CITY OF SHAWNEE
COUNCIL COMMITTEE MEETING
June 21, 2016
|Councilmembers Present ||Staff Present|
|Councilmember Neighbor||City Manager Gonzales|
|Councilmember Jenkins||Deputy City Manager Charlesworth|
|Councilmember Kemmling||City Clerk Powell|
|Councilmember Vaught||City Attorney Rainey|
|Councilmember Meyer||Finance Director Rogers|
|Councilmember Sandifer||IT Director Bunting|
|Councilmember Kenig||Deputy Planning Director Allmon|
|Fire Chief Mattox|
|Councilmembers Absent||Development Services Dir. Wesselschmidt|
|Councilmember Pflumm||Police Captain Mendoza|
|Public Works Director Whitacre|
|Human Resources Director Barnard|
|Deputy Police Chief Orbin|
|Police Major Tennis|
|Police Captain Larson|
|Police Captain Brunner|
|Planning and Research Manager Collins|
|Senior Accountant Oldham|
|Management Analyst Schmitz|
|Sr. Project Engineer Lindstrom|
|Sr. Project Engineer Moeller-Krass|
|Kevin Fern, Visit Shawnee|
|Linda Leeper, Shawnee Chamber |
A. ROLL CALL
(Shawnee Council Committee Meeting Called to Order at 7:01 p.m.)
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 Committee members here tonight are Councilmember Neighbor of Ward I; Eric Jenkins, Ward II; Mike Kemmling, Ward II; Jeff Vaught, Ward III; Mickey Sandifer, Ward IV; and Brandon Kenig of 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 an 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 also like to remind Committee members to wait to be recognized and to turn on your microphone when you would like to speak so we can get a clear and accurate record.
1. JOHNSON COUNTY COURTHOUSE PRESENTATION
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: There are two items on tonight's agenda. The first item is a Presentation on the Johnson County Courthouse. On May 26, 2016, the Board of County Commissioners approved a Resolution calling for a special election to allow voters to decide on an additional ¼ cent retailers' sales tax to fund a new County Courthouse and other public safety projects. The election is scheduled for November 8, 2016. Chairman Eilert and District Attorney Howe from Johnson County are here and will give a presentation and answer questions. This item is for informational purposes only.
Welcome, Chairman Eilert.
CHAIRMAN EILERT: Well, thank you very much. And thank you to Councilmembers and the Mayor for allowing us to make some comments and a brief presentation this evening. My name is Ed Eilert, Chairman of the Board of Johnson County Commissioners. And I have with me this evening District Steve Howe, who will participate with me in this presentation. I also want to recognize, everybody knows Jim Allen, who is the District 2 Commissioner. Glad you’re here this evening, Jim. And County Manager Hannes Zacharias.
This is a question that will be on the November ballot. It will be a question involving a ¼ cent sales tax, which will be -- if passed, would be in place for ten years. We are using authority that was given to us by the state legislature about six years ago. And this ¼ sales tax has to be sunsetted in ten years. A ¼ cent sales tax will raise about $30 million in Johnson County. And I’ll get into that a little more just a little later. But I’ve always felt that if you’re asking taxpayers for a little more money you should be in a position to explain the budget where we’re at and why this is necessary. So, let me proceed with that.
Public Safety Capital Projects:
[Breakdown of FY 2016 Published Budget slide]
This is our 2016 budget for Johnson County. Pie chart. I’ll draw your attention to the right-hand side of the pie chart. There’s a number there of 328 million. That is the county’s operating budget. All of the activities that we are mandated to carry out by the state legislature, appraiser’s office, Department of Motor Vehicles, Treasurer’s Office, Records and Administration, Public Health, all of those activities are included in the 328 million. Our total published budget for 2016 was $924 million. That’s a big number. But much of that is not supported by local tax dollars, either sales or property.
If you drop down to the lower left-hand corner of that pie chart, there is a number there, $151 million. That’s for Johnson County Wastewater. Johnson County Wastewater receives no sales or property tax to run their operation. It is a utility based like your water system, like your light system, what have you. But they receive no taxpayer direct funding from sales or property tax. If you go up the left side of that pie chart you’ll see Libraries, a little over $30 million. And you’ll see Parks and Rec at about $30 million. Those two departments are separate taxing districts. They have their own mill levy. And those levies, the money generated by those levies stay with those two departments. Go up a little further you’ll see an Enterprise Fund for parks, that’s about $20 million. That’s all the fees that come in for the activities, kids’ camps, summer activities, senior activities, all the activities that they charge a fee for. That’s the enterprise fund and there’s no tax dollars in that Enterprise Fund. Go a little higher you’ll see the airport, New Century and Johnson County Executive. They receive no tax dollars for their activities. They are supported by economic development activities, leases that exist at New Century as well as general operations of the airport. You go a little further you’ll see a $60 million number which is from Grants of all kinds. Some from the state, some from the federal and other types of grants. Go around a little bit on the right side, you’ll see about a $10 million number. The county, general county activities also charges fees for various activities. And that’s about a $10 million number. So, if you take Wastewater, the Enterprise funds, the fee-based activities, that’s about $250 million or $260 million of our budget, which receives no tax support. Drop down to the very bottom. This is another interesting number. There is an $80 million number there. It’s called double accounting. I taught high school accounting for four years and thought I knew a little bit about accounting until I came across this exercise. And the best way to explain it is like this. If I have $100 in my savings account and $100 in my checking account, according to the government accounting standard boards I have a budget of $200. If I move $100 from my savings to my checking, that’s one accounting transaction. And when I spend that $100 out of my checking that’s another transaction. So, even though I don’t have more money my budget just doubled from $200 to $400 because of that accounting anomaly. It doesn’t represent money. It represents transfers within the budget that have to be accounted for that manner. The other number is $185 million. And that’s for the reserve fund. And that also is a big number, but you need to understand how that number is generated.
[Breakdown of Project FY 2016 Reserves]
This is a breakdown of that $185 million number. And if you look at the top line you’ll see there’s a number there of $62 million. That’s the county’s reserve for the operating budget, the $328 million. Not 185, it’s 62 million. That represents 21 percent of our operating fund. Our policy on our General Fund reserve is 20 to 25 percent. This puts us at 21 percent. Then you’re second category will be agencies like mental health and Johnson County Development Supports would be another one. These are agencies that depend upon reimbursements from the state, federal government, insurance or private pay for those activities. So, we do maintain reserves in those two areas.
Also Public Works, we maintain about a $2 million reserve there. Fortunately this year we didn’t have heavy snows to pay overtime. We didn’t have heavy rains, which washed out roads and bridges. But that’s what that reserve fund is for.
Then if you’ll drop down to the lower section there’s Restricted Funds. I think most of you are familiar with our stormwater fund that is a county-wide tax that’s earmarked and stays with stormwater projects, money that’s used by cities to attack those stormwater issues. We do not move any of that money to the county’s General Fund. It stays with stormwater.
Another interesting one is the 911 Fund. We have about $5.5 million in reserves in that fund. By state statute, we cannot spend that money for anything but 911 services. So, those are a couple of examples of restricted funds. And then we have Parks and Libraries, they also have their own reserve funds, about 16 million. And again, we do not mix those spatial taxing district funds with our general operating budget or our general reserves.
And then lastly, Wastewater at $77 million. That’s the biggest portion of our reserves. And we try to maintain about 2½ months of operating reserves in case I and everybody else don’t pay their bills, we got no money coming in. So, in order to protect our operating status we do maintain about 2½ months of reserves. And then about $57 million is in our Capital Reserve Account whether we have to do work on an emergency basis to repair lines. The other issue that we’re trying to address, we’re coming up on a decision about the Tomahawk Creek Sewer plant at Mission Road and 435. And we’re probably going to have to double the size of that plant and get away from paying Kansas City, Missouri all the money we’re paying to treat about 60 percent of the flow that goes through that plant onto Kansas City, Missouri. So, that $57 million reserve fund will help mitigate any rate increases. So, that’s the story on the reserve.
And I get asked many times, Chairman, why don’t you just spend that money. Well, I can’t because it’s in special accounts. I can spend the $62 million, but that means we lose our AAA bond rating. I mentioned we’re at 21 percent. Because of the tax lid passed by the legislature, Moody’s is indicating that they would like to see us at 30 percent. So, that number is probably going to go up. Hopefully we won’t have to go to 30 percent.
[Courts are the foundation of democracy slide]
On to the Courthouse. About 400,000 people each year pass through Johnson County Courthouse, which is in downtown Olathe. Most of those folks are like you and I who get called for jury duty. And that’s where most of the -- any Johnson County resident who is a registered voter is subject to being called for jury duty.
[Building History slide]
This is a brief history of the current courthouse facility. The first part was built in 1952, so it’s a little over 60 years old. We’ve had three renovations, the last one in 1975, 40 years old. Some of you will recall that. I think it was on the fourth or fifth floor of this existing courthouse was the jail for many, many years. And in ‘75, the jail was moved out. What happened was they did not remove the infrastructure, i.e. sewer pipes that supported the jail activity. And a couple of years ago those pipes are getting old enough and we had, believe it or not, sewer flies in some of the courtrooms. So, we had to go in and immediately fix that problem. Some problems like that continue to exist.
[Problems with current courthouse: Public safety and security slide]
The main problem is public safety. The current courthouse is configured on rectangular basis. Our public -- we have one public hallway on each floor. And the criminals who appear in court have to be moved through the public hallways. They do mix with the public, you and I, who might be there serving on a jury notice. And then secondly, some of our courtrooms are not configured, don’t have the space to configure them. And the District Attorney tells me on some of the jury trials a juror at the end of the jury box can almost reach out and touch the criminal that he’s hearing evidence about or against. So, the public safety issue is a real issue.
[Problems with current courthouse: Aging building slide]
The other issue is a decaying and deteriorating infrastructure. You’ve got a facility that’s 60 years old. You’re going to have significant maintenance problems. And this is just some examples. We have been on a maintenance mode for the last two or three years based upon getting a decision on a new courthouse. If we don’t have a new courthouse, we’re going to have to spend a lot more money on the existing courthouse and I’ll mention that.
[Current courthouse layout slide]
Here is the existing -- here is the layout, floor layout of the existing courthouse. The yellow is the public hallway. And again, the public and the prisoners move in the same hallway. The pink part are the courtrooms.
The plan is, Area Number 2 is where the current courthouse would be. The current courthouse would be torn down. That would become public space. And Area Number 1 is where the new courthouse would be built immediately north across Santa Fe. And Number 3 is the Olathe City Hall. So, it would be immediately west of the Olathe City Hall, the proposal.
[Proposal: Construct New Courthouse slide]
The new courthouse would cost $182 million. It would take about four years to build. We would eliminate the concern about public safety, moving prisoners, and the public in the hallways. We would be able to address significantly and completely ADA requirements.
[Cost breakdown slide]
Here is a further breakdown of what we estimate the cost to be, the actual construction cost about 178 million. And we’ve included tear-down cost as well as improvement to the public space to bring it up to 182 million.
[New courthouse layout slide]
Here is a potential configuration of the new courthouse. It would be nine stories high. Six stories would be used for courtrooms. We currently have 23 courtrooms in the existing facility. We need to build for 28 courtrooms, five additional courtrooms. And the reason I say that, if any of you saw the Wichita State University population study for Kansas issued about three months ago, Johnson County’s population is about 580,000 now. In 50 years, it is expected to be over 1.2 million. Our population will double during that time period. Fifty years is a long time. But that means we would have to average 10,000 new residents a year. Every six years, we would have 60,000 new residents in Johnson County. That number is equivalent to the current population of Manhattan, Kansas. So, think about it, every six years, we would have a population gain equal to Manhattan, Kansas. The pink is where the courtrooms would be. The yellow would be the public hallways. And you’ll notice between the pink areas there’s a green area. That’s where the secure elevators would be to move prisoners from level to level in the courthouse. And there would also be secure holding areas for the prisoners. They would never come in touch with the public, but they would securely move between the courtrooms and up and down the elevators and never be in the public hallways.
[Courthouse planning for future growth slide]
This just gives you an idea of the additional courts that we would plan for and the dockets that would have an additional court.
[Street view slide]
This is an artist’s concept of what a new courthouse might look like. It’s probably going to look nothing like this. It will be nine stories, but it kind of puts in perspective for the building.
And I’m going to turn it over to Steve Howe to give us a comment on the Coroner’s Facility.
MR. HOWE: First of all, it’s a pleasure to be here in my hometown and see all the Council on this important issue. The Coroner Facility, we don’t think about this, but what do they really do. Well, the coroner look to determine causes of death on a potential suicide situation, overdoses, criminal conduct, or just in a simple explanation if there’s a traffic accident and they’re having to determine why someone died. And sometimes civil suits are greatly impacted by the findings of the coroner.
So, the coroner has a role, not only in public safety, but also for the community at large. And the last component that no one talks about is the public health side, determining if there are diseases out there that puts the community at risk. So, those are all the coroner works on.
[Current coroner facility: contracted lab in KCK slide]
This is where we do our autopsies. So, when the Shawnee Police, the latest homicide in Shawnee, they went to the autopsy. They went to this facility in KCK. It’s a metal building. It’s basically an outbuilding that many of us who grew up in the country would recognize, and that’s where we conduct our autopsies. And it is owned by a private company. So, the Johnson County Government and the cities have no control over who does the autopsies and in what order. So, basically they decide when they’re going to do the autopsies. And sometimes that can delay findings weeks, sometimes up to a month, which has a great impact.
[The public safety need for a coroner facility slide 1]
And we talk about the impact of this type of facility. It’s not accredited. We’re lucky. The Johnson County Crime Lab is an accredited facility that, quite frankly, it’s probably one of the top five in the country and does great work and helps us solve a lot of crimes. Well, the coroner is a part of that process. And it’s not accredited and it’s not set up to handle today’s technology. A good example, if I touch this podium with my finger and the Crime Lab came back and swabbed it, they would probably get my DNA. It’s that sensitive now. And the sensitivity levels of DNA and other trace evidence is to the point where you have to be concerned about cross-contamination in a facility like this because it’s just open air. And in some instances there’s more than one body that’s going to be examined in that facility. So, that puts things at risk as far as -- and takes into question the coroner’s findings.
[The public safety need for a coroner facility slide 2]
It also doesn’t have an ability to do toxicology. And you may say, well, what’s the big deal about that. Currently what we do is we send out toxicology groups to a private facility out of town and wait weeks, sometimes up to a month for a result on the toxicology results. That can impact public health. A good example is just recently I talked about a new synthetic drug out there, U-47700 that can be purchased. It’s eight times more powerful than morphine. And so we’ve had three deaths related to this new synthetic drug. Well, we had to send off to a private group to find out what the cause of death, what was the drug, whereas, if you had a new facility you would be able to do it timely, which gives law enforcement and public health a heads up that we have a problem. Another example is, if you remember, Olathe Northwest had a child that had tuberculosis. And the public health people had to go out and do -- get samples to find out if any other students were at risk. Well, again, this facility could be set up to do immediately the testing that is needed to determine the scope of any problems for the public’s health. And the other thing is, when your police department goes out to the autopsies with my staff, we’re right there in close proximity to the body. That can put those individuals at risk as well. Current facilities are set up in viewing rooms where you’re set away from where the coroner is and you have cameras positioned so you can see the autopsy and have questions and talk to the coroner without putting those individuals at risk. And so those are some of the things that we cannot do with this current facility whatsoever. The other thing is we have had on many of occasions delays in the bodies being released because of our lack of capacity in this building. And that has been frustrating for people who have lost their loved ones, who want the body released so they can have a funeral. And that is a bit of a problem for us. The other thing is we had an expert come in and see how many autopsies we’re doing. And what he indicated is we’re not doing enough autopsies in Johnson County in order to really serve the people and the interest for public safety and public health. And what they said is, you know, a good example is, we know from our population base that we do not do enough autopsies on unattended deaths involving senior cities. And sometimes you will miss elder abuse cases as a result of that. And those are good examples of situations where if you had a facility with greater capacity and being able to control the work that we do that we’ll be able to provide greater capabilities to the public.
