit. I’d feel more comfortable about that.
MR. NAVE: We explored several ways to do that. And again, finding that balance between, you know, assuring that the public resources are protected and accounted for, but then also that sensitivity with, again, we’re trying to convince companies to come here and not have it be overly burdensome and overly difficult [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. Part of the issue though is this is public money. If it was my money and I’m making a business deal with somebody and I shake hands and we make a deal or whatever that’s one thing. I’m going to bite the bullet and a guy takes advantage of me, but we’re using somebody else’s money to do this, the citizens’ money. I believe they’d like to know we have some kind of way to hold their feet to the fire. This is the numbers that we’re giving us and that’s my concern there. The only other concern I have is when we -- when I mentioned a little earlier about that fourth year, and I think since we’re here for discussion we probably ought to discuss that. And I would like to see it dropped to 25 percent. I know you can probably argue keeping it to 50 or whatever. But the fact of the matter is they’re already committed at this point. Hey, and we’ll give you a little more help. We’ll give you another 25 percent in that fourth year, but I don’t see giving them 50 percent again. I mean, by this time they’re already committed. It’s almost a freebie at that point anyway.
MR. NAVE: One thing I want to speak to on the first comment you made about kind of disclosures and kind of verification. We do have in each of the agreements that we have, we have provisions in that agreement that for whatever reason we're not comfortable with the information they've disclosed, or we’re led to believe that that information isn’t completely accurate, all of the agreements, and I’m looking at Maureen, I’m pretty sure all of the agreements have the version of where we can go in and audit. We have audit abilities capabilities to look in and say, hey, you need to disclose to us more information about those wages and are you meeting that wage standard because it is the public’s money. So, I know that we have it embedded in the agreements.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: We have a hook in there. Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I like to hear that. It sounds good.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: You know, is it possible to do a third-party verification? In all honesty, you know, on a $13,000 benefit or 16,000 it doesn’t make sense because I think the cost for a third-party verification is going to be as much if we’re doing a $100,000 benefit or 50,000-plus. I don’t know what it costs, but I know we could do a third-party audit that they would disclose to a, you know, similar to a CPA firm or something -- whatever.
MR. NAVE: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But where they disclose that information. That information, you know, has the contract date disclosed to us, yes, they meet these requirements, but that information never becomes public. So, at least we have -- and there would be a cost associated.
MR. NAVE: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, obviously, I mean, I think if it’s a $20,000 benefit, I think we’re just going to have to -- because I think it’s even when you look at it you get this one employee added it doesn’t make sense to spend the money. But, you know, to Eric’s point, if we’re giving someone a hundred grand, I think they should be fine kicking up four, five, six thousand. I don’t know what it costs. Would it cost five grand, I don’t know. But if we contract with somebody, you know, what would it cost for them. I mean, I think for them to put out five percent of that in a third-party audit to verify their information is almost like what a CPA does. I don’t know. I mean, is that feasible or --
MR. NAVE: I’d have to explore more in terms of what those audits look like and who does that and then what not. But I think it goes with the notion that we’re already looking at on a semi-regular basis we need to be reviewing this. We need to be reviewing is this program working. Is it creating the job that the company is committed to. Are they paying the wages that they claim to.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But I think more, I mean, I think those audits we can do something internally. I think on the initial application thought when someone is coming in saying, I mean, you look at Clarence Kelly. If we have 180 jobs, this is going to be our payroll, you know, we don’t like what you’re saying. They don’t want to disclose that information to us, we’ll disclose to a third-party auditor on that. That’s totally private. It’s totally secure. And then they come to us with a report that says, yes, what they’re saying is true or it meets your parameters. No numbers are disclosed, details, and that company pays for that. I think, like I said, on a smaller one I don’t, I mean, if you’re taking -- if 25 percent of your benefit is eaten up in an audit it’s kind of silly, it’s like what’s the point. And I think they’re small enough we can get our head around those. But then the really big ones we should look at in dollar amounts. This is, okay, you’re going to have to -- that’s big enough that we’re going to have to get a third-party opinion. And it takes the heat off of you guys. What you’re saying is staff reviews that. You know, I think reviewing a smaller one, great. But on the really big ones it kind of takes the pressure away from you and gets third-party eyes on it that say, no, you’re good. There’s no backlash.
MR. NAVE: I do know at the state level there are entities that do that. Whether they’re accounting firms or consulting firms I know there are groups that do that on a state basis. And again, I want to speak on a semi-regular basis. I don’t know that they do them every single year, but they do do them. So, yeah, I know it’s done. It's something we can certainly take a look at.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: On the big dollar amount.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Actually point one, actually to Councilmember Vaught’s point. There’s a number of companies in Kansas City that are background screening firms that do employment verification and they offer that as a standalone service. One of those is actually owned by a Shawnee resident, so I can inquire further about that. But I think there’s a number of options. I think that’s probably a great idea, more things to do. And I think it would be cost effective and probably a reasonable cost if you were getting that look because it wouldn’t be looking at running background checks on [inaudible]. So, but there are a number, I know of several.
So, the second point. Actually Councilmember Jenkins’ point. Originally, essentially when we were talking about this, I think for year four we had it at 25 percent. I know that’s what [inaudible], I’m totally fine with that. Actually talked with City Manager Gonzales about this a couple days ago, about the 25 percent figure, so that’s -- that we had the step-down approach if that makes sense.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Just a more general comment and then I have a specific comment. I’m pretty supportive of the concept of keeping things in that three or four-year window. I think it’s a little bent out of shape on some of these 20-year abatements and stuff like that. We’re providing all these services and everything to these companies as well and they’re getting a free ride all this time and maybe we’re going to get something out of them 20 years from now if they don’t say, sorry, I’m moving to Lenexa or something at the end of 20 years. But these three or four-year deals, I mean, I think that’s within the realm of getting -- where you get some kind of return on it pretty soon. In the three or four years we helped these guys out they become good businesses here in Shawnee and for the next 30 years they’re paying their taxes and employing people and spending money with other businesses in Shawnee and so on, so this just makes a lot more sense.
MR. NAVE: Again, [inaudible] you don’t get a win by two touchdowns, you’ve got to just break the top.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It’s much less onerous than sitting here, you know, giving this guy whatever for 20 years. That’s a lot.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Yeah. I was going -- I was looking around at the Council here and I think it’s actually pretty unique to us that we have so many on the Council that have actually started up a business. I think that actually positions our Council really well to discuss this topic. Did you start your business, Dan? So, Dan started his, Eric did, I did, Jeff did. Mickey, yours has been in your family for a while.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: And I started one also.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I started one.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: So, I just wanted to point that out. In general, this Council understands some of the difficulties of starting a business because it’s not always fun. Second, I guess I’ll apologize to you guys because you’ve heard me complain about these all the time and you roll your eyes and you sit here and you get to listen to it a bunch, so I’ll get it out of the way again. I don’t really debate the effectiveness of this program because when you hand out free money it’s got to be effective. I imagine I would be tempted by it as well. So, I don’t really debate whether this is effective or not. Really for me it’s more the scope of government. I like Jeff’s idea on the excise tax abatement because it’s not handing out money, it’s just not collecting a tax and it’s pretty much universal to anyone that wants to come in and plot the land. I like that. Whereas, I feel like this Forgivable Loan is kind of us deciding who gets the free money and it is us handing it out, at least for the Loan Forgiveness part. So, there is my complaint out of the way. And I realize I’m on the minority there, so that’s fine.