And the last thing is, you saw that building. It’s really not set up to have a compassionate type setting where the family members can come in and identify the bodies. And so for many reasons this facility doesn’t meet our current needs. And as we move forward in the future, clearly will not meet the needs of Johnson County.
MR. EILERT: Well, Steve, thank you very much. You should have mentioned that state statute requires the county to have a coroner and to provide coroner facilities as well as a courthouse.
[Proposed Johnson County coroner facility slide]
This proposed facility would be immediately south of the Crime Lab in the area of 119th and Ridgeview. The county already owns the property, so there would be no acquisition cost. And this would be a $19 million facility.
Financing[Public safety capital projects slide]
Just to move through the financing proposal. The courthouse $182 million, a coroner’s facility at $19 million. We’ve looked at a property tax. It would take about two mills of property tax over 20 years to finance both of these facilities. And your interest cost would be somewhere around $85 million.
[Public safety financing: ¼ cent sales tax slide]
We focused on the sales tax, a quarter cent sales tax, which for the county would generate about $20 million a year, and our interest costs would be about $40 million. So, by using the sales tax over ten years, we can cut our interests costs in our half.
[Public safety sales tax: impact on JoCo residents slide]
Another advantage of the sales tax, it’s about 22 percent of our sales tax is generated by visitors who come to Johnson County. If we used a property tax, only Johnson County property owners would pay that tax. You know, our sales tax rates vary from city to city. And my notes indicate that the basic sales tax rate in Shawnee is 9.35. Another quarter percent would put it at 9.6. I have not included any special taxing districts in that number, just the base rate. So, for $100, it’s an extra -- that quarter cent represents an extra $.25. $1,000, another $2.50. We recognize that always those merchants who sell large ticket items always have concerns, rightfully so. A $20,000 automobile with another quarter cent would be $50. A $30,000 automobile with another quarter cent would be $75. So, I think if you keep it in perspective, those numbers are understandable.
[Additional revenue to cities from ¼ cent public safety sales tax]
I mentioned that the state requires that the county share its sales tax with cities. And we have to share about one-third of that 30 million with cities. So, that’s about $10 million a year that would be shared with all of the cities. The formula the state lays out is assessed valuation and population. Those are the two calculations. And in the case of Shawnee, you would receive about 16, if I’m looking at that right, about $16 million over the ten-year period of time. So, each year you would have about, 164 million a year would be -- 1.6 million a year. Excuse me. I’m trying to get some of that back. Yeah. 1.6 million a year over that ten-year period of time.
[Existing courthouse continued use slide]
Now, the other question is, why not use the existing courthouse, you know. Well, here is the situation. Our estimate is that we would have to spend about $200 million in order to bring that courthouse up to standards that might be -- still would be short of a new courthouse. We have accessibility problems. We have infrastructure problems. The layout, we could spend $200 million renovating this existing courthouse and we still haven’t solved the problems of the prisoners and public mixing in the hallways. You can’t change the public hallway layout. And it would take, as I said, close to two mills over 20 years and your interest cost goes from about $40 million to $80 million. The other thing that happens with a new facility, you’ve got new construction standards. HVAC equipment are going to be much, much more efficient and effective.
[Cost comparisons over 20-year horizon (2018–2037)]
And so we looked at what it would -- the difference between the operations of a new courthouse and continuing to remodel the existing courthouse. And the number is about $7 million a year more for utilities and operational costs of the older courthouse.
[Tour the existing courthouse]
We have set up tours for the existing courthouse. If anyone is interested in that, we have dates and times set up. And there’s a number there that you can call and reserve. I would suggest if you haven’t been in the courthouse since you’ve got that marriage certificate, you should come out and take one of the tours.
[Contact us or learn more:]
Another issue we -- on our website, jocopublicsafety.org, the information we presented this evening, as well as the video, which we’ll show immediately, is also on that website for viewing.
So, with that, Stephen, if we can power up the video. We need to back it up a little.
(Videotape Played to the Councilmembers and audience)
One question I get frequently is what is Plan B if the sales tax does not pass. There is no Plan B. We either build a new courthouse or we continue to invest significantly higher and higher sums of money in the existing courthouse. If we build new, we can use the sales tax. If we have to invest more and more money in the existing facility, then we have to use the property tax. You know, in renovating this structure, we can’t close the courthouse down for a year. You can’t do that. Most of the renovations would have to occur at night. And contractors tell me you could expect a cost increase of something 20, maybe even 25 percent to the cost of renovation just simply because you’ll have to do the remodel at night.
So, the information we presented this evening is information. It’s educational. That’s what we’re required to do with a county publication. I’m not a county publication. I don’t live under that same requirement. And I would encourage you to examine the information and to vote yes in November. We will have a private advocacy group put together to support this measure. If you would like to become involved in that effort, please let me know. Or all you have to do is set up some of these links on your Facebook or whatever social media you have and you can link right into this presentation as well as the video and share that with friends and neighbors. So, thank you very much. If there’s questions, I’ll be glad to respond. But do appreciate your time.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure. Thank you, Chairman Eilert and District Attorney Howe. Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yes, Chairman Eilert, I had just a couple questions.
MR. EILERT: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: If this takes four years to building where is everybody going to go? What’s the plan for the folks that do the work and services now for that four-year period?
MR. EILERT: Well, they would have to be -- continue in the existing courthouse.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I thought you were going to raze it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: It’s not on the same site.
MR. EILERT: After the new one is constructed.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Okay. That answers that question. Okay. Then as far as parking, once you get the big new facility built, where are you going to put all these folks coming out there to Johnson County Courthouse.
MR. EILERT: That’s a good question. Initially, you know, we would not need a large number of new parking spaces. But across Kansas Avenue at the location of the new courthouse, proposed courthouse, is a large city lot. And that lot would be available. So, in the case of the current parking structure by the admin building there on Cherry Street, obviously you would have to walk about another half a block. But for the time being and probably for the foreseeable future, that lot immediately west across Kansas Avenue would suffice.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Okay. Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yes. First of all, I would like to thank you, Jim, for coming tonight. It’s very interesting information. Just would throw out a little thing here. Last year, last time we had an initiative in Shawnee was our Parks, Pipes and Pavement. It was at the bottom of four pages. But going back and looking at that, when -- courtesy of staff and everybody and the Council promoting it to the citizens of Shawnee and educating them why it was so important to us, the voter turnout actually was 11 percent more votes cast than were cast for you, sir, in that election.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Ouch.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: So, my point being is that I feel that our citizenry, you know, the education you suggested is very important. But I think if we make a good case for the citizens in Shawnee, and I understand the significance of this and why it’s needed, I would hope that they would support it. Thank you again.
MR. EILERT: Well, yes, I would, too. And that’s a good comment. And I’ll give you an exact number. I think the last time I counted the chair’s position is at the bottom of the ballot and there were 22,000 fewer votes cast for that position than there was for the top of the ballot. And so that’s an issue that we have to deal with. But getting the message out, we hope it will make a difference. Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Any other questions?
MR. EILERT: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Thank you for taking the time. All right. I guess I will say before we officially close on this, is there anyone from the audience who would like to speak to this item? Sir, yeah. Come on up. If you’ll state your name and address for the record.
MR. BRUNING: Thank you. Hi. I’m Ken Bruning, (Address Omitted) in Shawnee. Thank you for giving me a moment. I’m not trying to rain on the parade here, but I’ve been a resident of Johnson County for 11 years now and a taxpayer. And this proposal, wow, it looks absolutely fantastic. I can really say I didn’t come here to address this tonight, but I was impressed with what I saw. But as a taxpayer, I also have one really big concern that I’ve been noticing of late, and I don’t know why just of late, but I’m concerned that we seem to have public buildings financed by the taxpayers that are falling into disrepair on a regular basis. I recall not too very long ago the need to replace a school that was only 20 years old. We have a courthouse that granted is much older than that. But my concern is these buildings are not being properly maintained. And if they’re not being properly maintained, I can’t help but feel that they’re not being properly inspected. I come from a transportation background originally, specifically in aviation. And you all probably well know that we have jetliners out there that are 30 and 40 years old and by most people’s standards you wouldn’t think you wouldn’t want to get on those airplanes. But coming from that background, I also was heavily involved in understanding completely that aircraft are routinely inspected and routinely maintained. Public transportation is routinely inspected and routinely maintained and repaired. And I just have a little bit of concern as to why this isn’t happening with our public buildings, whether they be city buildings or county building. I would feel very good about supporting this additional expenditure that I know I’ll be helping to pay for if I were assured that we could start putting into place routine inspections of these buildings to keep them safe, keep them dry and keep them maintained, and in some cases work towards upgrading the facility so we don’t suddenly have a fire drill that this building is falling down on us and we have absolutely no choice, but to replace it. I think it’s a responsibility for all of us, particularly those on the Council, whether it be the county or the city, to ensure that these facilities are, in fact, under some sort of routine schedule where they’re going to be properly maintained so the taxpayers don’t get kind of sidelined or sideswiped with a sudden, oh, we need a whole new building. That’s my comment. Thank you. I appreciate your letting me speak.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Thank you, sir. And if you’ll sign the form on the podium, please. Thank you. Oh, I guess it’s right here. Thank you. Is there anyone else from the audience who would like to speak to this item? All right. Seeing none, we will move on. Thank you.
2. BUDGET PRESENTATION - 2016R/2017 BUDGET: WRAP-UP AND DISCUSSION
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: The second item this evening is a Budget Presentation on the 2016R/2017 Budget, Including Wrap Up and Discussion. Public presentations and discussions for the 2016 Revised and 2017 Budgets began in March. Carol Gonzales, City Manager, will make a brief presentation and the remainder of the time will be available for discussion of the budget. And we will welcome Carol momentarily.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Good evening. I’m going to start with a little overview of the Nieman Road Corridor concept, which was a concept that was brought up during the budget process and during our SMAC allocations. And Councilmember Jenkins suggested perhaps we could expedite things and debt finance projects as opposed to cash-funding them and spreading them over the next ten years. So, we have actually spent quite a bit of staff time just looking at the concept because I think it’s real doable, is what I hoped the memo conveyed and what I’ll talk about. So, I’m going to run through that and then a few budget wrap-up things and then we’ll discuss and answer questions.
So, just as a reminder, we have several Nieman Road, Nieman Corridor projects in play right now. So, there’s three stormwater, actually I guess three future ones plus the one we’re doing now, Nieman South, which is already underway. And then two future street projects are currently in the forecasts, the Nieman Road and then Flint Street is shown in the Special Highway Forecast in 2018 as a SIP project. If you’ll remember it was one of the higher priority curb and gutter projects. So, we looked at possible debt funding for these SMAC stormwater projects, the ones going forward. We’ve updated some of the costs since you’ve seen them last now that we’re into the Nieman South project and we’ve converted to the vertical walls. There was a few updates continuing those vertical walls on up, so that impacted some of the costs for some of the future projects.
So, the chart in your packet showed -- I isolated out this. The stormwater projects first. So, the 6200 block Nieman Middle, Nieman North is kind of what we call them by -- or Nieman North and Nieman Middle. And currently they’re in the forecast, cash funded through 2024. Total cost of these projects is about $19 million. The really cool cost about them is that 62 percent of these are scheduled and eligible for SMAC funding. Of which we think we still have access to for the next few weeks. We’re kind of waiting to hear after this meeting and the budget to let us know that if we let them know we’d like to move ahead with all these projects, then they have indicated they think that’s possible. And like I said, the updated costs include the vertical walls. So, these are the projects. This is the easier picture for me. The green is the project that’s underway currently Nieman South. And then the yellow is the 6200, blue is the middle and red is the north project.
The street projects which are underway or in the forecast include Nieman Road and then Flint. And so this just sets out the funding structure right now as we currently have for those projects. The Nieman Road is eligible and approved for CARS funding, which is really a great 50-50 cost. It helps us cover that. And then the Flint is scheduled, as I said, in 2018, with the accumulated. We’ve been the accumulating the SIP, that portion of that SIP sales tax, and think by ‘18 we would have enough funding to do the Flint project. So, we want to look at all these projects kind of comprehensively because they, as was pointed out, they overlap. And we don’t want to be building something and tearing it up two years later.
So, the expedited timeline, and so you’ve got two great big sheets in front of you. And I apologize for the viewers because they were just too big to put in the PowerPoint and the font is so small they’re even difficult at this size. But you’ve got timelines. One that shows the current timeline that’s got all the little dashed marks kind of across it. And that shows that it’s going to be -- we’re going to do them as we accumulate cash with them concluding in 2024. The one that has the longer lines shows kind of what our thoughts are on how these projects might overlap, work together. We talked about Nieman Road and the middle, Nieman middle project, perhaps even bidding those together, same contractor, or partnering contracting to do them simultaneously which would make a whole lot of sense and be a really good option. We think we would get some really good bids if we moved this fast and expedite the timeline because of the economies of scale. We do believe we’d need one more engineering tech. There’s just a lot of personal property owner relationships that we have to work with on easements and keeping everybody informed of the projects, sending out a lot of notices and acquisition of those easements. So, it probably would take one more tech position to make all this happen. So, then we look at the forecasts and just kind of how these fit in the forecast.
So, this is the full funding picture looking out for the three different projects, just again to the SMAC projects. And you can see where the -- if we were going to debt finance them that we’ve kind of allocated costs across not just Parks and Pipes. There’s wasn’t kind enough to do them in Parks and Pipes, but there was a little bit of room in debt service as we’ve talked about. We’re freeing up a little bit of space there. And some additional allocations, that we look at the Economic Development Fund to fill that gap. So, that’s the funding structure that we would recommend at this point. And again, continue to look at it if we choose to move forward.
Ten-year bonds. $7.45 million including issuance costs. And again, the beauty of this is the Parks and Pipes is paying 75 percent of the cost of the projects.
So, pros of moving ahead. We can leverage $15 million in SMAC and CARS funding right away. We have the opportunity to integrate some projects, maybe get some economies of scale. And truly the end of ‘18, have transformed downtown pretty significantly with these four creek projects, Nieman Road improvement. And if we get Flint done also it would be a really huge impact in a relatively short period of time.
Cons. There’s issuance costs. Obviously when you debt finance instead of cash fund, again, we don’t know what kinds of cost savings we might get on the other side by bidding things together. And we do need additional, one additional staff person to make this happen. We have, as you all know, you all have, we’ve done a good job with our debt over the last few years. Really haven’t introduced many new debt funded projects. And hopes of bringing that down, we’ve been reallocating some mills as they become available and putting them in places that we needed for operation costs and paying some big projects off. So, that really is one of the reasons that it gives that little gap of funding to help make this happen also.
Then these would be the forecasts updated since you first saw them, I think May 17th, showing these projects plugged in. So, if you look down at the bottom the highlights in blue show that those payments as were on the previous slide from the Parks and Pipe fund. And you can see it retains a balance. These forecasts are ten years. They don’t go out as far as this project would go, as the debt payments would go on this project. But the balance of the funding ending 2026 would be adequate to pay the bond payments.
Economic Development Fund, similarly, just shows that debt payments.
And the Debt Service Fund shows those smaller payments.
And I guess one of the things we also could have included on the cons, may or may not be a con, you know, we are committing our SMAC funding for the next ten years. Doesn’t mean we might not get more SMAC funding through the process, but we would have -- we would be receiving quite a bit of SMAC funding at one time and that might play into some future allocations in the next years. It might not. They’re looking, currently looking at the structure of that and I think going to come forward soon with some recommendations to allow that SMAC funding to be used for maintenance in addition to flooding, which is what the restriction has been in the past.
But it really seems like doable. Like a good way to use or leverage that SMAC funding, maximize it. Get a lot of stuff done soon. It’s pretty ambitious, but we’re kind of excited and think we could take it on. But there’s a debt funding versus cash funding. I know that’s a consideration also. I’m a cash girl. I like to pay cash for things. But I also get excited when I think about really making some transforming improvements to downtown in a really short period of time. So, a decision for you all to think about.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Carol, real quick. We ballpark SMAC a lot of times at 3 to 1 match and this is saying 62 percent. What goes into factoring the match percentage?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: It’s a 75-25.
MR. WESSELSCHMIDT: Road maintenance is not eligible in the driveway property acquisition.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: So, there’s portions of the entire project that aren’t eligible for that 75-25.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Okay. So, delaying -- delaying the SMAC funds wouldn’t get us any different percentage. This 62 percent is regardless of when we do it?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And again, it’s an estimate --
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: -- based on what that easement acquisition that we think we will have on these particular projects.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Okay. Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Carol, what was the bottom line on how much SMAC funding we would be actually putting into this that we obtain for the county? Because we’re putting out, what, $8.8 million, something like that? How much do we anticipate we’ll be getting in money from the county? Sixty-percent, whatever that it. I was just curious what the number was. What is it, 10, 11?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Do I have a slide that says?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: The total project cost is 19.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Oh, the total. Yeah.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Twelve million.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And we’re putting out 8, so that means it’s about 11 I guess. Okay. We’re what, 8.8? Yeah. 8.8.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: We’re at 8.8.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And I think the project is 19. So, we’d be leveraging about 10.2 million from the county by doing this?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Sorry. I’m going back one at a time, 11.7.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: To be exact, yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mickey.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: That’s a good buy on your money when you can pick up almost $12 million.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Sure is.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And with the price of money right now on bonds, it’s just about free money, darn near. It’s as close as you’re going to get in our lifetime.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Right now didn’t you say that there were other cities that refused to some of it at this time because they couldn’t qualify for the matching funds and so there’s an extra amount available that we’re able to get into?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I don’t know the reasons why other cities have turned down funds specifically, but they have.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: And so we can get more this year.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And so there is more money available right now. And these projects, through their annual process they have bumped down to offer us these projects. And right now they’re holding that offer open for a little bit longer.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Which would be a benefit for us at this moment.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I think it fits in real well with a lot of the street maintenance we’re doing, too. We’re going to get that done. We can get our streets on some of that and we’re not tearing things back out and replacing them again and doing all that kind of stuff. It’s just more money. It would cost more money. So, just bam, get her done and move on.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: No, I agree. And, you know, I’ve said that from day one that I don’t want to piecemeal this and stretch it out. And the nice thing is we’ve already done all the legwork. We’ve already done all the steering committee. I mean, it’s not like this landed in our lap and we’re starting from zero going, okay, let’s figure out what we’re going to do. We’re done. And now what we’ve been figuring out is, okay, we know what we want to do, so how are we going to pay for it. And now we know. So, I mean, it’s kind of perfect timing. What really kind of drives this home for me is I got a call from a dentist on Nieman Road the other day. Yeah. Different dentist. Who has offices in the building on Nieman Road and he called me and asked what his building worth. And it was interesting because he’s actually been looking on Shawnee Mission Parkway. And I asked him why and he said, well, is anything going to happen with Nieman Road. He said I’m not sure I want to stay on Nieman. It just doesn’t look good and it’s not conducive to my business and I’m really thinking about moving, you know, further down on Shawnee Mission Parkway. And so that was a big concern of mine. I mean, that’s -- when we talk about dentist, that kind of office, that brings a lot of people to a spot every day. I mean, how many people come to your office every day? So, how many of those people, but how many of the people go to Hereford House or might pop across the street and that’s what it is.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No. Their mouth hurts.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But, you know, I mean when you look at Nieman, and our whole goal on Nieman is to bring people to the corridor. And when you have a doctor or a dentist --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Go out by Walmart and buy some --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: -- or anything like that that’s concerned with the look and feel of the corridor and wants to leave, that’s the kind of business that the people are going -- than be redirected somewhere else and that clientele is not going to end up no Nieman. And so it was just a real interesting perspective. And we’ve been hearing it. But with everything that’s happened and my conversation was, sit tight. Just give me a few weeks here and we might have some information for you because I think we are trying to make this happen. And I think it will keep him on Nieman hopefully. But that’s, you know, that’s kind of what we’re faced with on this corridor is attracting people.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I think Eric and then Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I just had another comment, too, about the -- you talk about we need one staff position, the technician because of the considerable extra work load and really working with the residents primarily and all the issues that come out of that. I would really like to take a look at that in terms of probably a term appointment or something like that if we could, unless we project over a -- we can honestly project over a long period of time this position is going to be absolutely necessary in the out years as well beyond this project.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Well, it is a position that we needed even without this project. So, I can guarantee there’s plenty of work for that position to do.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Because, yeah, I would just hate to hire him for a surge and then --
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I know.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: -- we’ve got this extra staff position. And I don’t want to let people go. Once we hire them, we kind of like -- they’ve got a career, they’re working here and all that kind of stuff. So, I don’t want to just hire people and then no more work for you, sorry, you’ve got to go kind of thing.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Yeah. And this would be a surge, but there is already enough demand right now for that position that we’d put them on this project priority. But then following that there would be plenty of other opportunities for work for them to do.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. I just would like to echo what I’ve heard up here and you all have heard. I think since -- it looked like it’s doable. It’s an excellent opportunity. I think it would show definite leadership of the Governing Body to step up and say we need to do this. We need to get something going along Nieman and everything else. And we’re going to do it and will kick start a lot of them. Just as Jeff suggested I’m sure there will be a lot of telephone calls that will keep Ms. Ellie and Andrew very busy with people who will be wanting -- seeing we’re willing to do something and then they will be willing to come. You know, if you build it, they will come, I hope. But, no, I think it’s a good idea.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And I might just add also that in August we’ll be planning on the August Committee meeting for a presentation on the Nieman Road project, for the final report of that. So, ties in very well all this planning that we’ve been doing really has come together really well.
Okay. I’m sensing a consensus. So, we will adapt the forecasts in the budget that way. And so as we move forward that’s what you’ll see.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Great. Thank you.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Okay. Just a few things on budget wrap-up. This is certainly not everything that’s in the budget, but just to hit some of the highlights, clarify the things that are in. These all things you heard about at the last meeting or previous meetings. I don’t think there’s any big surprise. I did want to mention I did have a meeting today with Jo Gellar at the Park and Rec District. Told her we would be back in touch with her, maybe with a letter from the Mayor. And she’s very open to collaborating on a study. We kind of talked about whether we end up managing it or the county ends up managing it wouldn’t it benefit all of us if we could maximize the economic impact of that facility. So, she was very pleased that the City would help participate. They might participate. So, that’s kind of a work in progress. And that will come back to you again before we do more final work on it. But it was a good discussion.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Carol, just a comment on that ballfield thing. I’ve talked to several of the folks on the City staff as well on this at one time or another. But when you look at the City of Shawnee and why would you come to Shawnee. I mean, if you’re living in Palo Alto, California, why would you want to come to Shawnee for Christ’s sake, you know. But I’ve looked at that ballfield and we have some very, very extensive sports venues in this community, much more than the average community. And we already do draw some national tournaments in here and so on. And I am a proponent of really building on that base and being a destination. Because I don’t think -- Old Shawnee Town is great, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of people going to come here to go to Old Shawnee Town unless they live in the metro or they -- it’s a drive-to kind of thing. But as far as, boy, getting folks coming in here for national baseball tournaments, softball tournaments, volleyball tournaments, things like that. We’re building those new hotels. Let’s fill those guys up. Let’s plus up what the Hereford House is doing out there. Maybe some more restaurants to service that group because that’s the one area I really see. And maybe I’m myopic in this, but that’s the one area I’m seeing that actually could be something we could turn ourselves into a destination spot with that.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I certainly think it has potential and we’ve finally got hotel rooms to really support that kind of thing, so.
Just wanted to touch on a few things, make sure in the forecasts, because we didn’t spend a lot of time on those. You had them in your notebook. Most of them were similar to what we had talked about in years past, so we didn’t go through those a lot this year with the kind of new format. But just to make sure you all had noticed a few things that I think are important. So, in the debt service fund there is -- we’ve talked about this. Doug has talked about the $8 million of stuff we know right now could break today. By 2019, we did plug an $8 million bond issue into the Debt Service Fund. Obviously I’d rather cash fund that. Obviously I’d rather do it today, but that amount and those bond payments are programmed in the forecast starting in 2019, which means we could probably do those repairs in 2018. So, I wanted to make sure that you had noticed that. Again, I think 2018 is too late, but it’s better than nothing. And the debt funding is in there.
There is bond issues for Clear Creek Parkway we talked about. Nieman South, part of the new alignment for the Nieman South project, which unfortunately keeps increasing in cost. Our bids were not very low this week, so we’ve had to make a few more accommodations. We’ll be bringing that on Monday night.
The Nieman Road improvements, 43rd Street, again, is out in ‘19. We’ll see how that progresses if the need arises. Monticello South is a CARS project scheduled in 2020. So, those things are out there in the future. Not anything you’re approving during this budget process, but just thought it was important to know that they are out there.
The other thing that’s out there, and I don’t think we talked about really at all, but there is $100,000 in the Land Use Fund for a new visioning. We did talk a little bit about the old number is probably an old number and we have kept pushing that out. There is actually a fund balance. We could do that in ‘17 if we wanted to. You know, there’s a balance of how excited do we get about something whether or not we’re going to be able to afford it or not. But there’s enough fund balance to do it in ‘17, but right now it’s currently programmed in ‘18. So, if you did want to move that to ‘17, that would be something we would want to include in a budget, some budget direction to us.
What’s not in the budget. I wanted to be clear. So, everything on the list that was on that prioritization sheet, which is I think the next slide of the PowerPoint. None of that is in there except for that $8 million bond issue that’s plugged out in ‘19. The other thing that’s out, and I just want to be clear because we talked about it several times. But the beautification for Shawnee Mission Parkway Corridor, which I think is a great plan. But I think we were clear, but I want to make sure you all knew that’s not included in the budget anywhere at this time.
So, this is the prioritization worksheet that was distributed to you all with my recommendations. Heard back from some folks, about seven out of the eight of you got some response back of some kind. Four of the -- seven of you completed the actual form. So, this is just a graph kind of showing where the support lies for the various items. So, the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 are just people across the top. So, for example, there were three people that supported this Community Strategic Planning. Some people supported things at a lower mill levy. You know, maybe not five police officers, but one police officer. We didn’t get into that level of detail with this. We just thought this was a good representation for you all to start a discussion about priorities and what you would like to include.