Some of the things I’ve complained about in the past, and maybe we can actually address them here going forward, is on the Forgivable Loan. Under the requirements we have 25 percent of new hires are Shawnee residents. I like that because you can -- that’s a hard thing to verify. Hard as in it’s not soft. You can verify 25 percent are or 25 percent are not. I’ve always complained about the wording of the next two points on page 11, the beginning of page 12, “Significant use of Shawnee-based or partnering contractors.” I would love us to actually define what “significant” means because it might be different to different parties. And I feel like if we’re going to go in there and try to get money back on a clawback, it would be better if we were -- if we have some definitive number we could argue as opposed to whether it was significant or not. And the very next line we use “substantial.” And like I said I feel like that’s up to interpretation. So, I would love to strengthen those or to possible get a real, sorry, not a real definition, but just a definition that’s more solid on both of those two points. So, that’s kind of point one.
Point two. These clawback provisions, in the Forgivable Loan section, it seems like we basically say we either -- we are either going to do one of two things. Preclude future payments or ask for money back. And what I don’t get is if Jeff and I both got one of these and he failed and I failed, and on me you just didn’t give me any new money, but on him you didn’t give him new money and asked for money back, how does -- it kind of looks like we’re somewhat schizophrenic. We’re giving me one punishment and him a different. And I would like to basically have one punishment here on the clawback. If we basically could agree that, okay, on the Forgivable Loan, if you don’t meet it at this point, and so, you know, my recommendation would be if we’re going to do a clawback, then let’s just say we’re going, like I said, whatever the Council wants to do. But as long as they’re -- I think if we had one option, if you fail, this is what happens. It’s better than the “and/or” because then, like I said, people could complain of unfair treatment. And it seems like to some degree the clawback provision on the next one with the loan without the fees says repay all or a portion. So once again we’ve had this “or” language added in there where you could -- the City gets to decide if you’re a good guy or a bad guy and maybe you do one, maybe you do the other. Same with the Lease Assistance Program on the clawback, we have all or a portion, same on the Tax Assistance. So, I would like to see us maybe get to codify or just get the clawbacks down to one specific punishment as opposed to giving us options for punishments.
MR. NAVE: Well, I can speak to that. I think both of them kind of speak to this issue, Mike, and then it relates around to the subjectivity or objectivity of this policy. And I think it does speak to what we’re trying to do at this point. We’re trying to recruit. We’re trying to incentivize. We’re trying to encourage an action to happen. We’re trying to get these companies to happen. Different than whether it’s maybe a zoning or a regulatory issue from more of an objective standpoint. So, we struggle with that. We discussed it internally as, you know, what is that right balance. Again, we’re trying to encourage that to happen. We’re trying to encourage these actions to take place, so that’s why we have the subjectivity of it. Admittedly it is very subjective. I think there’s a difference between a company coming in and creating the number of jobs that they said, but maybe they missed their average payroll by just a few hundred dollars a year, or the company came in and you know what, they just got -- lost a big contract, but another contract is right around the corner. There’s always an excuse, there’s always a rationale, but I think it is subjective in terms of the qualifications of, again, of an incentive program, what we're trying to get them to do. We’re trying to recruit them and gain more of their investment, more of their capital in our community, so that’s -- we left it subjective there because of that nature. We’re trying to be open-ended and accommodating. We’re also trying to -- we try to balance with the clawbacks. We try to balance the level of just the oversight and the agreements and just how much regulatory oversight these have. Again, trying to be that more sales oriented, trying to encourage that investment. But that’s something we can certainly look at. Whether it’s -- are there situations and opportunities and instances where we need to be a little more defined, I think we need to type those up. But we did talk about the subjective nature of the local contributions, and mainly because it’s also an additional incentive. It’s an additional perk, it’s an additional benefit. And because of that, you know, what one company might invest in in terms of building a building maybe they don’t need a local contract. Or we have one local contractor [inaudible] construction based in -- you know what I mean? So, it’s that -- I need to just buy supplies so there’s less opportunity for me to do that. So, because of the nature of what we’re trying to encourage is subjective we are trying to leave it subjective.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, I agree. But maybe it would be better to have an appeals process or something like that. Have a black and white, but there is always an appeal, so we could consider extenuating circumstances or something like that. But that way at least you’ve got a solid foundation and if something does happen you gave the guys money to set up their new buggy whip company over here. And doggone nobody has got any carriages anymore so they can’t sell a buggy whip anywhere and that didn’t work out. But, you know, it could be a lot of different things.
MR. NAVE: Absolutely.
[Inaudible; Councilmembers talking over one another]
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And I know that’s where you’re coming from. But having an appeals process, okay, here is what happened. We think if you give us a break here we can get it back on track and we’ll be right back in here in another six months or something [inaudible] here’s a way to handle that, you know, instead of just leaving [inaudible] up front. I don’t know. That’s just a thought. I’m not stuck on [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Dan.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I would -- I agree with Mr. Vaught. I think there’s --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Quick, write this down.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: And the time.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: What’s it, 7:12?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Well, it’s basically the idea, you know, whatever we can do to help individuals downtown. I still think we have some major issues. I don’t know what you want to call it, but we definitely need help down there. We've tried to outline stuff and we’ve got a little bit of stuff going, but we’re a long ways from being there, so.
MR. NAVE: Case in point, you know, with the NRA tool we have a couple different components of that tool and it’s done some good. It’s really made some good investments where folks have fixed up building facades and made some new investments in property, but there’s certainly more to go, but maybe there’s other opportunities where maybe they’re not making that huge investment in their building, but they’re bringing employment. So, it’s probably smart to have a wide variety of tools.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: We need to refer to that as something different. No, we really do. NRP, Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: I get confused, too.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I have had so many people say what the hell does the NRA have to do with downtown rebuilding. And I’m like, well, you know, I went, yeah. We should refer to that as NRP.
MR. NAVE: Yeah. [Inaudible] downtown property.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
[Inaudible; Councilmembers talking over one another]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Maybe our Communications Department can help us re-brand it.
MR. NAVE: [inaudible] somebody meets a plan that I can stick to.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Like I said, swear to god, I have so many people, well, what does the NRA have to do with --
MR. NAVE: Yeah. I know.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: We’re going to have to go through an appeals process.
MR. NAVE: Other questions? Thank you very much.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Thank you, Andrew. All right. Is there any further discussion from the Council? Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: I’d just like to allude to one thing based on what Councilmember Jenkins said. I think it would be great based on if there are issues with compliance in terms of the job creation that we can be informed with those, so we can have some insight as those are happening as a governing body so that as we progress we can look at whether or not those need to be tightened up a bit if it becomes an issue. It may not be an issue with these additional programs, but it would be good going forward to have insight into that so that on a case-by-case basis we have insight into that. I think that makes this point, one, does the governing body, when there are questions [inaudible] about that. So, how do we know how best to incorporate that, but I think that would be good [inaudible].