And this is the slide from last time that I thought probably leave this slide up and then maybe just begin some discussion.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Great.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Staff is here with as many answers as we can come up with. So, hopefully we can answer about anything you might have tonight.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sounds like a challenge.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And we’ll do our best.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Thank you, Carol. Well, I think, depending on the Committee’s opinion on this, we can either start with digging into the Council priorities. Maybe looking at some of these that got three or four votes on the survey, or, Eric, if you would like to discuss the proposal that you sent out to everyone, or I sent out on your behalf rather, last week. We can certainly start there as well.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. I’d be happy to start.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Go for it.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I looked at all this information and presented a memo to Carol that I had her share with the rest of the Council concerning how I saw the budget for the -- the upcoming budget we’re looking at right now. And I made some very definitive points such as in this sentence here, “First, the budget proposal exceeds current revenue.” And I am opposed to spending more of the taxpayers’ money than we were provided. And while I accept the need to use fund bonds to fund large capital improvement projects, the annualized cost of these bond funds must fit within the annual budget. And I also stated that I’m adamantly opposed to a tax increase of any sort of right now. We’ve been through a number of tax increases. We just had another tax increase presented to us tonight by the county. And the burden is just getting progressively more difficult for our residents, well, county-wide, but I’m more interested right now in Shawnee, of course. And I think it’s getting to the point where it’s push-back time. We have to live within our budgets. I think we’re not the only one having a hard time trying to keep services going in the City. People are having trouble just keeping their -- paying their rent and paying their car payments and taking care of their kids. So, I think we all need to share the burden. I think it should be shared across the board by the taxpayers as well as us here in the City. I still see in the budget proposal a lot of bleed over from wants to needs. And that has always concerned. I know that it’s sometime a fine line. What is really needed and what should we really be providing as a City in terms of services and work as far as public safety, infrastructure repair, Parks and Rec and all those things. But what part of those are needs and what part are wants? Because my position that right now I feel like we are -- that we have not come out of the economic downturn. I don’t think the information we’re being fed is really the right information. If you look at the actual unemployment rates it’s not what they’re saying it is. There’s a whole lot of people that have dropped out of the workforce frankly. And those of us that follow that information fairly closely know that the numbers are really pretty bogus. There’s a lot of people not working right now. And when they’re not working they’re not spending money and they’re not paying sales taxes. And that’s impacting on us significantly. Our sales taxes have been pretty static for some time now with minor fluctuations up and down. But not meeting those kind of projections that we had for our sales taxes. So, I kind of find ourselves in a situation where, you know, it’s not happening for us. The income is not coming in like we’d like it to come in, so there comes a time where you’ve got to show some responsibility, so I can’t spend what I don’t have. And while some capital improvements may override that because they’re capital improvements and that’s the only way you can get them done is to leverage larger sums of money. Your operating costs, your day-to-day costs have to be treated just like we treat them at home. You know, hey, kids, we can’t go to Disneyland this year because the transmission broke on the car and we’ve got to fix that. And now I’m the big ogre, I’m the daddy that just told my kids we can’t go to Disneyland. But that’s the reality. We don’t have the money, guys, so we can’t go this year. I think we are going to get out of this mess. I think we will see daylight. I think it will come around. But I would like to just keep our budget at last year’s level until we start seeing the turnaround and we actually can say I can reach out and touch it. We will have increased revenue. We are doing better. Hey, we can start loosening up and we can start moving forward. But to -- I think we looked at that last year and kind of thought that was going to happen this year and we kind of loosened our wallets a little bit last year based on projections that the sales tax increase is going to be more robust than they’ve been in the past. And things are turning around. We were turning the corner and things are going to look good, so we did some things last year and that didn’t happen. So, here we find ourselves, you know, looking at income doesn’t match outgo, so we need to pull our horns in a little bit. And I think, well, like you said, in short, I believe the budget breaks the bank. It doesn’t reflect accurately the budget limitations that we must deal with. I think that if we raise taxes we are putting an unfair hardship on the Shawnee families. Property taxes are rising rapidly with the reassessments coming in annually with very large increases. And Carol showed me mine last meeting and mine looks like a rocket taking off from a launching pad. And, yes, we’re still just slightly below that previous level where we were at all-time highs. But, wow, based on that trend I’m going to be paying a whole lot more taxes than I’ve paid before which is within the next year and two years. So, there’s another obviously source of income for the community, but it’s based upon those kind of projections. You know, I just don’t see the trends changing real soon. And we’ve got to be dealing within our means. And we have the largest commercial base we’ve ever had. And based on that, you have to expect we’re going to get some increases. The economic development guy has been doing some good things. We’ve got more businesses. It’s great to go to Johnny’s Tavern. It’s great to have new hardware stores and all this stuff. And those are going to produce for us. But right now they haven’t reached that yet. So, I think it requires a little patience on our part. We have to just kind of be patient a little bit. I think we’re going to get there. We’re going to be fine. But in the meantime, we’ve got to do what we do at our households and that’s tighten the belt and hang in there until that time does get there and that boss does give you the raise or whatever. You know, the City is kind of an unusual position. Who else gets to go in and demand their boss give them a raise? Somehow we got the idea in the City we can go demand that we be given a raise to function with. And who told us we could do that? I mean, where did that right come from? We work for the folks. And right now the folks that are talking to me, and we all talk to different folks who are from different wards and stuff, but the ones that talk to me say, kindly give us a break. We’re up against the wall. We need a break here, so please don’t increase our taxes. We’ve just got to make do for a while and that’s who I’m here to represent. I’m here to represent them. So, it is a representative form of government. I told them I’d have their backs. And by gosh, I want to have their backs. And so I can’t support a tax increase at this time. So, these budget numbers we’re throwing out there and so on, I feel like they have to be able to fall within the 2016/2016R budget numbers. And if we can just hang on for a year or two, I think we’re going to be okay. I didn’t put it up right up front that, you know, we do need to keep -- I say in here I strongly opposed increasing staff levels in any other area other than public safety and infrastructure. I mean, those are must do functions of the City. So, those are in the need category when you’re talking about public safety and infrastructure. We have to provide those services. They’re absolutely required. And so, therefore, I don’t want to short those in any way. But in other areas, I know it’s painful in some of the departments, wow, we’re making do with less and this kind of thing. But you know what, there’s times when you make do with less, and that’s pretty much my position on it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. If you don’t mind, then after getting the overview from you, we have printed copies. I kind of I guess sort of highlighted some of your specifics. So, if we go through this. The first one is that the budget, as you mentioned, not exceed last year’s budget. That’s kind of an -- I don’t know if you want to discuss that as a Council separately. It probably will flush out as we get through these other things, so maybe that’s more of an overarching. The second is not to increase staff levels aside from public safety and infrastructure. I believe that is the case in the current budget right now, aside from the position we all just sort of tentatively agreed to with the Nieman Corridor project.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And some of that, of course, talks to things that are already there, yes. But that’s kind of just restating the position on some of those things where we’re already at.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure. And I just wanted to make sure we have it all covered. So, there are some positions that we will get to when we get into this graph up here that specifically deals [inaudible].
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: There is one IT position also in the budget. And then that small conversion of a part-time to full-time in Public Works.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, then the third that I see in our list is, “I fully believe that a ten percent cut can be made from current budget projections.” Do you have a specific suggestion on where the ten percent comes from, or do you want to flush that out at all?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, you had to get the whole budget sheet out.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Because it’s all itemized. And there’s things like professional services. There is supplies. I worked at the Government for 30 years and we could take percent out of our budget and we could survive. I mean, any year I worked there. And, of course, you want those things. They make your life easier as an employee. It makes things a whole lot easier when you have all the resources you’d like to have. But when you don’t have all the resources, guess what, life goes on and you do your job, then we still work it. And as we come out of this thing those sorts of things can be added back in as the revenues improve.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. I see what you’re saying. I would just not, playing devil’s advocate on behalf of I guess everyone to better understand it. It’s a little tricky for us to say, okay, we want to cut ten percent when the suggestion of where hasn’t been outlined.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Even things like trips, for example. I mean, how many of you guys need to go to Washington, D.C. and things like that. I’ve had some real hard feelings about that. Because I think when we send councilmen and people up on these trips to these various meetings that we attend as a community, first of all, there is no objectives established for that. Why are we going? I mean, what are we going to accomplish when we get there? And whether we accomplish this or not, at least there should be some kind of brief back. I’ve never heard as a City Councilman any kind of brief back on what we got out of that trip. We spend thousands of dollars to send folks up there. Did we get anything? Is there any product from that? Or was that just a nice vacation or whatever? I think oftentimes maybe one or two people could do that. The Mayor, City Manager, perhaps the Council President. And we talk among these Committee meetings about what we would like to accomplish while we’re there, what we hope to get out of that. Whether it’s training or whether it’s lobbying or whatever it is we’re trying to do. And then when the folks get back they literally brief the Council on, hey, this is what -- we were successful, here is what we did. Or we weren’t successful, it really stunk. We didn’t get anything out of the darn trip. But whatever. There’s some kind of accountability there. It’s not just a -- it’s not just another trip. And once again, I don’t like to look at these little bitty pieces like that, but I’m using that as an example pretty much. And this goes throughout the budget. I mean, it’s just -- it’s just the mechanics of working in a public service office to a certain extent.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure. And again, I’m just trying to make sure that we fully, you know, have the conversation about all the pieces of this. So, I was trying to get some parameters on the ten percent. I think, Mickey, you have a question or comment?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Yes. On the Council travel. There has been various items that have come back. One of them is our recycling plan that we had put together. We have had several different, you know, items that we had brought in from the conventions. You get to sit down and come up with new ideas from other cities all over the country. There’s so many pluses in this. You get to also lobby to the federal government of what the cities need and, you know, try to get them to back off of some of what they’ve been taking like our CDBG money and different things that they’re trying to take.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: You know, that wasn’t the point though, Mickey, if you were listening. The point was we’d go up with a plan. And we have forecast. This is what we’re going for.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Well, I understand. Let me finish.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: We have a reason to be going and this is what we’re going for.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And when we come back, you’re telling me now at a Council meeting what you got. I have never heard any of this before.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Okay. Well, you never go.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, there is no process. There’s no process for feedback.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: You don’t go, so.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: There’s no process for managing it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: But let me finish now.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Okay. There’s classes on education. Some of us didn’t know everything when we came in here. We have to go out and learn a little bit. And they have different classes and things to help us understand budgeting, priority budgeting, how to get along, how to work with constituents, how to see what you need in the city. You wonder what these trips are. The City Council, part of these trips are very minor from when you look into that category of trips, that also includes our City employees and our police officer, our Fire Department, all the people that have to be certified every year. And we have to keep them all certified. That all goes into that also when you look at that category of trips and travel. So, you need to look deeper into it before you start picking on it because some of it is a must and we have to do it in order to stay certified and keep our guys educated and trained.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: You go first.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sorry. So, total budget for next $101 million. So, we’re talking a ten percent cut would be $10 million from the budget just to be clear on that. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No, no, no.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: That’s my [inaudible]. You’re correct.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I’m sorry, Jim. So, how is that incorrect? Yeah. Go ahead. That’s what I’m just trying to clarify.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No. Obviously you can’t -- it’s not a ten percent direct cut because there’s only certain thing that are not already fixed expenses. The payroll is a fixed expense as it exists right now. Certainly any kind of contract or leases we have are fixed expenses. Really you can’t come up with $10 million. It would be nice if you could. I’d love that. That would be fantastic.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: You’re only able to work with those parts of the budget that are not fixed costs. Things like supplies and things like, like I’m talking about professional services, those kind of things. Those aren’t really necessarily locked in concrete. You can adjust those. So, yeah. You’re not able to take a ten percent of the $101 million. It just wouldn’t be feasible.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I agree with you. Again, I’m just trying to put a fine point on this because we can’t really pass sort of an addendum to the budget that says ten percent should be cut, which was a part of the -- that was in your memo. I’m trying to clarify what the ten percent parameter was. Whether it was $10 million which was the total budget, or a specific part of it. So, it’s hard without drill down details. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Gee, whiz, where to start. I got priority based budgeting here. I know where everything is and where we spend it. And I think an arbitrary ten percent cut in service in, you know, where are you going to -- I think that would be extremely difficult to do. We have worked on priority based budgeting for over five years. We’ve talked about it. We go to classes when we go to NLC. It is working. The state of Kansas even is finally going to take it. Probably a little -- never mind. So, what I am saying is that, you know, we’ve got it here. I think we have a very -- certainly there might be some things, but, you know, the City of Shawnee has not raised the mill levy in the last ten years. In the last ten years the CPI for the urban area has gone up 36 percent, and we still haven’t raised the mill levy. Maybe we should have, but there have been other things involved in it. So, we have definite needs that we have to take care of at this point in time to meet the services of our people. To say people are hurting and things and sale tax, the problem is the state of Kansas is hurting. The state of Kansas basically is in a recession. You look at every other city, excuse me, every other state around the state of Kansas in the United States, Kansas is behind them, a little behind Oklahoma. But the others have several percentage points more growth than the state of Kansas. And I agree with you, yes, we’re going to come out of it. But I don’t believe we can pretend to be an ostrich and just say, well, we’re not going to do anything for another two years. We did that in 2010 and 2011 when we had the economic downturn and we are just now getting caught back up. And to pull our horns in I think would further slow things down. So, that’s enough for now.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: You know, I read Councilman Jenkins’ suggestions, and just based on what you just said, I think I just have to kind of object to a few things you said. Number one, you talk about we’ve had a lot of tax increases lately. And really the biggest tax increase we’ve seen was the 3/8th cent road tax, which I supported aggressively. And we didn’t impose that, we put it on a ballot. And by 70-some percent it passed. And so what it tells me is, well, there’s 30 percent of people out there saying I don’t want a new tax. Seventy percent plus said, no, I do, and I want a better city. And that’s what we’re giving them with it. And I sat in a meeting -- we were both in a meeting at the Mayor’s coffee the other day, and I think the first three people that spoke just out of the blue praised how much new asphalt they’re seeing and how thankful they were that we’re paving roads in Shawnee because we gave them an opportunity. We gave them a choice and said this is the direction we can go and vote for this, or we continue to do nothing. You brought up some businesses, you know, we have seen some economic development, but we had to give a lot up to get it. So, when we talk about Johnny’s and Nuts and Bolts, you mentioned we’re not going to see any major revenue off that for years. That was TIF’d. And as much as it’s, you know, heartbreaking to do that or to do that, if we wouldn’t have TIF’d it, we’d still be looking at a shell of a strip center and, you know, we wouldn’t have those new businesses. So, we are getting the specials off of them and we’re bringing people to the area. And until that -- and, you know, when we do those projects, yeah, that’s just part of it. I mean, we’re -- the overflow is what you get is you get people coming in and hopefully are spending money elsewhere or buying services elsewhere. So, it’s -- and that gets the ball rolling. You know, we get into the needs versus wants argument. That’s a tough one because where do you stop with that. Pools are definitely not a need. I mean, we could shut down the pools. We could bulldoze the parks and turn them into residential communities because you don’t need a park. But you do that and people stop moving to your city. I mean, if Neal Sawyer was sitting here, he’d have a heart attack if I said we could stop sweeping the streets because the reality is we could. You don’t need to sweep the streets. It’ll just pile up and wash down the drain eventually. You do it because it creates a more attractive city. And so a lot of things, I mean, I get to sit here, and when you said that I’m just kind of looking down what we do. And you go, well, how much do we really to do and whose decision is that that we need to do that or we don’t need to do that. You know, obviously I do have a different perspective, and even the Mayor talked about campaigning in western Shawnee. When I used to say that I’m not hearing that from my constituents or I’m not hearing that complaining, she actually remembers campaigning out there where people are saying, yeah, raise my mill levy and give me services. That’s why I bought a $400,000 house out here and that’s what I want. Build a community center. You know, we need a fire station, whatever. I mean, they want services. They want parks. They want amenities. That’s why they invested in their house. And if they’re not going to get it here, well, then they’re going to move to Lenexa or move to another city that’s providing it. You know, I’m going to go back to what I’ve always said. We look at the city and people say, well, we need to treat -- we need to run a city like a business. So, what’s the kiss of death in a business? When there’s a recession, businesses that stop advertising in a recession die. Everybody knows it. In a recession, a lot of businesses they will cut some places, but they increase spending on advertising. They increase spending on marketing and on exposure because there’s less dollars to go around and they have to make themselves look better to capture them. And so a lot of things that we’re talking about here that we’re saying, oh, we should cut this or this, these are the things that put a face on Shawnee that’s going to attract people and businesses. And we’re not attracting them. We’ve got a couple projects going. But Stephanie knows as well as anybody with your current job, go sit in a planning commission meeting in Olathe or Overland Park or Lenexa, they’ll have 15-20 projects going on at once. And not just like, you know, half a million dollar projects, huge projects. And we’ve got nothing in the pipeline right now. We’ve got some things happening, but we have none of those projects underway. And why? I mean, look at us. We’re the third largest city. We’re closest to downtown of a major city, which gives us great positioning. We’re flanked by two highways. You know, we’re closer to the airport. Everything about us makes sense. Everything about it makes sense that we should be this incredibly fast-growing and we should have -- and they’re not coming. And why is that? Because for years and years and years Shawnee has been, oh, we just want to be this bedroom residential community and that has stuck. And it is -- we don’t want to pay any more in taxes. We just want cheap, cheap, cheap. Let’s just get by. And for years that’s all we’ve done is we’ve got by. And here we are today with our Nieman Corridor in