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Some of those items we’d look at in our Economic Development report, albeit I’m not sure that it would reach to that level, but that’s really our job to make it [inaudible] to you all and the public and report on the progress of all of our [inaudible]. So, [inaudible] that. Incentives in that report [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: All right. And then probably just kind of an update, you know, with some of those sentences, you know, depending on how often, whether it would be quarterly or, you know, twice a year. And again, this all speculation. We don’t know when and how and whether or not there’s going to be issues that come up like that, compliance. But I think having that insight, you know, we can decide at that point, hey, we need to type this up, this may be an issue. And if not, then [inaudible], but it would be good to have that [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Is there anyone from the audience who would like to speak to this item? All right. Seeing none, the recommended action is to forward the policy statement to the January 11, 2016 City Council meeting for consideration by the Governing Body.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: So moved.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: And before that we do that, Andrew, Carol, do you all feel like you have comments and feedback from us enough to kind of know?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. That’s what I was kind of wondering. So, I have before we make a motion then a couple of the things that we looked at were the verification of salaries, the 25 percent in the fourth year, some kind of measurable criteria and the clawback provisions that maybe we want to touch on firming up.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: To standardize that clawback provision.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. So, I am just going down the list. Are we good with looking at some kind of third-party verification or -- yes? Looking into that?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, if we establish a threshold for what level of commitment we’ve got.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, the second -- yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Well, and then on that point. If it’s a, you know, if it’s a hundred thousand dollar deal or something like that, I don’t necessarily think that we should go out and have an auditor or whatever, but if we don’t feel that staff has gotten, you know, good permit data, then we should have an auditor. So, similar to what Andrew said. I mean we have an option to go in audit them at any given time.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I’d prefer to have it black and white if we’re going to do it. [Inaudible] without having to make a judgment.
(Inaudible; talking over one another)
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Oh, I think this number is right and this number is not right.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Do we say over a dollar amount or a not to exceed five --
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Why don’t we look at the cost related to it and I think -- I guess I would think that is more of an administrative thing that didn’t need to be included in this. But we do talk about the SEDC in that and [inaudible] can’t really direct the SEDC’s actions, so we may need to do that a little bit before we finalize this. But I’ve got the direction on that.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: They can encourage their action by unplugging their money.
MR. NAVE: Please don’t do that.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, the second item is the dropping to 25 percent in the fourth year that Eric mentioned. Are we all good with that?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Can I make a comment real quick? Eric said he was getting old and forgot stuff, but I’m forgetting stuff here too. I’m okay with that 25 percent. It seems to me what I’m reading here on page 13 is the fourth year you’re only eligible if you’re LEED certified. And that’s basically saying your building is energy sufficient to the degree that you get --
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: But for what degree of LEEDs because there’s several LEEDs.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And it’s a variety of things other than just LEED.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. I think there was a list.
MR. NAVE: And this somewhat follows what we’ve embedded in our Property Tax Abatement tool and that I thought we defined it as LEED or LEED-eligible because there are a number of certifications out there, many of them are leading with acronym ABC, all but certified. It means that they’ve had a third-party do the analysis that this would be eligible for LEED silver or LEED gold or LEED-certified, but they don’t pay the U.S. Rebuilding Council for their stamp so to speak. So, I thought we had put that in there.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And Paragraph C, Andrew. And truly I think LEED is not the only criteria there. It goes on to read, “Provides access to or dedicated right-of-way for multi-modal transit,” and these are just examples that are provided.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: But these are all -- but they need to all be met, right?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I think just one.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: No.
MR. NAVE: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Just one.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Oh, they just need to meet -- I guess I didn’t see the “or.” You’re right. It’s or. I’m sorry.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: On page 13, Paragraph 3(c).
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Okay. We’re good.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: I thought it was and, not or. Sorry.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, are we good with the 25 percent in the fourth year then? Yes. Okay. Thank you. The third is looking at firming up the criteria for the additional local contribution to something more measurable than significant or substantial. Thoughts on that?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, Mike, what do you think? Campaign [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: But a building [inaudible].
MR. NAVE: And again, the purpose of leaving that subjective was the nature of that a small entity that’s creating 10 jobs or 15 jobs. Contributions they will make are the vendors, suppliers that they can hire is going to be dramatically different than somebody that’s obviously larger. So, we discussed a percentage. And then again at some point it gets to the level of complexity that is it doing what it intended to do? Is it doing -- is it encouraging that [inaudible]. That’s where we kind of [inaudible] focus.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, are we good with some ambiguity there with that classification?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I’m fine with it. I think if we get too drilled, and we’ve talked about this before, we get too drilled down on Shawnee, it’s hard to quantify number one. And two is we don’t have, I mean it’s not like -- I mean, Kansas City, Kansas has, you know, in their agreements the preferential treatment to -- what’s it called.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Prevailing wage.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Prevailing wage. But anyway, if you’re in KCK or if you’re Wyandotte County, you know, a contractor you get an extra, you know, [inaudible]. It’s massive and it’s very controversial.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Is that going somewhere [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. No. The problem I think we have in Shawnee is we don’t have the -- when we start focusing on it we don’t have that base of necessary companies to pull from and, you know, if there’s only one, well, then he’s in a pretty good position to kind of control whatever he wants to do [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, we’re good with that. The last one I have is creating a uniform clawback provision rather than the flexible. Do we want to do that?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: You know, I’d say Andrew knows what to put together there.
MR. NAVE: Yeah. We can certainly take a look at some -- tweaking that. Whether it’s in this document or even in the agreements and maybe sharing more of that information with you all, what do those agreements specifically say. And I mean I’ll be a little hesitant to describe [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. For some reason it may be [inaudible]
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yeah. I’m reluctant to specify specifics. Because the smaller the company you’re going to have unique scenarios as they come up. But I think the answer to that is being able to have insight and oversight I should say as those cases come up. But I do [inaudible].
MR. NAVE: Leaning on staff and it appears -- Maureen reminds me that there’s also, where it’s not necessarily codified in the policy statement, but perhaps kind of what we’ve done with our agreements with the Forgivable Loan program is essentially two different payment methods. We have, one, which is the majority of the six participants that have taken advantage of is that up-front payment. Where we’ve expended that money. We have an agreement. Now, we’re looking at their annual review and annual forgiveness. The other one, we’ve had at least one or maybe two participants take advantage of is kind of a pay-as-you-go, which dramatically changes that review period in that clawback period. If we haven’t given them that benefit at all, then is there anything to necessarily claw back. So, that’s part of the reason for some of the ambiguity.
MS. ROGERS: And maybe that’s just kind of awkwardly written.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Yeah. I think if you’re going to go off of that you can specify no further payments if this. If bulk payment, then clawback here. I mean, you could say that specifically.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Could I make one more comment before the motion?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Make it.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: First give us the comment.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. How long is it?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: No. I just wanted to reiterate my thanks to City Manager Gonzales and Andrew Nave with the SEDC for all the work done on those and all the collaboration. It’s been a lot work coming together. It’s been encouraging to work with them. So, I really appreciate all the work that you do as well. And, Maureen, Finance and being able to identify and supply moving parts with that, so definitely an improvement [inaudible], so thank you for your contribution. I can’t say that enough.
And then just quickly want to draw attention, because I think Andrew highlighted, but it is a unique aspect of this program. Property Tax Assistance Program. The fourth year 25 percent optional benefit. That also includes whether the client that gives space to an Enterprise Center of Johnson County client or to a DeviceShop client or it gets funding. So, that’s a crucial element that’s often not covered for in these types of eco-dev benefit programs is the investment side. Starters that need investment capital or space and they’re not able to get that. So, being able to provide some assistance to companies that are actively helping out other companies in the community get started that just drives the success of our community, which I’m really glad to see that. It’s a [inaudible] program.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Good. All right. Given all of that we have the recommended action to move the policy statement forward to the January 11 City Council meeting for consideration by the Governing Body. I will accept a motion.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: So moved.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Second.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I have a motion and a second. All those in favor say aye.
COUNCILMEMBERS PFLUMM, NEIGHBOR, JENKINS, VAUGHT, MEYER, SANDIFER, KENIG: Aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Opposed nay.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Nay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. We have one nay vote, it is Councilmember Kemmling. And the motion passes. (Motion passes 7-1)
3. DISCUSS COUNCILMEMBER APPOINTMENT PROCESS.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. The third item is our perennial favorite, to Discuss the Councilmember Appointment Process. On February --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Move to adjourn.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: You are out of order.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Second.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: We have a motion and a second.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: The chair is in doubt. On February 3rd, 2015, the Council Committee discussed this item and asked staff to conduct further research for consideration. At the July 7th, 2015 Council meeting, staff provided follow-up information and asked for more time to research the issue due to a new election bill. The Committee directed staff to provide an update at the December 8, 2015 Council Committee meeting. Katie Killen, Assistant City Manager, will present additional information. Staff is seeking feedback and direction on several items which Katie will discuss during her presentation.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. Before we get too far with this I would really like to table this right now because of the fact that the legislative issue hasn’t been resolved. So, we’re kind of dangling at the end of a pendulum here without really knowing what the outcome of that is --
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: And we don’t have an election.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: -- and that makes it pretty hard to do anything without that. Pardon?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: And we don’t have an Election Commissioner to get any other answers from.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Right. So, I mean it’s just bad timing right now to do this. And I’m not trying to throw out the idea, I still want to discuss this, but I think we need to kick it down the road a little ways until such time as we can at least have access to some answers to some of the questions. Because right now this is just an exercise in futility. Tonight we’re going to put Katie through the paces. You can read all the stuff. And we’re still going to be scratching our head like I don’t have an answer to this. So, I’m just pointing out what the futility of all that is to do all that.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I’m not going to argue with you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: No. I would -- Eric, I agree with you wholeheartedly. We’ve beat this -- we’ve talked about it many, many times, but there are so many unknowns here that we could spend an hour talking about it and we would accomplish nothing and I would agree with you to table it.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I would agree.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Katie, are you dying to give this presentation?
MS. KILLEN: No.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Make a motion to table it.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Second.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Third.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. All right. I have a motion -- yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Do we table it till a certain date, or how are we going --
(Councilmembers talking amongst themselves)
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: What do you guys think? You want to give them -- when they’re going until at least the end of -- if they can accomplish it in this session.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: What, the end of session? That’s like next June.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, it may be, but we can’t answer questions till they do.
(Councilmembers talking amongst themselves)
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: See if it’s in committee at their mid-session and then we can always table it again.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. Mid-session may be all right. We’d have an idea.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, then March? We’ll say the March Council Committee meeting? The March 16th?
MS. KILLEN: Or do you want to wait till April?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’d be okay with April.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: When they’re on break? Yeah. That’s a good idea.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I think April is fine. This is not a hot issue that we have to have an answer to today anyway.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, they might decide it for us anyway.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, I have a motion to table until the April 16 Council Committee meeting and a second. All those in favor say aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Opposed nay. Motion passes. (Motion passes 8-0)
(Councilmembers talking amongst themselves)
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. The final item on tonight’s agenda is to Discuss --
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Councilmember Meyer. I’m sorry. I just want to correct that the Committee meeting is April 5th.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Yeah. So, the date specific.
MS. KILLEN: I think you said April 2016.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yes. I said 16. Yeah. Cool. All right. April 5th, 2016.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Okay.
4. DISCUSS THE 2016 STATE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: The final item on tonight’s agenda is to Discuss the 2016 State Legislative Program. Assistant City Manager Katie Killen will present information about issues and priorities for the 2016 State Legislative Program. Go ahead.
MS. KILLEN: Hurry up here. Okay. Just going to go over some background, just letting everyone to know that we’re getting to the point that we are [inaudible] a draft that is before you. I’ll talk about just some items that are on the horizon and I’m sure most of you are aware of these because I know you all stay very much informed with what’s going on with the state. And then finally just review those sections, talk through each of them tonight and let me know if any major modifications or any changes. Of course anything that you want to add, change you have an opportunity to do that tonight.
In terms of background, typically we start with the previous year’s legislative program that we had. We evaluate how legislation has passed the current -- the past year and then also kind of look at the current climate of what we’re hearing and attend the interim committees. And there have been several that I have been attending over this past break of the legislature, starting in the late summer and then continuing on through the fall. And then also speaking to other cities and what the county has on their program. The County Manager’s office coordinates a joint city-county platform to be incorporated or the concepts of it through our program. And those are indicated with the little asterisks as you have gone through and looked at that. Also attend the League of Kansas Municipalities meetings. I sit on the Legislative Policy Committee for League of Kansas Municipalities. And then we review the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs items as well, which is to kind of see where the business community is sitting on certain issues. Also, of course, we want to ask our management team about their various professions. We think that they’re very excited by their respective groups, especially we see here quite a bit of our Police Department as of late. And then of course also wanting to hear your feedback. Carol mentioned updates previously that I was going to be working on this, anything that you wanted to have included. And then I was able to figure out that [inaudible] before Thanksgiving, spend a little bit more time with it before it got to you tonight. So, the culmination of all that is where we are today.
So, just talking about a few items that are on the horizon that effect kind of the atmosphere that will be in Topeka, or already is in the interim. The budget issues that we continue to hear about with the state. They seem to have found a way to make [inaudible] the 2016 year. I was at the Lathrop & Gage forecast this morning, and I know some other members were there. I don’t think anybody has quite a handle on how they’re going to fix the 2017 fiscal year issues that we’re having, so that will be something that they need to address, to think about. Additionally, they have several education lawsuits that are pending. And the timing of when those will kind of be resolved is still up in the air. There was discussion that perhaps it won’t during this session, but that’s anybody guess at this point. Also something that we don’t take a position on, but just to be mindful of is the whole discussion about Medicaid expansion. Many of you will recall last year the House barely got on the floor to debate anything because there was this fear that a Medicaid expansion amendment might be heard, and so just know that’s on the top of folks’ minds. And then also the tax language does affect us. There is a definitely a push to get that moved up to 2016 [inaudible]. So, just items to be mindful of.
So, the 2016 draft we have seven different sections. And last year was the first year that we put them into this kind of organization through sections. We also worked to tighten it up over the last two years to items that are not so broadly based, but we actually have a focus and we know there’s legislation out there where there is talk of legislation that we would have these statements for. So, those were the seven and we’ll go through each one of those.
In terms of Home Rule, we have our general statement in favor of home rule. There are several different items that can come out over the session where this is a good kind of standard policy, a statement to have that we used.
The next item is the Repeal Tax Lid /Local Funding Flexibility statement that is on there. And the Local Funding Flexibility language is something that we had for several years on our program. We just added the repeal of the tax lid language to that because that does affect your all’s ability to hand specific revenues and have all the rules available to you as you’re picking future plans [inaudible]. So, that’s where we get [inaudible]. That’s also on the Johnson County Joint City-County program.
The next item is Limits on Appraised Valuation Growth. And again, that is something we’ve had on there and is similar to the limits we had. We tweaked it just a little bit so that is was in line with what was on the joint program in the City-County this year.
Moving on to elections. Since the election law did pass last year we just tweaked that so that it would talk that we still prefer to have them in odd-numbered years and to leave that non-partisan issue up to the cities and not have that brought through the legislature.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Dan.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Yeah. This item here, I don’t know that I would agree with even having this item on here.
MS. KILLEN: The elections?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I mean, I think it’s really up to them to determine how our elections are going to be handled. And if that’s the way they are, that’s the way they are. So, I mean, my thing is I would think that, you know, I wouldn’t be in favor of telling the state, hey, we want to have elections on certain days and certain, you know, --
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: I’m in favor of it.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I’m just saying I’m not.
MS. KILLEN: That sounds like a discussion --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’m not in favor of it either. I echo Dan’s concerns there.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Should we do that now or would you like to wait till the end?
MS. KILLEN: We can do it section by section.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay.