shambles. Half of over -- you look at Tubbesing finally stepping up to the plate and doing something there off of Goddard. Look at that piece of -- look at that stretch of road. I mean, when you think about in between Nieman and Goddard on both sides on Shawnee Mission Parkway, it is the second -- isn’t it the second busiest street in Johnson County? I think it was behind Metcalf, yeah, or probably behind Santa Fe, maybe third. But one of the busiest streets, corridors in Johnson County to look the way it does. I mean, does anybody really ask themselves, yeah, why is that? I mean, nowhere else in the city do you see that. And so you brought up property values and so we look at, yeah, my appraisals have gone up out west, but not dramatically. And after I bought my house in 2004, they dropped. Mary Pilcher-Cook who accused of us, you know, massive tax increases, she’s paying less in property tax now in Shawnee tax than she was ten years ago. She’s paying less. For ten years we had a decline in values. We had a massive hit in values and now they’re starting to inch up, and we’re a little bit ahead of the game. But we’ve seen the graphs for ten years. Those same ten years we had one year of negative inflation. We had one year of deflation and that was in 2009. Every other year we had inflation. So, every year except one, inflation was going up. Cost was going up. Yet, we were receiving less and less money and we were surviving and we did cut. We cut way back. And if you look at all these graphs we’ve already been through, which everybody just wants to ignore, once again, you know, our expenditures per capita or expenditures, you know, our expenditures even when we compare our local cities, when we look at our national cities, when we look at everything, our employees, everything about it, we’re doing more with less. We’re already at the bottom. So, I mean, how much more do we cut? I much further to the bottom of the barrel do we want to get and look at our people and say, we don’t really want to be a first class city, we just want to be bottom of the barrel and that’s good enough for us. That’s not good enough for me. That’s not why I moved here. That’s not why I invested in this community. And I’m just going to go back to the ten percent. When you talk about the federal government, I agree. I don’t care what department it is in the federal government I guarantee you can cut ten percent. Because when you have a 14 billion -- what was it, what was FEMA’s budget? I don’t know how many billions of dollars. It was huge. So, when you look at any department, FEMA, yeah, I’m sure it was pretty bloated in a lot of areas. I mean, that’s a transparent budget. I mean, we don’t have $300 hammers or toilet seats or we don’t have -- just it’s right there in front of us, line item by line item this is what we’re spending. We come in at the end of the year and many of these departments are coming in with excess budget. Just this idea that, well, you’re going to get whatever you spend, how many other cities do we have departments that come in at the end of the year and say we’re rolling it back into the budget because we’ve got money left over. You know, every city is accused of, well, if you get that money, you’re going to spend it. Except Shawnee we don’t because we have a department that comes in and says here is the unspent budget. And we don’t praise them for that. It’s almost like, well, you need to cut more. Well, when you start dong that no more will you see unspent revenue because then they’ll say, well, I’ll spend everything you’ve got because next year we might have less. I don’t think what we’re doing is crazy. These are so many unmet needs. You know, I mean, I’ve been on the Council since, what, 2010? Mickey was here before me. I came on in, you know, in 2009, I think was the worst year in the recession. I came on the year after that. And it was, you know, we saw the effects of what happens when you cut, cut, cut. What did you guys decide to cut prior to me? Roads. You quit maintaining roads. And it was controversial, but the money simply wasn’t there. To continue the maintenance of roads like they were you would have had to have raised taxes. They said let’s not do it. Most recessions are three years. This one lasted for several. So, by the time things started happening again roads were so far gone that it was like, what are we going to do. And so it took a tax increase to solve the problem. It truly did because there was no other way to do it. We’re there. If we’re going to run like a business, then let’s be a business. You know, there’s the president of the business. We’re the board of directors. The Mayor is the CEO. We’re not here to nitpick and micromanage every little thing that the City does. What we’re saying is grow this City. And the president is saying this is how we grow this City. This is what we have to do. We have a lot of support, a lot of buy-in. And my job is to look at it and say, do I think this will grow the City. And based on what I’ve seen and my experience in life, I think this is how we grow the City. I think this is how we do it. Not everybody is going like it, I get that. And if I -- if we raise taxes I’m going to hear from a whole lot of people that are going to be upset about it. But I know that, you know, my kids are involved in baseball, soccer, and I’ve been talking to parent after parent after parent at practices and games and have not had one yet tell me don’t raise my taxes. What I’m telling them is we need to do this. We need a fire station. We need to do this and this and this. We’re going to improve our downtown and they’re saying, that’s fine, do it. We want a nice city. Nobody is beating me up over it. Nobody is telling me not to do it. So, I got to go for the kind of city I want to live in. And, you know, we’ve got to do better.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Going back to maybe some of the comments that Mickey made a little bit earlier about continuing education, and I know it was just a suggestion, so this isn’t probably going to be our hot topic of the night. But I know for my dental license to practice I have to by law do continuing education. My dental hygienist does as well. As a dental -- I’ve worked as an associate in probably one of the four places I’ve worked has ever paid for my continuing education even though it was required for me to have it to practice. I don’t pay for all the continuing education of my hygienist either even though it’s required for law for her to have that education in order for her to stay licensed. So, I would just put forward, I’m not making a suggestion. I will just put forward that just because education is required doesn’t necessarily guarantee the employer is going to pay for it. So, I’ll just put that out there. The other thing is if I am going to pay for the continuing education of one of my employees, I do expect something back. And I’m not saying that if a police officer goes to something I want that report on it per se, but I think it would be good. I know when I went to the Seattle League of Cities, I had a bunch of notes. And I kind of felt there might be an opportunity for me to present it and there wasn’t and I probably should have taken more initiative on sharing with you guys some of that stuff. But I think it would be good if our Councilmembers go someplace, to present it, or maybe e-mail us something on some of the cliff notes on what they learned on these places because it’s good information, good knowledge. I think we should share it. And I know that when I’m paying for education in my business there are some strings attached to that. So, I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that if we’re going to cut back or if we’re going to send people that they should give us some feedback on that. As far as the budget goes you guys I think got a copy of my e-mail that I sent to Carol which was I don’t really support a mill levy increase either. What Councilmember Jenkins did here was far more impressive than my e-mail and the fact that he actually proposed some ideas and put them out there. I don’t -- it’s funny. Jeff just said now that we’re not here to nit-pick or micromanage. And yet when Eric says I want staff to cut ten percent, we ask him, well, how do you nit-pick and micromanage that, where is the ten percent. And I feel like we get this double standard a lot where sometimes we’re told on the Council that we’re big picture and sometimes we’re asked for details. And so I don’t want to put words in his mouth. But the way I understood his memo when he was talking about the ten percent, he was instructing staff to come back with alternative budgets that cuts ten percent and let’s see what they propose and how that works out. I think they probably know the details of their budget more. I know there are some items that we’ve discussed here at Council meetings. We’ve had hot topics along the year as far as anywhere from we talked about healthcare costs. We talked about co-locating fiber. And there have been a lot of things that the Council has discussed which could be big ticket items. I don’t know if that would make up the full amount. I think having staff come back and give what -- if they had to cut ten, what would it be. Where would their percentage be since they’re more of the experts on it. I feel like that would still stay within our range of not nit-picking and not micromanaging. So, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. I will say to some degree the analogy on marketing in a recession, I’ve heard that time and time again usually from people selling marketing to me. I personally about three years ago stopped marketing my practice and really didn’t notice a difference, but I know that there’s always exceptions to the rule, so that doesn’t mean anything per se. But I think the problem with that analogy is in the private sector. If I market typically that’s what solves my problem, which is lack of production or lack of revenue. I’m not so sure that government spending is what’s going to get us out of a recession, especially if we’re seeing this recession as bigger than just a Shawnee area. So, yes, it would be nice to build things like community centers and so forth. I’m not sure that’s going to actually get us out of the recession the same way advertising help a business. I’m not sure government spending is going to be the one to get us out of this. We saw the bailout by Obama not really do much of anything. And we spent a lot of money on that. So, I don’t know if I agree with that principle behind it. So, to kind of restate my position. As a whole, I like what Eric proposed. I think it would be -- I think it would be worth following up some of these and I just -- I personally don’t support a mill levy increase.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: We’re out of a recession. We’re not in a recession. You can’t say that. Now, I’m going to agree with what Jim said. In Kansas, we might be having not near as fast a recovery as other places. And that’s not because of a recession, that’s because of certain people in Topeka that think they no better -- whatever. That’s all another conversation. But we’re out of a recession. I mean, my god, we’re back up to 300 home permits I think. What did we do last year in home permits?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: One eighty, two hundred, I think.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: One eighty. But I mean, projection that we’re pushing, aren’t we this year --
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Close to that, yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. I mean, I know that. I saw the report from KREC that showed that we’re on pace to get to our higher levels, highest levels of home builds. So, I mean, you know, there is projects. You’ve got big projects being, you know, approved out west. You’ve got, you know, homes are being built right and left. And then as far as commercial projects, yeah, it doesn’t look like they’re happening in our back yard, they’re not. But in the rest of Johnson County, in the rest of the cities there’s a lot of massive projects happening and going. So, we’re out of the recession. It’s time that we get in the gain. Well, let’s see. Where was I going with this? When you talk about ten percent, when you talk about telling the staff or, you know, go back and bring us back a new budget with ten percent cuts, maybe I’m wrong. I don’t see our operating the way -- I don’t see our budget operating the way -- that way. So, based on what staff has done is they’re directed with providing us with a budget that they feel keeps us a healthy vibrant city. They provide us with a budget that’s saying this is what we think we need to do to move forward and succeed. And we either approve it or we don’t. So, if you don’t want to approve, don’t approve it. And they’re going to have to bring us back another budget. But to tell staff bring us back another budget with ten percent less, if I was staff I would say, but that’s not going to achieve our goals. I can’t present that budget in a clear conscience and say this will achieve our goals. And I think that’s what they’re saying. These are our goals. This is what we want to achieve. We do resident want feedback. We have people saying we want stronger code enforcement. We want, you know, this. We want that. We want. And so we take these things and we say to pay for this, this is what it’s going to take. And so staff has presented us with a budget based on feedback, based on their expertise in the industry, based on their communication with other city managers and they’re analyzing other cities. They’re saying if we’re going to move forward and we’re going to succeed as a city and we’re going to take care of our needs, this is how much money we need. So, to tell them bring us back another budget of ten percent less, well, vote down the budget and then they’re going to have to. I mean, that’s really -- I wouldn’t feel comfortable with staff bringing me a budget with ten percent less because we said, well, we think we just need to cut ten percent, but tell us we’re still going to be able to do the same thing and meet our needs with it. Because they’re going to be presenting us with a budget that doesn’t meet our needs. If you don’t like the budget, vote it down and then we’ll force staff to bring us back another budget with ten percent less an then the public is going to know that that budget does not meet our needs because we voted down the one that did. And I think that’s really how I perceive this. We’re not the federal government. We don’t put the budget together ourselves. We have professional government that puts it together. Here’s all the reports. It’s an up or down vote. And I said if we turn it down, then they’ll be forced to do it. But they’ve presented us with a budget that they feel meets our needs. Obviously there’s a few levels of needs in there. We can do -- meet every need. We can meet some of the needs and that’s why we have this priorities worksheet that everybody chose to do. So, really, you know, we’ve only heard from five of us out of eight on what our -- what’s most important to you. And so I know I answered it. And so, I mean, I think we go off of that and say these are the needs that are most important to the Council.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: So, a couple of comments. I guess one thing I disagree with is I don’t think it’s realistic to expect no increase at all in the budget just based on growth, our growth as a city as well as residential patterns, development patterns. There is expectations by our residents in terms of being able to provide core services and grow our infrastructure, something that I’ve been hearing more frequently as I go to HOA meetings with increasing impatience by many residents. So, it’s a matter of being able to balance that with reasonable increases. So, to me I think there is a reasonable discussion to be had on what a reasonable rate of increase is and being able to hold to that year in and year as we go forward, especially years in advance, five, ten years down the road. So, that’s where the discussion lies for me. I do think that the discussion around cost saving when it comes to supplies, and those are interesting and I think there’s value in that. And that’s something that we should examine on an annual basis. But I think that’s a peripheral issue because I feel like that still doesn’t get at the heart of -- we have major, major priorities in front of us in determining where we want to go as a city. We’re not going to be able to do everything. That’s obvious. And we’re not going to be able to do half of this in probably the amount of time that all of us would like. So, the question is what do we do now and at what rate do we do that. And a brief note because I don’t want to focus on the office budgets. I think there’s a place for that, but I feel like that still doesn’t get at the heart of the mill levy increase. And I don’t know that that’s going to offset enough the budget gap that we have in terms of being able to provide for some of these large infrastructure projects. But I will say one thing, it’s an increasing trend that you see many large companies provide for training and education and certification for employees. I see it in the technology sector. Since I started work out of college, I haven’t worked for a company that hasn’t provided that to some degree. Part of that is investing in your employees. When you have happy employees you retain them for much longer, so that drives down cost for the business in terms of turnover. And then you also have greater productivity because you have half your employees. But you also have employees that are not only invested in their work, but also have a higher level of expertise. And so that becomes critical when you talk about firefighters and police officers, you know, being able to keep up with trends around the nation and being able to respond more quickly when incidents happen in our community. And you can’t negate the value of being able to share best practices with like-minded people around the country. So, there is that aspect of it. There’s other issues along the side that could be looked at definitely, but, you know, I would caution against getting caught up in, you know, trying to reduce certification programs, especially as we’re leading the way in many of these programs and many different departments are now setting a model for the rest of the county and other cities in the county. But there is no question that we have to look at costs going forward, the rate of increase, what that should be, how much, how little and how willing our community is, you know, willing to invest in that. There is no doubt that we’re under a lot of pressure with increase, tax increases by the county in recent years, by the state. I mean, we’re being hit from all sides. But when it comes to business growth as well and what type of development we want to see in our community, you know, I don’t -- it’s clear that the recession has lingering effects. I don’t think we’re in it at the point that we were eight years ago. Without a doubt we’ve seen growth and development pick up. But at the same time it’s a balancing act. If you’re not willing to invest in your community, invest in core infrastructure you’re not going to see that business growth. So, assuming that we see a major upturn in the economy and we start to see this just groundswell of development, you know, likely we could see that take place around us and not here. Because if we have, you know, critical needs and stormwater and in other areas, if we’re not able to provide in terms of public safety, that’s not going to be very appealing to a business that may want to relocate in our community. So, that’s something to consider. Sales tax revenues are down. There’s many factors that play into that. And one of the major factors is the fact that the shift to online purchases, so consumer buying habits have been shifting the last five to seven years. And so you have a large increase, some people that are purchasing products online, particular retail, that’s going to hamper our ability to attract retail businesses. So, the question is what fills the void? If we’re not able to attract retail businesses because of the shift to online spending, we need to look at some non-traditional businesses, destination-based businesses. And then the question goes to do we have the infrastructure to support that, number one, that’s appealing, but also do we have the environment in terms of an appealing downtown that would bring those businesses in. And I would say right now we don’t. And that’s where that becomes extremely critical. I have a friend of mine who I have grown up with who lives in Lenexa. And I was talking to him about downtown Shawnee because I’m excited to talk about the redevelopment there to every person I have a chance to, you know, he asked me point blank, having grown up two blocks from the Shawnee City line, where is downtown Shawnee? I don’t even know where that is. I’ve explained it to him. But the fact is we don’t have a very, you know, well defined downtown corridor, which I think is what we’re trying to do with this, one of the many things we’re trying to do. So, yeah, I would just say in closing, I think it really comes down to a balance. I mean, you have to be able to invest, you know, beyond a minimum level and infrastructure and public safety to attract those types of businesses you want to bring in. Because I talk to start-ups every day and they want to go to communities that are investing, you know, in their core infrastructure that are able to be nimble. That’s appealing to them. But at the same time you have to do it in a way that’s not excessive and that’s responsible. And so I think that’s where we’re at. We’re at a crossroads. No question. A lot of development is happening around us. We will be left behind if we’re not able to respond. But the question gets to what degree and to what rate I think. I don’t think we can be stagnant. And there’s no question that, I mean, we have real needs in terms of being able to provide, especially residents out west. And that’s the dichotomy that I’m seeing on a regular basis in terms of talking to residents out east versus out west because many of the residents out west want to see road improvements take place faster than they are. They want to see a fire station out west. And so the question is what do we tell them? Do we tell them, wait, you know, those needs are, you know, a priority right now we have to wait a certain number of years. That’s a dilemma. And there’s no easy answer for that, but I think there’s no question that we have to be willing to move on some of these items. The question is how quickly. But a stagnant budget, you know, won’t do it. The question is, you know, how much harder we go and being able to keep that reasonable. Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. So, circling back to the rest of Councilmember Jenkins’ recommendations, the next talks about staff and it’s limiting hires, which I think we have somewhat addressed. I’ll make sure. Okay. And a part of that was our -- the level that we cover for benefits. So, I know we’ve previously had that conversation. I think we’ve probably passed our ability to have an impact on that this year. So, perhaps -- I remember when we had the conversation a month ago, two months ago, we discussed maybe revisiting that a bit in advance next year. So, if we could just have a marker that maybe we could review that moving forward when appropriate. So, got that --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: That was not meant to be implemented now because I know we’ve already passed the benchmark. But that’s included in this analysis because it is affecting --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: -- the rest of it. I mean, obviously you put money here, you don’t have money here. I mean, just the facts of life.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. No. That make sense. I just want to make sure we’re covering it. Let’s see, reduce the rush on capital improvements. So, you included Nieman Corridor in that. I assume with the changes in the SMAC funding and all that that you are supportive of that, or that is no longer an issue.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I thought that was -- somebody addressed that, yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. Okay. Just wanted to make sure. Okay. Fire station, I think we will get to in later conversation. And then the last I have here is reducing overall operating costs, which I think falls into a little bit of the conversation we had had already.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. That was looking at that -- that’s where the ten percent comes from, the operating cost stuff.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Okay. So, I guess at this point we -- I could take anyone who would like to move forward on any sort of a vote on any of Councilmember Jenkins’ suggestions to incorporate into the budget. We can do that.