MS. KILLEN: Okay. And then the last item on there was Unfunded Mandates. And this is something that as in the last section, especially with -- related to police body cameras and more specifically to the retention policies the way we’re looking at the legislation that we [inaudible] funded, mandate language. We added some language towards the end of that, but if they were going to help fund this for us that it wouldn’t be through a revenue stream we’re already receiving because that has been part of the discussion in the interim to fund this program. It would be certain funds that are already coming towards us and that we allocate back to us to pay for it. So, that is what changed all that.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, the Home Rule section it looks like the item we would be voting on whether or not to keep in the platform is the non-partisan election provision. So, Mickey.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: What was it 14 years ago that Johnson County had an election that determined --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Their charter?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: -- their charter, whether or not it would be non-partisan elections. And it was voted in by the Johnson County residents overwhelmingly to have non-partisan elections. So, I don’t want to give it to the state to tell them, yes, you can make it partisan now because all the people -- we don’t care what the people have to say. We’re at the grassroots section. We’re supposed to care about the people. Obviously the other ones don’t.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. I would just say it’s correct here. The way this is written, “...supports local elections remaining separate from state and national elections and is opposed to any legislation that would require...” Now, for that, that covers us having them now odd-year fall elections, correct, and they are non-partisan. So, this basically reflects the way the law is written now, correct?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Correct.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Any further comments on this? Dan?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I’ll just kind of reiterate. I mean, the law is the way it is right now. Why are, you know, what -- it seems like we’re just asking to pick a fight, you know, and say, you know, I just -- I don’t know why it’s even in here.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I would weigh in and say I think probably the reason why it’s in here is when this proposal initially started it was even year partisan elections at the state level, so it got worked back to what the change is now. So, I think probably the thought behind is keep it where it is and don’t keep moving down that path. So, this is something that’s going to come up --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Because that’s where they want to go with it. They want to keep moving on the path.
MS. KILLEN: That is the thinking behind it.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: You either believe in Home Rule or you don’t. I mean, do we control out, you know, do we have -- are we smart enough at the local level to determine how we want to have our elections. Because I tell you what, if the federal government told the state how they were going to run their elections, everybody that supports screwing with our elections is the first one to scream and go, how dare you tell us as a state what to do. You are overstepping your authority. But yet, they have no problem coming in telling us, well, this is how you’re going to do it. Mickey is right. Johnson County voted this is how we want to do it. And we have a legislature now that’s basically thumbed their nose at the citizens of Johnson County and said we don’t care how you voted, we think you should do it this way.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But they just passed a law just the way it’s written here, so why do we say --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Because they are still -- if you talk to anybody in the legislature their goal is still to get it into partisan even year elections. They want to tag us on to the end of -- you’re going to be on a ticket with the president, all the way down the list, and you’re going to be at the bottom of the list running that election, partisan. And then if Kobach has his way -- if Kobach has his way it’ll be a partied election where you can just flip Republican, vote down the line, or Democrat, down the line, you don’t know who is at the bottom of the list. You could just vote party, party line ticket and walk away from it and don’t know who you voted for.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike and then Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: So, I wanted to clarify what Jeff just said. You’re saying -- with the president and everything else, that’s - -
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: We don’t now.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right. Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And that’s just it. The original proposal on this, if you look at what happened in Topeka, the original proposal was put us in even years with the big elections. We’ll be at the end of those tickets. And that’s the problem is voters fall off. They’re thinking we’re going to get more, you know, we have a better turn-out. Not really because if you look at the end of a long ballot voting fall-off at the end of that ballot, how many people vote for judges?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But that’s not what I heard. And when that was coming around it was, yeah, you run even years, so you run with the president. A lot high turnout. City stuff would be at the top, presidential stuff at the bottom.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: They would never put stuff above a president.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: That’s what I heard.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Either way --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, that’s the way it’s proposed.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: -- I think is the way we are now.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: [inaudible]
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: That’s the way it’s been proposed.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I think it’s been proposed both ways at best. It’s been proposed a thousand different ways.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I just don’t know why we’re arguing a subject that they just voted.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well, we’re arguing it because it’s not over. Because this bill to go and change it to a presidential or something else is going to come up. The bill is going to be reintroduced if it hasn’t already to keep moving down the line. So, the idea would be to keep it where it is.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And just remember if we have a partisan election, then everybody -- anybody -- then you’re talking about a partisan primary.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Uh-huh.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: You’re telling me that’s not going to get ugly in a local election? I mean, we all know what would happen.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Try to fill a pothole correct.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. I would say, you know, the first thing I don’t want to have my campaign signs out for three months starting in the middle of August. [Inaudible]
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Which was dumb.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: And going back to here, this other thing. You know, one of the things we talked about a lot with Parks and Pipes when we went through it was, you know, it’s going to be at the bottom and get lost in the weeds. The one thing I will point out in that election was the difference between the turnout in our vote in Shawnee for the Parks, Pipes and Pavement proposals in I believe it was the [inaudible] and the County Commissioner of something, but something like 11 percent. So, we got pushed to the bottom of it, the bottom of the ballot and unless you’ve done a really done a good job of it, educating the people with staff and we all worked on it this last one --
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: I think we’d get lost.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. It’s going to come back again as Stephanie suggested. If it hasn’t already been [inaudible], it is going to come back again because that’s one of the goals. And I believe in local control and I think we need to support keeping it the way the law is written at this time.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: When I served on the Johnson County Charter Commission recently, just a couple years back, this was an item that had a lot of contentious discussion and it lost in a pretty narrow vote to put on the ballot for people to decide on this. But during those discussions the words was what I was told and what was put before the group was that Johnson County is one of the few counties in the state of Kansas that doesn’t have partisan elections.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I think that --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And it’s the most successful county in the state.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well, no. Well, fair, but that’s not accurate.
(Councilmembers talking amongst themselves)
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, that’s what they put out for all the discussion in the Charter Commission. And I still remember them discussing that item thoroughly.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: But when you talk with the League of Kansas Municipalities there is very of them.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Well, if there are no further comments I think it’s probably easiest to do a roll call to vote on this.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Are we just talking about the one item in this roll call?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Just the one, just the non-partisan elections.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: And what is the motion?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Removal or non-removal.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, and I would be to keep it on the platform.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, Councilmember Neighbor?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: I vote to keep it on the platform.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Councilmember Pflumm?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Jenkins?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kemmling?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. I am a yes. Councilmember Vaught?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Sandifer?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kenig?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Five yeses, three nos. It stays on. Nos were Pflumm, Kemmling and Jenkins. (Motion passes 5-3). Moving on.
MS. KILLEN: Moving on to the next one is Finance and Taxation. The first item on here is a new item and this is to support continuation of the City sales tax-exempt status. There were different proposals and bills that were brought up throughout the session that would remove the sales tax-exempt status of cities in varieties of ways across the board, specifically building projects, capital projects. So, this was added this year to, you know, allow for a tax-exempt status. They are right now in a taxation interim and they’re carrying groundwork of all the different sales tax-exemptions that exempt property taxes and some subsidies, and so this is going to be a topic I would assume this coming session and that’s why we [inaudible].
The second item there is the statutory pass-through funding. We’ve had this on our agenda for several years as well. And as it [inaudible] frankly [inaudible]. These are [inaudible] statutory pass-through dollars continue. Two that we receive are the motor fuel tax. That goes through our Special Highway Fund that helps pay for our mill and overlay program. And then also the Alcohol and Liquor Tax that they split three ways. The total of both of those funds grants is about $2.4 million.