So, we can either start on this now, go through some general conversation about these Council priorities, not take any votes and then open it up to the public and then come back and make our final choices. Does that sound great to everyone? Okay. All right.
So, Council Priorities. Just moving through these. And again, not voting on it now, but just having general conversation maybe about some of these that are a little more supported than others.
Under Projects. It looks like community strategic plan was supported by three Councilmembers. Anyone have any thoughts or opinions on that? Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. It’s a $75,000 guess. I think strategic planning is very important. It would be another opportunity to just get more input. I believe this next year we’re going to have another one of the citizen surveys. This is, again, just along the same vein to try and get as much information from the people as possible. But even though I like the idea, if we don’t do it that would be fine with me as long as keep up the other. The Mayor has done a very good job of going out and talking to people with third Thursdays and her quarterly meeting and things. And I think we are getting a lot more feedback than we have in the past. I just would like to see that maintained and even go another step further, so we get people involved. Example would be out west when we start talking about the civic center. Or what would the civic center need to be. I mean, I’m sorry. Okay. Community center. But, you know, just what purpose do you want and more of a definition of what it is. And it probably won’t be that much, but, you know, that’s just a sample of something to be revisited.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. I kind of side with Him on that one. If you’re not strategic planning in a community, I think it’s just hard to go anywhere because there’s no direction. I used to live in the river market years ago and it was -- when Mel Mallin had two buildings down there, and I think there’s one other occupied, and the rest of it was a ghost town. That would have been probably the late 80s. And I was down there and I know some people that owned a restaurant down there really well. And I was down eating Cascone’s the other day and I’m looking out the window and it just amazes me. I mean, I was in there in the late 80s. And we look at visioning. I mean, that city, Kansas City, Missouri had a vision for the river. You know, it used to be the River Quay as we know, and they changed the name because of the bad connotation and the bombing and so they call it the River Market. And that started years ago. And their vision was exactly what it is today. And it was -- that vision lasted. They came up with a vision for that area and now you -- and even the vision for street cars. And I mean these are visions that evolved over a long time because they kind of had this vision of where are we now, where do we want to be. What kind of city do we want to become. And so one of the things I hear about also from a lot of people who live out in my neck of the woods is, man, that Lenexa City Center, I mean, that’s just crazy. What a cool development and just, you know, everybody think it’s awesome. I mean, that didn’t happen by accident. You talk about visioning. I mean, Carol could probably talk to that. How many years ago did Lenexa start on that visioning process for City Center?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: 1996.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. And here we are. It’s just now becoming a reality ten years later.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Twenty years.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Or 20 years. I just lost ten years of my life. Twenty years later it’s just now becoming a reality. I mean, 20 years. And so when you look at Shawnee, you know, I remember years ago, or, you know, as soon as I got elected I started looking at visioning and we don’t have any. I mean, we’ve never really gone through this visioning process in Shawnee. We’ve done little ones. We’ve never gone through the really big visioning process of what, you know, and kind of we did it on the Nieman Road Corridor. We went through the steering process. But the city-wide visioning process, what do we want to be as a city? You know, do we want to be bottom of the barrel, or do we want to be top of the barrel? I want to be top of the barrel. And it takes an investment of time and revenue to do that. But it’s -- strategic planning is huge. You’ve got to know where you’re going. You’ve got to know how you’re going to get there. Otherwise, you’re just kind of fumbling and bumbling year to year and I don’t think that works. I mean, you’ve got to have a clear, concise path and follow that path.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I guess I would jump in and say I don’t disagree with you that I think strategic planning is very important. For me though, as I was going through this list of priorities, just to be clear for everyone in the audience as well, none of these are included in our current budget. So, we’re talking about a mill levy increase to fund any of these things. So, I was looking at it through that lens and asking myself can I justify raising someone’s property taxes to do a strategic plan, and I guess I can’t, so.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I would just say if the community center is part of that strategic plan, then we’re getting because you and both agree that something that’s very well requested in western Shawnee and by a lot of residents. So, part of that strategic plan to me is community center. The other things that we want in this community, our corridors are our look and feel of the city.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, I would agree if this was just, you know, all talk and we’re not going to get anywhere. But if this strategic plan evolves into or equates to we want a community center and these are the steps we’ve got to take to get it and we have buy-in from the community and then we can go out and do it, then I support it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. I don’t disagree. I would I guess just say, we have, as Carol talked about earlier, we have money allocated in 2018 for the visioning process for the community center. So, I think we’re kind of covering that base there already. Mike.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: I pretty much have the same thought process as you there, Stephanie. I’m not anti-strategic planning. Obviously it makes sense to do, but not at a mill levy increase.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Okay. Anyone else on -- oh, Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: I was just going to say in response to the community and strategic planning aspect. I think that’s one of those cases where there is a lot that could be done in terms of soft touchpoints before that probably don’t cost us anything. In terms of community listening sessions, you know, being able to do kind of informal meetings with residents throughout the city, ensure that it’s geographically represented to get feedback. So, you know, I think that’s something too that as we determine exactly what components are contained within, then we can be able to price and itemize that. But, you know, I see probably starting that out there’s a lot of soft touchpoints that we could do to get started on that without having to have that as part of the mill levy increase as well. So, I do agree that it’s something we need to start one way or another. Whether that’s led by the City or that’s led by, you know, a group organization outside the city of residents that are just very passionate and want to ensure that our community gets started, it needs to happen. But not -- I don’t think it’s necessary that we, you know, have it as part of a mill levy increase right away, so.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, moving onto workload staffing. I’m getting a little feedback there. Sorry. It looks like we have the greatest level of support at three folks for increased street inspectors and police officers. Any thoughts on that? Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. I am interested very much in the police officers because I think Rob made it pretty clear to us at the last meeting that it takes five years till we put these people in -- not five years, a year when we put them into the pipeline to get through all the police training to really -- so you have to front-end load this a little bit, and we’d be losing people during the interim period as well. So, that one is kind of a self-correcting thing in a way. It’s kind of a fluid process. And if you want to keep any kind of staffing levels at all, you pretty much got to be doing -- hiring people on a regular consistent basis to keep it up to speed. The street inspector position. The thing I like about the street inspector position is I think we’ve had some really poor success with some of our road repairs. Jeez, David Morris has driven me about nuts a number of times taking me out and showing me all the street issues. But some of them he had a very good point on. When you have stretch marks that you can stick your hand into where they laid the asphalt and it’s brand new, wow, that’s a problem, you know. Why aren’t we inspecting that and getting back to the contractor and saying this needs to be done, redone. So, I think that one might be a money maker rather than a one that costs us if we can do a much better job of supervising the -- especially since we’re spending all this money, we’ve got a lot more roads going in, a lot more repairs going in. It might be worth some money to have somebody out there on top of this and making sure the work is done properly.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. Also back on the street inspector, well, it’s a little bit more. But just like we approved the other night, we subcontracted that out for some of this other we’re doing and for, I don’t remember, was the contract 72,000 or something like that?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: $68,000.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: $68,000. So, for ‘22, this person will be permanent on staff for, you know, as we talked about earlier would be getting something. We’d have his ability there, so again, I think that’s a good idea.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Anyone else on workload? All right. Programs with Staffing. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. I just would throw out. Okay. The street inspector and police officers?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yes, sir.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Three people like those the best. If you did that, that is 6/10th of a mill off the worksheet.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Reducing cost somewhat in the [inaudible] departments and picking that cost up.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Well, that was the cost they had them, right?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, I’m talking about -- we talked about it in my budget, a proposal actually trimming some costs from some of the departments on some of the operating costs and hopefully you can pick up these guys with that. I mean, it’s not that you have to have another more mill levies to balance that.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: I’m just merely stating that based on the worksheet --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: -- that was what they were --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Based on the worksheet.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: That was what they -- wherever it comes from that’s what it was going to take.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: That’s the cost. Yep. Okay. Programs with Staffing. It looks like we had quite a bit. Four folks supporting the Stormwater increased funding and three, four municipal court security. Comment? Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. On the municipal court security, I think when that came up earlier I mentioned something on that previously that I would like that to be self-supporting in the budget. I would think that the reason we need a municipal court is because we’ve got people breaking the laws and having to go in there and pay fines and see the judge and so on. I would like them to pay the cost for this. I think the fines could be adjusted accordingly to pick up this cost.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I agree with you there. I don’t know what the process of doing that would be.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Well, the judge legally sets the fines and I can just tell you through my ten years here we’ve had that conversation about every single expense that comes up in court. When we did the software we were like, well, let’s increase the fines and let’s create a fund to do that when we were doing some building remodels. Oh, let’s increase the fines and let’s do that. My concern was increasing fines for a specific purpose is that it’s General Fund. It’s operations costs. The judge sets the fines over here. That money goes into the General Fund. That money funds operation costs. We can ask the judge about that. Ultimately it would be his call. But I know in the past he’s been a little leery about doing that just because there will continue to be needs and where do you stop setting up these fees. So, that’s just my input.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It’s okay passing the cost to the taxpayers but not to the perpetrators?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: This is going to be hard for me to say this without sounding kind of weak. But, you know, when you look at funds I have a 20 year old that pays a -- has paid a few dollars in court costs just simply for crazy driving and everything else. And some of the fines really kind of amaze me, whereas certain cities out there I can tell you that he’s had to pay fines in, it’s revenue generation for them and it’s kind of sad. Not everybody in our court is a criminal. Some people are just the nicest people in the world and they, for whatever happens, they get a ticket for this or for that. But, I mean, you’ve got to look at someone. This goes back to the conversation. You look at what, you know, how stretched thin people are becoming. And typically the people in our court system are the people that can least afford it. And just hammering that burden on them. It’s not like they’re not paying anything. It’s not freedom by no means and we’re not subsidizing it to the point where, you know, she shouldn’t have to pay a fine. But I mean you get somebody out there making eight bucks an hour that’s living paycheck to paycheck and, you know, things happen. You make an illegal turn or you’re not paying attention and you’re speeding, or whatever it is. You know, I know with my boy it’s just, you know, he’s come to me and said I can’t afford it. I can’t pay it. I don’t have the money. I mean, it’s a tough one. And so what happens is they kind of get in the system. I mean, they extend and they extend and they, you know, do whatever they can. And so it’s a tough one because usually what they’re doing is, you know, most people they’re going to plead that down to a non-moving so now you’re going to double the fine, and plus they’re going to have other costs on top of that, otherwise they won’t be able to insure themselves because that’s already crazy. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. I mean, I don’t disagree with having fees and fines that are comparable to other cities. I just -- I don’t want to get kind of like Carol said. I don’t like the idea of saying, well, we have this need. Let’s increase his fees over here. I just, you know, I don’t want to really get in that position of making that call. I’d rather -- I like the idea of the judge kind of, you know, coming up with these fees as long as we’re comparable with other cities. But that’s a runaway train I think if you just start imposing that on everybody.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I guess I don’t share your sympathy of lawbreakers. And as someone who works downtown I’ve paid my fair share of parking tickets that are something like $50 a ticket. So, I imagine we’re fairly reasonable compared to Kansas City.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [Inaudible; talking off mic]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Oh, okay. Well, then they shouldn’t break the law.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I agree on that one.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Oh, yes, Mike.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Just a real simple point. I mean, someone has to pay for the security. It’s either the people in court or the taxpayers. So, I guess it’s our decision who should be paying for that security when they’re getting -- the ones that broke the law or the person that hasn’t.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Stormwater. Anyone care to comment? It looks like it has four supporters. Yeah. Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I think we need to turn back around and look at the stormwater fee. So, if we look at stormwater we’re saying, you know, we’re looking at mill levy increase for it. But stormwater, I mean, I think half the pipes, if I asked for the information, I think half the metal pipes are west of 435. So, our issues are coming, they’re just not here yet. But stormwater is one. We look at a mill levy. Of course, the more expensive you pay, the more you pay. But typically the more expensive house you have the less chance you’re going to have of having a stormwater issue because you’re in a new subdivision less chance of erosion of pipes. I don’t want to get in a position and say I don’t want to pay any of it because we’re all in this together. But stormwater fee, we all pay the same. If it’s a house, it’s a house. That’s 36 bucks right now. And so we’re all paying the same amount of money. I’d rather take this out of the, you know, take this away from the mills, free up mills for other programs that I think are needed and kind of go back at the stormwater and say, hey, you know, let’s increase that fee. You know, aren’t we one of the lowest in, yeah, we’re in the lowest. Why are we the lowest? I mean, if we’re looking at doing a mill levy increase for stormwater and we’re the lowest in Johnson County, or one of the lowest, then let’s increase the stormwater fee and not -- because there’s obviously support for it. Everybody is saying we have a stormwater issue. But is it right that the more expensive house, I mean, there’s houses way out in, I mean, I could show you right now there’s houses, you know, along the Bluffs out there, $1.5-$2 million house, well, they don’t have a stormwater pipe anywhere near their house. They’re a quarter mile off the road with a big long driveway and there’s no stormwater out there and they’re going to pay substantially more than anybody else who is probably going to receive the most benefit from it. So, I think everybody -- I think the fair way when we look at stormwater, I think the -- I don’t want to say fair, but I think the logical way to do that is lean it on the fee.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: That fee charges it in the -- do you know what PowerPoint it’s in?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: If you own a house you’re not that poor.
[Inaudible; talking amongst themselves.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Carol, maybe while you’re pulling that up, Brandon, did you have a comment?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yeah. I just wanted to echo Jeff on that. I feel like when it comes to stormwater improvements, the stormwater fee as I understand it hasn’t been increased since it was implemented.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Uh-huh. Correct.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: So, you know, over ten years now, is that right?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: 2005, I believe is when it went into effect.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: 2005. You know, and I think that that’s very understandable among the general public. It’s a stormwater fee that those funds go directly back into stormwater repair. And that’s also costs that’s shared, that burden is shared by everybody in the City. So, you know, even non-profits that own businesses, churches, everybody pays that so it’s not, you know, just the property owner. And I think that is also appealing about it as well because everybody is paying into it. And when it comes to stormwater improvements, that’s something I think everybody in the City should share the cost of that as well. And again, there’s a direct tie-in. In talking property tax mills to residents, it’s very nebulous, you know, because again, you know, they don’t often equate or see the direct value for their dollar and where those -- tying it to those improvements. And with the stormwater fee you can do that. And I believe most residents of our city understand the stormwater issue being able to ties that to a fee increase there I think is logical.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Just showing that chart we are the lowest in Johnson County except for Overland Park. And then Overland Park has some other sources of revenue. Several cities have other sources of revenue in addition to their stormwater utility. But ours is at $3 a month at $36. So, Lenexa is at $9. Mission has a large -- they do a lot more fee-based stuff, $28 a month. $9.25 for Prairie Village. $5.60, Olathe and $4 for Lawrence.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: When you say those others, they have other revenue sources like Overland Park, other taxpayer funded obviously. I mean, it comes from taxpayers.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Right, they do. Let’s see, a General Fund transfer, some ad valorem mill levy and I think a part of a sales tax, too.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, at the end of the day taxpayers all pay for it.
MR. WESSELSCHMIDT: The other thing to point out is doing 12 miles of corrugated metal pipe, pavement, concrete from the very beginning.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: So, Overland Park has much less corrugated metal pipe than we do.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Anything else on stormwater for now? Oh, Brandon? No. Just kidding.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: [Inaudible; talking off mic.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Oh, yeah, sure. Go ahead. Yeah. We’re still in Programs with Staffing.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Okay. So, actually just a question for my fellow Councilmembers. I thought it was interesting that enhanced codes enforcement and rental registration didn’t get a lot of votes. I know I hear about that from a lot of members of the community pretty frequently. So, just curious as to reactions and thinking among others on that, so.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: No, and I’m with you. Codes Enforcement, I’ve been argument with them for years. It’s, you know, it goes back to what kind of community do you want to have. And if you don’t want to enforce codes, then go drive through areas of Kansas City, Kansas and that’s what you’re going to look like. Because codes enforcement in KCK is pretty minimal if it exists at all, even if you make a complaint. So, it’s, you know, nobody wants to be the bad guy. But when we have this idea that our codes enforcement is complaint-driven, then that’s where you really spend a whole lot of time on an education process. Nobody knows that. And I’ve told plenty of people that. Well, they’re like my neighbor -- and I’ll say, have you complained, well, no. Our codes are complaint driven. We don’t proactive go out and patrol and so they’re like, well, I didn’t know that. Nobody knows that. So, they just, you know, the perception is that we’re lazy as a city. The perception is that we don’t care. We’re going to let anybody do anything they want because nothing is getting done and it’s sad because that’s not the case. Our policy is it’s got to be complaint unless it’s blatant I guess. At some point I’m sure we’ll proactively do something. You know, I’m amazed at how many yards on main thoroughfares that don’t get mowed. Two foot tall grass and it’s not mowed on the thoroughfare. Or, you know, I know when I was campaigning for mayor and going around to some of the neighborhoods down here where I really got on some of the back streets and the side, it was like, wow, how can this be allowed. I mean, and so, you know, a lot of people say, well, I just don’t think we should pick on people that much. You have that opinion until the neighbor moves in next to you who runs their house into the ground and doesn’t paint it and parks their car on their grass and, you know, the porch is falling off. And now your property that was worth 180,000 is worth 140,000 and nobody is wanting to buy it because they’re saying I don’t want to live next to that. Well, now all of a sudden you kind of have a different perspective on codes enforcement. I think to get our city where we want to go and move us forward we’ve got to proactively enforce codes and we did in our citizen surveys. A lot of feedback we’ve gotten, people are saying I want to see codes enforcement. We have got to clean this up.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I guess the comment I would add on why I didn’t take this one. For me, as again, it just feels like a really high bar for me if we’re talking about raising someone’s property taxes and this doesn’t feel like a critical enough of a need for me to justify that.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Well, I think if we look at it as it could potentially raise property values, then while it’s a mill increase, the effect of it overall eventually raises property values. If you code enforcement our neighborhoods, and now especially the worsts ones, little by little that neighborhood is going to go up. So, they’re paying more in taxes, but their house, you know, their net worth is going to go up.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Of course, and then they’ll pay more in taxes.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: The value of their house is going to go up because we’re cleaning it up and we’re doing what we’re supposed to do as a city. And codes enforcement does decrease crime. And I think -- I don’t know if the Police Department has got any statistics on it. I know I’ve read them. Just based on a, you know, I mean, I know I can go down here to the apartment complex down the street and there’s a truck backed in with a flat tire. It hasn’t moved in months. I guarantee if we walk around to the back of that truck it’s on expired tags. That’s code enforcement. That truck should not be allowed to sit there, but nobody has complained about it. And if we’re proactive, also drive by the [inaudible] that’s abandoned. Now, we have that on the books, but we’re not proactive and going and doing it. And do police have time? Not necessarily. So, maybe the codes enforcement officer gets out of his truck, walks behind the vehicle, expired tags, makes a report, boom, car gets towed. Little by little crimes rates go down. Abandoned vehicles go away. I mean, I can show you neighborhoods here where people have -- it looks like they’re running a repair shop in their front yard. I knocked on some of those doors. I mean, literally cars with the wheels off and the axles out of them on their front yard. And it’s been that way. Some tires are stacked up with weeds growing through them because they’ve been there for years. And that’s not fair to the neighbor next door. He doesn’t want to look at that. But he doesn’t want to complain on his neighbor. It’s our job to do that. We’re the, you know, the City is the -- they’re the governing body, we’re the governing body. The City is the, I don’t know what you want call it, what’s the word for it, but it’s their job. I mean, it’s our job to make these neighborhoods nice and do what we can to, you know, for security and appearance and quality of life and that’s part of it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: On this one, I think Overland Park, as far as their rental registration and they are adding -- they’re sort of to me in the county spearheading it. But I think they were going to have three inspectors and there is some sort of fee.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: They’re charging for it, yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. But my point is that if you’re going -- I think this could eventually be -- I think it needs to happen. I think I agree with what Jeff said with the codes. But if you combine this with the rental property registration it could be self-funding.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. I agree. Okay. Anything else on Programs with Staffing? All right. Moving to Facilities and Staffing. We have Fire Station 74. And I’ll self-report this was the one item that I said I would support. I live in northwest Shawnee and I’ve seen the number -- response time number, seven, eight, nine, ten minutes and beyond, and I think this is a critical need for west Shawnee and I can’t imagine the position of telling one of my neighbors your house is going to be burnt to the ground or child is going to die inside that house because we don’t feel that’s a need. So, I supported it. Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. In fact, I’m -- it upsets me a great deal when I see public safety being on a list like this. These are -- public safety is our number one responsibility literally. If you prioritize the purpose and functions of any level of government, number one is public safety. For the federal government, it’s to have a force that protects our borders and protect Americans from outside threats. At the state level we have a National Guard and we have state police and so on. And at the local level it gets down personal where we have to -- we protect individual lives from perpetrators of crime and we have fire, the dangers of fires. These things need to be on -- not even on this page. They need to be on the basic budget side as it’s a necessary expense. So, I always get kind of frustrated. I see this all the time. Like in Kansas City, Missouri they’ll starve the fire people and the police departments and they’ll say, oh, we need to pass the taxes to pay for these guys. Well, no, these’ guys come first, all this other stuff comes second. So, these guys need to be on page 1. That other stuff needs to be on page 2 where we’re looking at right now. So, yeah, I think this needs to be moved right into the basic budget for this community. We take care of fire. We take care of our public safety equipment down there and fund stabilization as well. It doesn’t belong on this page and it doesn’t -- it should not be part of a mill levy. I’m afraid that’s often something that’s manipulated quite a bit to say, oh, man, we’ve got to have police and fire, so we need to raise the mill levy. No, it comes first. We may need to raise the mill levy for something else, but we don’t need to raise the mill levy for this.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, I agree with you that public safety comes first and that’s why I supported it. The practical reality is it’s $3.5 million for a new facility and $1 million a year to staff. And I don’t know precisely where that comes from the in the budget. And I do think there is a tendency and maybe in some other communities to use that as an excuse perhaps to increase the mill levy. And with that in mind maybe something to think about for us if we are going through to the step of looking at a mill levy increase for the fire station that we make it specifically a public safety mill levy increase and the money is always tied to that, so that encompasses perhaps the new police officers, fire station, what not. Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: New, yeah. And I support it too obviously. I’m out there and it’s something that needs to happen. I’d just go back to kind of what you’re saying before is if you’re going to say that it should be priority or you shouldn’t be on this page, okay. So, find $3.6 million and $1 million a year to run it. I mean, unfortunately when cities grow that’s part of it. Just to give some perspective on this as, you know, we’ve talked about it before, and I love to compare to Lenexa because we’re both west side cities. They’re what, 15 less square miles. There are 15-20,000 less people or something like that and they’ve got five fire stations and we have three. I mean, it’s, you know, and unfortunately I’ve heard comments from people that, you know, the negative side of it that, you know, why aren’t we serviced, you know, served as well as Lenexa or why aren’t we, I mean, it’s a tough one, man. It has to happen. And this goes back to kind of where we are, you know, budget-wise, and even commercial. I mean, yeah, we’ve got commercial growth, but it’s only at 22 percent. You know, healthy cities at 33, 35. I mean, our goal is the low 30s. Ten percent increase in commercial revenue. If we had that, if we weren’t, you know, if we didn’t have this idea of let’s be a bedroom community years ago and let’s not support and grow and attract commercial development, and we’re a little bit further ahead of the game and didn’t lose some of the things we lost and got this far behind the eight ball, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. I think our budget would be in a totally different position. You know, the reason all of a sudden everybody changed their minds on, unt-oh, we need commercial development was, well, we can’t afford this. You can’t put that much burden on a residential taxpayer and make it work because you’ve still got to provide services. I’m going to say something real quick, and I’ve thought a lot about this. Public safety is very important. But where do you draw the line? What is public safety? A streetlight is public safety. A stop light is public safety. A road with no pot holes is public safety because somebody could hit a pothole and get injured and then that public safety still has to be supported by city government. It takes, you know, someone to write their paychecks. It takes someone to deal with their benefits plan that, you know, I mean, all of that works together. So, to say we’re just going to keep adding people to public safety, but we’re not going to hire anybody to maintain and manage public safety, you know, unless everybody just falls under public safety, which I guess that’s direction. If everybody just say, well, we’ll just -- so public safety should be an automatic. Okay. Well, then you’re going to have a city that’s going to say everything is public safety. Everything is going to fall under public safety. And every time they hire somebody it’s going to fall under public safety because you’ve still got to manage it. You could hire ten people at public safety, well, someone has got to deal with their benefits. Somebody has got to manage a program. It still takes other personnel to do that. You’ve got to have roads to drive on. You’ve got to have street lights. You’ve got to have stop lights. You’ve got to have technology to keep all these departments connected and the phones answered, or the phones ring when someone calls, I mean, that’s -- it all ties together. So, yeah. I mean, I think you can get off in the weeds on some programs that probably have nothing to do with it. But a lot of what we’re talking about here I think ties, you know, at the end of the day, can you easily tie it back to public safety.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Anyone else on Facilities and Staffing? It’s really just the fire station. Okay. Let’s see. The next one is Street Projects. Carol, would you mind putting that priorities back up? Thank you. Street Projects. So, this was the Midland Drive, Shawnee Mission Parkway to 435, one vote. Any comment on that? Hearing none?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: [Inaudible; talking off mic.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Oh, hearing one. Too fast.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. The only reason I bring this up is I’ve heard this for years and it’s, you know, is it an absolute priority, no. I just want to get it in the conversation. This is our true real link between east and west. And we’re talking about bicycles and we’re talking about corridors for cycling. Anybody that cycles knows that getting from east to west on a bike and they’re spending, you know, $6.2 million for a cyclist is tough. But we also know that woman almost got killed on Midland Drive walking several years ago because there’s no place to walk. There’s not even a shoulder on that road. And so it’s dangerous road. And if you drive a lot, which I do, it’s a very dangerous road because there’s some blind curves. There’s no shoulder. It just kind of limits do we need to run out and do it this year? No. But I think it’s something we really need to start looking at and then figuring out with the county, with the golf course. Can we leverage them? Can we get some stuff done? Are we going to see development that might do some of it or how do we leverage some stuff on it. But it’s a tough one because when we’re talking about cycling and even connections, and, you know, bicycle connections over the lake. The whole idea I think as trends grow is, you know, walkable. You know, the walkable, car-free societies is linking major things for people to move around. It’s a big expense, but I’m not going to say cycling is the only reason for it, it’s just -- it’s one of those roads. It’s one of our corridors that I think we need to see something in the years to come. It’s, you know, it’s not going to on this years and I know it. I just want to put it on there so we talked about it.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. I’ve got a question for Carol. What’s our percentage, I don’t have the numbers in front of me right now because they’re in my office, but the percentage of our reserve fund that’s projected, percentage of budget?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: On the forecast?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I know we ended ‘15 at 51 percent.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, the reason I’m even bringing it up is because to me that would be something I would consider. A fire station would be something I would consider out of reserve fund.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I’d love to cash fund a fire station from reserve, yeah, for each.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Because we have more than adequate reserves. We’re doing well. And we get something. It’s not just gone. You know, it’s out there and just, poof, it’s all gone. We can’t even tell where it went. We’ve got a capital improvement that’s going to be there for years and years and years and serving the people in western Shawnee. Pay cash on the barrel head and we’re done with that. And I think it’s something we’ve been kicking around for a long time. And I do not like spending, frivolously spending any of our cash reserves because that’s very valuable and very important to us in our bond rating and all that kind of stuff. But if you can walk away with a real product, wow, we’ve got something very tangible out of that as a permanent fix kind of thing, as a permanent structure. I think we walk away with value added on something like that.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I agree reserves should only be spent on one-time things. The concern we would have looking at this forecast is that, yeah, we’re budgeting to 32 percent in ‘17, and we know we end up higher than what we budget to. We know that. But as you pointed out, we budget to spend more than we bring in each year. And so as you look at this forecast going forward, which is also what Moody’s is going to look at, our bond rating agency, this forecast is based on very, very conservative growth and expenditures. And it diminishes very quickly. So, I wouldn’t at all advise an expenditure of reserves for a fire station.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: And I would go back to what Commissioner Eilert said because their reserves are about 22 percent. And he indicated that they would need to really look at that to push their reserves up towards -- back towards 30 percent as far as maintaining their bond rating.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. You know, and honestly if that forecast showed that we’re going to maintain 40 percent over the next ten years, man, I’d love to pay cash for it. But unfortunately it doesn’t and honestly it’s because, you know, that’s the whole idea of this forecast is, you know, do we do that or not. And if we did, you know, I’m going to go ahead and talk about the 300-pound gorilla in the corner of the room. We’re talking about a tax lid. So, let’s say we cash fund it and this trend continues on and all of a sudden Moody’s comes back and says you’re going to lose your bond rating, what do you do? You know, do you just hack, hack, hack. Do you then go out in front of the voters trying to explain to them that while we cash-funded this, but, you know, our forecast has got us down to where in our bond rating we’re going to lose our bond rating which is going to cost another x-amount of millions dollars of year and now we need to do this tax increase, but then we’ve got to go to the vote. I mean, it’s, you know, I guess my attitude is, which I have, was meant to say earlier is, you know, tax -- or mill increases they can be decreases easier than be increase. So, if we look our needs right now let’s say the economy does take off and let’s say, you know, retail expenditures go up. Let’s say the feds pass, finally pass a bill that says internet sales are taxable. Well, then it’s easy for us to come back and say, well, we have more revenue now let’s lower mill levy. But, you know, I don’t want to get in a position -- and I said I do love the idea of cash funding. Look at the forecast. I just don’t think it’s a responsible way to do it because I think we’re going to be stuck in a few years going, okay, what do we do now if this trend continues. And I think what we need is additional revenue to make sure that we don’t get into that position.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I agree with you there. I had in my mind was we had talked about it previously that it was closer to 40 percent. So, I agree. And then another thing to point out is we still have the ongoing $1 million staff cost that would have to come from somewhere to fund the building. I think Jim and then Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. I’m just going to again, going back to the presentation earlier. And again it’s a what-if and it’s pie in the sky and things. But over ten years if the courthouse thing would pass that’s $16 million to us over a period of ten years. And that would go a long ways toward taking care of all of this fire stuff. But that doesn’t solve the problem today, but it’s something in the back of my mind.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yes. I would just urge caution when it comes to reducing the reserve. That doesn’t mean we don’t do it. But I know having talked with colleagues and other surrounding cities, typically one thing that Moody’s will always ask city officials is does your Council have the will to raise taxes, i.e. raise revenue if necessary to maintain a healthy reserve balance. So, that does come up and it has a direct impact. And typically that becomes a pertinent question when that reserve balance is dwindling. But there is a direct correlation there. So, I just wanted to add that.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Anything else on, I guess on any of the other two? All right. Last one is Fund Stabilization and it looks like we had three supporters there. So, any comments on Public Safety Equipment Fund? Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Again, I’d like to sort of just -- simply because if you got it there and stabilized it’s predictable going forward. And you’re going to have to do it sometime perhaps. And I think it’s a good idea. I don’t know if it fits and depends where the other mills and these things work out, how it’s going to fit in there, but it certainly needs to be a consideration.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Well, that concludes the initial Council discussion no Council priorities. So, at that point before we get to voting on individual pieces, I would ask if there is anyone in the audience who would like to speak to this item. You look like you want to. Come on up. And if you want to just state your name and address again for the record. Thank you.