And then the third item there is a tax base policy, and we’ve had that on our agenda as well. And that’s just looking at keeping the tax base inside of the state as broad as possible. There have been several -- this is a legislation of recent that has started to exempt people and appropriations and groups out of that property tax base as well as all those [inaudible] tax exemptions that are out there and also just making sure that professional services that are kind of the bread and butter of Johnson County.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Dan?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Could we talk about that one at the end of that group?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. This is the end of the group.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Oh, that’s the end of the group. This to me seems like an incentive for corporations and for the state to entice companies. And then if we go back we ask that they don’t -- they don’t impose on our rights to provide incentives, but yet we’re asking them not to do incentives. So, I think that both of those should really either be eliminated, or I mean, if we want to continue to ask for our incentives and we don’t state that they not impose incentives upon the state in general.
MS. KILLEN: I would also point out that as part of some of those incentives they are taking away from [inaudible] tax basis. While we know that’s just part of the statement, it’s not the full statement. We’re also talking about ensuring that sales tax for professional services are not on there.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But you -- sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.
MS. KILLEN: That’s okay.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But you understand when we provide an incentive that goes against the school district, the library, you know, a lot of those other entities just like these would go against ours. But overall, we hope to increase the revenue. In their case they want to increase the revenue of the state. In our case we want to increase our revenue as a smaller entity.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And that’s where the policy discussion with this group, not --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Understand. But I just wanted to make her clear of what --
MS. KILLEN: I understand.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Okay.
MS. KILLEN: I was just trying to give you background of where we’re coming from because it’s been on there for a while.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: No, I understand. I understand.
MS. KILLEN: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: And I think some of where we’ve seen this at the state level is less. I think I consider it more -- less of an incentive and more, like for example, the state decided to exempt gyms, like fitness gyms from a tax policy. So, is that creating an unfair winner and loser and what about the YMCA. And it’s sort of making the entire tax policy for the state sort of off kilter. So, I think that’s --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: My whole idea here is though if that’s -- if it’s used an incentive to entice dairy farmers to move back from California to Kansas, then, you know, we’re asking them not to do that. And two pages later or the next page we ask them not to impose on our ability to impose on the school district. So, that’s my problem. Okay. And so I know it’s been on there for a long time, but I mean I’d be in favor of just eliminating that paragraph.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, I would say -- I would kind of consider the paragraph to talk about two separate things. The issue you’re talking about, but also the tax on sales and -- or services.
MS. KILLEN: And I tried to get to this. And you want the whole thing gone --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Right.
MS. KILLEN: -- and there are different nuances in that well, so.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I would strongly oppose our effort or our conversation of removing our opposition to the tax on services. That would decimate the county.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I could go with that.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I didn’t think -- this is the topic that one piece, right?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: What?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: We need to talk about this one piece here, this tax-based policy.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. So, I’m looking at the last sentence basically.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Oh, right. Because we talk about it up here under financing and taxation.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Right. Right. Right. So, that’s the sales tax, I’ll let Katie explain it. It’s a separate --
MS. KILLEN: The sales tax exemption is talking about the City’s sales tax exemption. The past state’s policy is talking about what its sales tax put on it in terms of professional services. We’re not [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I don’t know why that’s not combined up here under sales tax exemption, the one for professional services. Why isn’t it up there with that? And then we could eliminate the rest of this.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well, I don’t -- I think probably because the professional services have never been taxed, so it’s not exemption that we’ve created. They are just not taxed.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: So, I would go along with you on that one if they want to leave that in there.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: How does everybody else feel on it? Jim?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Well, just to point out here, these items, a number of them here, I think that it is on the -- this is written as on the Chamber’s legislative agenda and it’s also on the Johnson County-City joint platform.
(Councilmembers talking over one another)
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: If you look at it, I think everybody is looking at the draft, which I guess is the same thing. If you look at the -- isn’t that the draft and the final draft is the back page, page 39.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And it’s not unusual for people to say I want my cake and eat it too. I mean, you know, it’s like we’re -- it’s not like nobody does that. But I understand your point.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: I think we ought to leave it the way it is.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: And having the chamber, the chamber, I mean my whole thing here is, you know, it doesn’t matter if the county or the state or whoever has their legislation program. I just don’t think we can tell someone else don’t do that, but then we want to be able to do it. So, that’s not really good policy. I don’t care who you are. So, that was the reason why I brought that up.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: I was just going to note, so I mean it seems like in both of these key sentences we’re basically requesting that the state leave assisting the [inaudible] as is. So, not just exemptions but also no tax policy on services. So, that’s kind of a [inaudible]. We’re not asking for an additional exemption, we’re asking for current policy to remain as-is versus asking for another incentive.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But what are you getting at, because it’s kind of like the election thing, you know. If the law is, and that’s different because they want to -- supposedly they want to change that. I think it just got changed on the elections, so why would we comment in our legislation program? But in this case if we’re just stating what the law is, I mean, this thing ought to be 12, 14 documents big, you know. So, I mean, and then if we’re asking to leave our incentives intact and then we tell them not to provide incentives that impose on us I just don’t get that.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Which one? When you’re talking about incentives, which -- are you talking about the tax-based policy with the ad valorem tax where the state can -- is that the one you’re focusing on?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: That’s what’s I’m focusing in on.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And this was, if I’m not mistaken --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: And this would be the services part of that.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: If I’m not mistaken where that came from. So, at a local level, and you’re right, at a local level if we want to say we’re going to abate this company we do it because we have the full benefit of that company coming. I think where this came from, if I’m not mistaken, was the concrete -- Ash Grove. So, Ash Grove, which they end up winning quasi part of with it. So, Ash Grove said we want our building classified differently because all these things outside that are attached to our building that’s not part of our building, that’s equipment. And in Kansas we have an equipment tax, which as we know because every year we’re losing more and more of that revenue. If that would have passed the way it was written and just -- and not specific to them, I think the number that hit in Shawnee that we looked at, we had a number, but I know Johnson County, it was huge. It was millions and millions of dollars that people could reclassify all these things in their building. So, you had this scenario where the state has said we’re going to tie your hands and you can’t raise the revenue without this, this and this because we’re going to tax later and then you’re going to come in and do things that could cost you millions of dollars on your tax base, so you could be in a situation in the City where you just had several -- a few million dollars vaporize out of your budget and you have no way to recover it because now they’ve tax lidded you, that’s kind of where this whole thing came from. I agree with the incentive. This is about -- what they’re saying is -- what this is saying is, don’t pass a blanket policy that -- because this company over here is lobbying you to get a tax break that didn’t blanket -- it covers everybody in the state that’s getting the same treatment when you’re sitting here going, okay, but if you’re doing it to attract a company to Wichita, but it blanket policies the whole state, we have no benefit for this company going to Wichita and the taxpayer can give them that industry. But that industry is in Shawnee and also we lose that tax, well how is that --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But if the company is coming to Shawnee? That’s what you’re not thinking.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: We do it ourselves.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: We do it ourselves.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: No, no, no. I mean --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But that’s what we do.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But they give you the right to do that. What if they take away that right?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But they haven’t taken away that right.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: The session isn’t over yet.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But they haven’t taken away that right.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: They haven’t taken away that right.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Carol, did you want to jump in?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I just want to make sure we understand the difference between tax-based policy and incentives because this is a tax-based policy. These exemptions have not been used by the state nor do I think that they have any intention to use them as incentives. The discussions have been about existing bills that already existed in the state of Kansas and lobbying to get taken off the tax rolls. The exemptions are not to be used as [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: [Inaudible]
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: But, whoa, whoa, whoa. I don’t know that you can say that because when we provide an exemption, we are enticing --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: An abatement.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: -- companies, an abatement, whatever you want to call it, we’re enticing companies to come to Kansas, Shawnee, Johnson County, you know, Kansas. All right. So, you cannot say that that’s not what they’re doing with these right here.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But that’s not what they’re -- we [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: We may be enticing them to come from Overland Park or Lenexa.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But hold on. But what Carol is saying is --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: That’s not what we’re saying.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: -- this is tax-based policy.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: That has nothing to do with it.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: This is -- the whole thing with Ash Grove, they were already here. Ash Grove was saying we want to be evaluated differently tax-wise based on -- the reality of it was you could have said your air conditioner on your building, with the way it was originally written, you could have said your air conditioner is not part of your building, it’s a fixture and, therefore, shouldn’t be taxed.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Andrew Nave.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Now, is that --
MR. NAVE: Yeah. Let me jump in with the distinction. I think there is a little of distinction, it’s somewhat in semantics and I think there is a distinction between an incentive which responds to an action. A company comes to us, wants to create jobs, wants to build a building. It’s an actual event that we are trying to incentivize as opposed to we are giving, you know, zero property taxes or zero sales tax to any industry, any company of any type, future or existing, and that’s tax policy.
An incentive program is to incentivize an action. And whether it’s an excise tax, whether it’s a property tax or a sales tax with a TIF, CID, we’re incentivizing an action, or responding to a potential action, or an action. It’s not an across-the-board blanket tax policy, which is what in our Kansas Economic Development Alliance across our state looked at the Ash Grove issue, the fitness -- I can’t remember the community that the fitness clubs.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Wichita.
MR. NAVE: But it wasn’t to -- more of this, facilities are coming into Kansas, these fitness facilities are adding jobs or increasing fitness services across our state, it was one day they were taxable, the next day they weren’t. So, there was no action distinguished what was that incentive, so I think that’s an [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Which has the result of taking money out of your taxes.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Uh-huh.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: So, I still want to comment.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah, Dan.
MR. NAVE: Sure. Sure. Absolutely.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Just go back on that. I’m going to disagree, okay.
MR. NAVE: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: And I agree with part of what you’re saying, but the reason why the state, and I don’t care who lobbied for it or whatever, but somebody is getting an incentive, right? So, there’s an added incentive to move your company to the state of Kansas on a lot of these issues that that have, whether it was Ash Grove for one company or dairy farmers from California, you know, I mean, those are ones that have been targeted, and some of these laws are made for that. Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: No, they’re not.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Not for dairy farmers they’re not. They’re already exempt.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: So, what I’m saying is we shouldn’t tell them not to do that when we’re asking on the next page to do incentives. And I agree, but our incentives, I mean, we have a lot more incentives than just a property tax abatement.
MR. NAVE: Well, I think we have policies that result in an incentive, somebody taking an action that’s like an incentive. But I think an incentive program and a tax policy are two distinct programs.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Totally.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: They can be used to entice --
MR. NAVE: A tax policy can be perceived as an incentive, but that doesn’t mean that it is one.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Well, some states get rid of their whole income tax to entice companies.
MR. NAVE: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: That’s a tax policy.
MR. NAVE: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: So, is that an incentive?
MR. NAVE: I wouldn’t describe it as an incentive program, no. I would say it has an incentive effect, but I don’t think that it’s an incentive program. An incentive program responds to an action.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: That’s an incentive to get people to move to your state and that’s the reason why states do that.
MR. NAVE: Sure, absolutely.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Okay. So, then we’re all going to agree, you know --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Well, hold on, Dan. Would no income tax be a tool in the toolbox for a tax policy?
MR. NAVE: It’s semantics of what you mean by policy versus --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: It still provides an incentive.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: If it’s a policy, you’re right. I agree --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: It’s an incentive --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I agree that it incentives people.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: -- to get people to move here.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I agree it incentives people, but it’s not used on a per basis --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Didn’t say it was.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: We’re going to incentivize, no, we created this tax -- no different than the state lowering the business tax, the limited business tax. Is it an incentive, yeah, but it wasn’t -- it’s not an incentive tool. It’s tax policy in the state of Kansas says --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I’m not disagreeing with you.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Okay, then.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Okay, then what?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But what we’re saying here is, what we’re telling the state is, don’t pass a tax policy that eliminates the tax on certain businesses that will have a negative effect or bottom line if we are not going to be [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Unless you want to just be ready to raise the mill levy at any given time to make up for it.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, my current comment is we have the right to be parochial and the state -- we may be at odds with the state. They say you can’t do it, but we can and all that, but so what. I mean, you know, looking after good old us, that’s kind of what everybody does, you know. So, I don’t really know where this -- we’re going down the wrong road really. I mean, I understand your point clearly, yeah, we are speaking out of both sides of our mouth somewhat, but it’s still pretty normal for a community to look after their best interests first and the state can sort it out. And they’re going to do what they damn well please anyway quite frankly. So, yeah, I think that one’s been beat to death a little bit.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. I feel a little bit, yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Okay. So, can we have a quick vote on it then?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Let’s have a vote on it. So, whether or not to omit the tax-based policy paragraph, did you want to keep or remove the tax on services, Dan?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Keep.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Keep. Okay. So, keep that piece, remove the rest. I will do a roll call. Again --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Wait a minute. I’m confused on what we’re voting on.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I’m about to explain it.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Okay. Good.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, I’m a little bit confused myself actually. Okay. So, we’re going to say if you vote yes, keep it in the platform as it is.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Leave it like it is.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Leave it as is. If you’re a no vote, then you vote to omit all of the tax on services. Does that make sense?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Uh-huh.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Councilmember Neighbor?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Pflumm?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Jenkins?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kemmling?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I am a yes. Councilmember Vaught?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Sandifer?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kenig?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. We have a 7 to 1 vote with Councilmember Pflumm being the no. So, it stays in the platform as it’s -- (Motion passes 7-1)
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Like it used to be.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Well, and to go, kind of go -- this is like a sale tactic here. You know, if I’m working on a customer and I want him to buy something from me, I don’t tell him to do something else that’s maybe, I don’t know, that’s not in his best interest.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: [Inaudible]
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: It’s all about sales.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Your point is well-taken.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Open Government.
MS. KILLEN: Open Government. Very little change on this. We deleted one sentence from the Kansas Open Records that we have, and that was just because it was kind of redundant. The sentence that was in there has been covered already inside of that second.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Ladies and gentlemen, or just gentlemen as it were, are we good with the Open Government section as is?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: I’m good.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’ve got one comment here.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: That was just this one about the Kansas Open Records, and I just wanted some clarification where you crossed out “Act and its ability to recoup costs of requests as allowed for in current statute.” Did they take it out of the statute, is that why we’re deleting that?
MS. KILLEN: No. I figured I could see that we could get that across in terms of where it says “the ability of public agencies to conduct their essential business functions.” So, we could be saying that we could charge those fees to be able to recoup those costs, so it was just redundant.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’d like to be a little more specific about it. That doesn’t sound redundant. That sounds pretty loosey-goosey that first statement. If we’re going to charge them, I’d like to say, yeah, we’re going to charge you for this stuff.
MS. KILLEN: And if you want it to be -- leave it the way it was last year, that’s fine. I was just trying to tighten up language.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I think having some flexibility -- to me having some flexibility, and if we are or are not going to charge people for open records requests I think it’s beneficial.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Wow, I don’t like it. Playing that game where we’re going to charge this guy, we’re not going to charge that guy. Whoa.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But this is a policy to the --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: That’s scary.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: This is a policy to the legislature to say, you know, this is our position on that. We’re not looking for a real definitive. It’s not like they really read it anyway.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Yeah. They’re not going to read it anyway.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well, that’s encouraging. Thanks a lot.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. But it’s pretty easy --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Only when we write stuff that’s going to make them mad.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Well, obviously they don’t because they pretty much voted against everything we’ve passed.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: You guys are killing me. Okay. All right.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I mean, all you’ve got to do is take the --
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Why don’t we put it -- why don’t we focus on what we can change.
(Councilmember Meyer calling for order.)
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Just take the red highlighting off and it’s pretty easy.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Lightbulbs, we can change lightbulbs.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Are we changing anything with Open Records and Open Meetings Act provision, or are we moving on?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: I’m good.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: I’m good with it.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I don’t like it. I’d like to have that stated in there like we had it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay.
MS. KILLEN: It’s easily put back into the statement.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I like it the way it was.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Well, let’s just for the sake of it, for argument, let’s do a quick vote then.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, wait a second. What are we saying, just adding in the --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Leaving it the way it was.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Putting it back to what it was.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Which says that the Act and --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And its “ability to recoup costs of request as allowed for in current statute.”
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: All right. Does it matter to -- just put it back in.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Let’s put it back in. I surrender. Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yea, an easy one. Got one.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: How you feeling, Eric?
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: It’s your lucky -- you better get a lottery ticket.
(Inaudible; talking over one another)
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Oh, my god, Public Safety.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: He better get a lottery ticket. It’s his lucky day, man, I’m telling you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Public Safety.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Something got changed.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Public Safety.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It’s a tough crowd.
MS. KILLEN: Okay. Moving on to Public Safety. The item that we have on here is the Metro Law Enforcement Mutual Aid. This legislation was introduced last year. It had quite a bit of work and hearings on the House side last year. And it did get moved out of committee, but never got a vote on the floor. It did take quite a bit of time to work through the session. There was a lot of compromise and language, bringing lots of people in. The report was very specific to the Kansas City area, but the problem is language that they kind of worked on opening it up to other parts of the state that bordered the state lines. So, hopefully this year it will make it across the finish line. There’s been lots of discussion about it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yea.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Sounds good.
MS. KILLEN: And the other -- we did remove the Emergency Management Homeland Security Statement with a very generic statement.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Unt-oh.
MS. KILLEN: I talked to both of our chiefs and neither one of them anticipated a legislation that we would need that statement for, and that the statement, trying to tighten things up, that’s why we have removed it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Eric?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. I’m not going to worry about the Emergency Management Homeland Security Statement, but I want to get back to the Metro Law Enforcement Mutual Aid.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. That’s what we’re on.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’d like to add some language in there. Something that refers to the current level of threat with WMD and acts of terrorism and so on, which really puts more of a focus on this because you’re going to be resource poor in one of those kinds of environments.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Absolutely.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And we want to -- I think that’s a good lever to use to try to get them to look at this more strongly because that’s a hot item right now. So, putting in, you know, adding that in thereafter, you know, response to an emergency, particularly in light of current events and the, you know, the current climate and the WMD threats and all that jazz. And that might get some more action on that. I’m hoping to because I like this piece. I want to see this passed.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: It’s a great bill, yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, let’s put some extra zingers in there to put some oomph into it.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: You better get a mega millions ticket, too, Powerball and that one.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, are we all good with Eric’s second change?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: We’re all good.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: We’re good.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Big winner tonight.
MS. KILLEN: Economic Prosperity.
(Off Record Talking)
MS. KILLEN: So, with anticipation of this first topic, we kind of talked about it already. I’ve worked with Andrew on rewording this for this coming session. There has been quite a bit of discussion about specifically this, how our cities -- how our [inaudible] are currently set up in cities using those. That has been a topic inside of the tax committee that’s been meeting, their final day is tomorrow, which I will be up there for that. And they will be offering the recommendations for the legislature based on the discussion that was had at the breakfast this morning again. I would anticipate that they’re going to put some type of language looking at TIF. I’m not quite sure what that’s going to exactly look like, but we just kind of reworded this in terms of how local communities are looking at what [inaudible] they’re trying to provide, specific land uses. They’re going to try to target [inaudible] allow those. So, that was the change there.
In terms of transportation, I just -- a few minimal changes there. We did add that last sentence because they are starting to talk about the next kind of version of TWORKS, if you will, and what that might look like, and so we did that include that information there as well.
We've had a statement about education in the past. And since the block grant bill did pass and they’re going to be looking at a huge funding formula, we added that new sentence inside of there that just talks about a fair and equitable plan, and that provides for that quality of education that Johnson County residents have come to expect.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Excellent. Any comments on Economic Prosperity? Okay. Moving on.
MS. KILLEN: Okay. Human Services. We did remove one item here, which was the Internal Symbol for Access. Where that movement is really going to be [inaudible] is the federal government. And we have had it in our federal legislative program, and I would just say that this Governing Body would [inaudible] to be there, we had it and we discussed that after the first of the year on our federal program, but because of the state [inaudible] to do anything to move that there really isn’t much in there. There hasn’t been a lot of push from any legislature maneuvering this wording, resolutions or anything like that. So, we don’t need to do that.
And then the other two items are items that we have had in the past that talk about just general human service support. It’s providing for those safety net needs and then also adequate state psychiatric hospital resources. And I know this is something very important to our police department in being able to have that mental health piece there.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Are we good with Human Services? Eric?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. I wanted to focus on that adequate state psychiatric hospital resources. I would like to even strengthen that if we could to where we use it with these much needed services. And I would say we could even add something like, and would strongly support any expansion of these services.
MS. KILLEN: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Are we all good with that?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: That’s number two for him.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Three.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Three.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Public Employees, last section.
MS. KILLEN: Yes. Just one item here. Again, we moved the PEERA statement that we had. That’s the Public Employer Employee Relations Act. Not to any legislation that we’re anticipating. So again, to tighten things up we removed that. That’s just what the [inaudible] and the House [inaudible]. The item that we have here is our KPERS statement. We expanded it a little bit based on some legislation that started to take shape at the very end of this session in terms of changing the way final average salaries for long-term folks would possibly be affected. They also pulled in KP&F in that. KP&F was also discussed this in this and they [inaudible]. So, that’s where we were going with this change with that. Some other items that came out of that, we’re also looking at our sick and leave time policies, but specifically focusing on the retirement benefit.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Any changes to the KPERS statement, Public Employees?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Moving on.
MS. KILLEN: Okay. So, for next steps we would recommend approval with the changes that have been made here tonight. And I’ve expedited this to the December 14th, Council meeting, to the one in January so that we can get this put together and then provide this information to legislatures. It’s our intention to try and set meetings with them. And the Mayor, of course, will let you know what’s been set up if anybody else wants to join in on those. And then the state session begins on January 11 [inaudible].
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Thank you, Katie. Any further discussion on this from the Council? Anyone from the audience who would like to speak to this item? Seeing none, the recommended action is to Forward the 2016 State Legislative Plan to the December 14, 2015 City Council Meeting for Consideration by the Governing Body.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Move for approval.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Is there a second?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Second. All those in favor say aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Opposed nay. The motion passes. (Motion passes 8-0)
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Motion to adjourn.
COUNCILMEMBER PFLUMM: Second.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All those in favor say aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Opposed nay. Motion passes. (Motion passes 8-0). We are adjourned. Thank you.
I certify that the foregoing is a correct transcript from the electronic sound recording of the proceedings in the above-entitled matter.
/das December 28, 2015
Deborah A. Sweeney, Recording Secretary
Stephen Powell, City Clerk