MR. BRUNING: Actually I’m kind of glad that I had a chance to cool off a little bit because I find some of the discussion this evening got me awfully annoyed. I’m sorry, Mr. Vaught. I think you can spend every penny I have in my bank account on this town and I don’t much appreciate it. You suggested that the mill levy, to we’re out of recession. Well, the first thing I’d point out is we may be out of recession, but in my business, to remain competitive, I’ve not been able to increase the fees for my services for six years. My supplies cost more. So, what I’ve learned to do is I’ve learned to do more with less. And I would point that out to everybody here, more with less. I think Colonel Jenkins has some valuable opinions and ideas. I’m not sure that a ten percent cut is necessary. But I was disappointed about the bantering about the continuing education. I don’t think anybody in this room would say continuing education for our personnel is a bad thing. I think we missed the point. I think the point the colonel was trying to make is we need to look closely at our budget and where these expenditures are going. With no disrespect to our City Manager, we have Mr. Vaught again. I’m sorry, sir, I’m going to pick on you for a few minutes, who said we couldn’t micromanage. Well, then he goes ahead and used the interesting comment that our budget is based on what our department heads want. And he said want, not need. And there’s a significant difference there. So, frankly, after his comments I sat over here and I started to steam up to the point that with his attitude I would urge everybody on this board not to vote for the budget because I think every budget can do better. I have to live within my budget. All of you have to live within your budget. And I have a hunch a bunch of you do a heck of a lot better than I do income-wise. And the reason I’m pretty passionate about this, I talk about the fact that I haven’t been increase the fees for the work that I provide to my clients and that’s to remain competitive. So, I have to do more with less. My taxes, my property tax has gone up 23 percent in three years. And if anybody here thinks that is insignificant, then you must be doing a heck of a lot better than I am. That 23 percent on that property tax increases everybody’s coffers, including this City. And to have people sit up here and talk about spend, spend, spend, spend is very upsetting for me as a taxpayer. Now, I think when we start looking at not wanting to micromanage, we have to remember as managers I learned a long time ago to inspect what you expect. That’s a necessity. Now, we have a City Manager who is responsible for doing that. But at the same time we have members of the Council who think that we shouldn’t inspect the City Manager. And, please, believe me, I’m not saying that you have to be inspected or micromanaged. But I want to make sure that my money is being spent properly. And this gets me to the point where I was going to micromanage a little bit myself this evening, and I know I’m running out of time very quickly; however, something that’s been annoying the dickens out of me when I see stuff like the stormwater that needs to be address, I’m driving through Shawnee again this spring for the third or fourth year in a row and I’m seeing miles and miles of curbing torn up and replaced. And I know that’s not cheap. I in my own neighborhood two years ago watched sections of curbing pulled up and replaced and there was nothing wrong with it. Now, that’s not spending my money wisely or anybody else’s money wisely. What I was going to suggest tonight is that we look at these budgets closely enough and ask our City Manager to look at these budgets closely enough to make sure that we’re not doing work that isn’t necessary because in my opinion, instead of replacing miles and miles and miles of curbing, we should be taking that money and putting it into stormwater repairs. That’s all I as a taxpayer ask and beg is that you responsibly spend my money. Make a strong focus on it. Don’t just assume because a department head says they want it that they should get it. That’s not a part of the doing more with less. It’s not cutting back either. It’s just maintaining the status quo. Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure. Thank you, sir. And I would point out, I appreciate your comments that this is a little bit further into the budget process. So, we did have a by department review where we delved into that a little bit more, so I’m not sure if you were able to attend. But just as an FYI, this isn’t the only meeting. So, there’s been a little further of a dive on all that stuff. So, thank you. Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I’d just like to respond, and normally we don’t get into these matches, but -- and you obviously weren’t here for this presentation as well. We do do more with less. We’ve been doing more with less for years. Employees per square mile. Shawnee 7.6, Leawood 20. Twenty employees per square mile. We’re the lowest. We compare to the five top cities in Johnson County, Shawnee Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe, Overland Park. We have the least employees per square mile of any city. Employees per thousand population 4.9, the least of the five cities. The next one is Olathe with 5.2. And Olathe, that excludes our solid waste management service because they actually handle that themselves. Employees per thousand population 4.9 in Shawnee. The next lowest is -- and these are -- we started comparing to what I asked staff years ago is just don’t look at the five local, let’s look at comparable cities across the Midwest. Shawnee, Johnson City, Tennessee, West Des Moines, Iowa, St. Charles, Missouri. Similar in size, similar in population. Employees per thousand population 4.9. The next lowest is West Des Moines, Iowa. Beautiful, beautiful city. They’re six. Expenditure per square mile across our five local ones, $2.40 per square mile expenditures. Lenexa the next lowest, $3.91. $2.40 to $3.91. That’s why when you drive through Lenexa it looks different because they’re spending more money. Not because they want to blow it, because they want their city to look good. Expenditures per square, the three other cities across the country, $2.40. The next cheapest is Johnson City, Tennessee at $3.32, West Des Moines, Iowa at $3.52. Which I’d compared West Des Moines probably to Lenexa in look and feel. I mean, it’s -- we do more with less. We have been. So, to come up and here and say that we can’t do anything, we need to keep doing more with less, it’s not working. Look at Nieman Road Corridor. Look at the vacancy we’ve talked about on Shawnee Mission Parkway. That’s what happens when you continuously do more with less is people don’t want to move their business here. I just told you I’ve got a dentist on Nieman that wants to leave the Nieman Corridor. He might stay in Shawnee. A dentist can’t go very far, he’s going to lose his people. But if he abandons the Nieman Corridor that’s one more shot that you take with an empty building on Nieman Corridor because we’ve got to do more with less. If we can’t do that corridor, we should just let it continue to erode and decay until what? Until it’s empty? It is a responsibility of government to intervene, whether everybody agrees with it or not, to improve the City, to improve these areas, to incentivize these areas and make sure that doesn’t happen. And that’s what we’re doing. I don’t want to raise taxes. I don’t like paying taxes. I live in an expensive house. It costs me a lot. But I also like to take my kids to the park and I don’t like it when things are broken. I like it to be intact. I like to walk into a clean bathroom when they want to relieve themselves in the middle of the day and I don’t have to drive them home. I like it when the fields are mowed when they play soccer. You know, I like it what we can go up to Splash Cove and they can go swim in a really cool pool because that attracts people. I like to drive down the road and not hit pot holes. As far as the curbs go, I think you said you’re in the airline industry or something like that or -- I listen to the engineers. I listen to our engineers that go out and inspect our curbs and say, they might not look bad now, but it’s probably going to look bad next year or we’re on the verge of decay. They don’t just go out and erroneously replace curbs. When you do a main corridor sometimes they will because it’s easier just to do a long run. But they know when the lifespan is hit. And unfortunately what we’re doing with this concrete is years ago, several years or however it was, we had kind of a bad calcium issue in concrete. And there’s some curbs that are accelerating on their decay. Unfortunately we’re paying for it, but it’s happening. And that’s happening all over the City, that’s not just us. That was a little change in the formula and, you know, there you go. But to say that you look at a curb and, well, I didn’t think it needed to be replaced, I don’t know that. But I’m going to trust that our engineers and our inspectors, they’re not trying to spend money. They’re not trying to blow money. Why would they? Most of these people live here, too. And I’ve said this before. All of our senior staff they have to live in Shawnee. They pay taxes. They don’t want their tax money squandered, nobody else does. So, why would they just allow things to get spent erroneously because, well, you’re not paying attention? Well, sure they’re paying attention. The City is tight. It’s very tight. It’s one of the tightest cities I’ve ever seen when it comes to money. They don’t want to spend money. I mean, that’s why we sit here and argue over this. Lenexa a couple years ago passed a five mill increase. Five mills. Wasn’t it five? They went from 24 to 31. Five mill increase. No opposition. Unanimous vote, no opposition. Five mills. I don’t think anybody even showed up to the meeting. And the people in Lenexa are as happy as can be. They think it’s awesome because they got City Center. They’ve got all these beautiful parks. They’ve got five fire stations. Now, am I trying to do that? No.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yes, you are.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: No, I’m not. I’m trying to at least get us competitive. I’m trying to at least get us someplace where, hey, look at Shawnee, they’re doing it. They’re finally taking it serious and they’re finally moving us forward. Because for five years on this Council I’ve seen over and over and over we can’t do that, we can’t pay for that, we can’t do it, we can’t pay for that. And for five years I’ve wanted Nieman Corridor, nothing happened. I’m watching decay on Shawnee Mission Parkway. I’m watching projects not get off the ground. We can’t grow a city that way. And that’s not the kind of city I want to live in. And my assumption is the majority of the people think like me and I’m going to base my decision on that assumption that the majority of the people think the way I do. And if they don’t, vote me out of office. But I’m voting my conscience. I’m voting the way I think the City needs to go. And if I lose an election over it so be it, but I think it’s the right thing to do.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Is there anyone else from the audience who would like to speak to this item? All right. Seeing none, we will move back to Council discussion. I will start with Councilmember Jenkins’ suggestions. I think we have discussed a fair number of them, but I would be open for any motions to amend the budget we have seen with any of those proposals. First up, Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’m just going to reiterate the fact that I still adamantly oppose the tax increase and, therefore, it’s going to be tough to deal with the budget that’s presented because that calls for a tax increase. So, that causes a problem, so.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Can you elaborate on that a little bit? So, the budget that we have right now does not call for a tax increase. The priorities we’re discussing would all be a mill, a tax increase.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Right. And I’m against doing those.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, you could --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’m not against doing all those, but I mean, like I said, the fire station thing shouldn’t even be on this sheet, it should be in the budget. And something on the budget should be in here. I mean, there should be some adjustments made.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I don’t disagree that it’s a priority, but we need I guess more specifics. My point is that the budget that we have, that if we move forward without any changes is not a budget that includes a tax increase at present. The budget that we have on the table is not a tax increase. So, anything that we’re adding tonight would be. But just to clarify, the current budget that we were all presented does not include that at present.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: But there is a disconnect here because some of the things that are in here belong in the budget. And some of the things in the budget belong on here. That’s my point. Okay. Five police officers belong in the budget.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: But, okay.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: The fire station belongs in the budget without a tax increase. Some of the stuff that’s in the budget now needs to be taken out of the budget and to be put on this list, so there needs to be a tit for tat here. There needs to be some exchange of items in the budget.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I promise you that I am not trying to be argumentative. My confusion I guess is that I have heard from you tonight we should not increase staff at any level in our budget. And then I have now just heard that police officer staff increase of five officers should be in the budget.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No, I think I said that earlier in this memo about no cuts to -- that we fund --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, you’re fine with increasing our staff.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: That we fund the public safety infrastructure. I said I am strongly opposing increasing staff levels in any area other than public safety and infrastructure. That’s what I said.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, I guess --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And so those things, they need to be in the budget. And there needs to be a reconciliation, a budget with this list. Some of the things on this list belong in the budget and some of -- and I don’t want to tell them what to take out of the budget and put on this list because I want them to make those choices because the City staff is closer -- up close and personal with those issues and they would do the best job of making that adjustment.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I guess I would counter that. I believe that it is the role of the Governing Body to set the priorities that are within the budget. And I think that includes staffing levels. I think that includes a fire station, what have you. And I think if we’re talking about we’ll say the fire station, so a $4.5 million expenditure. I think if I want that put into the budget, then the onus is on me to find a way to fund that within the budget because I think the budget that has been presented is a needs based budget. So, I’m curious what need it is you would like to remove to compensate for what you -- I mean, it’s easy for me to say I think all of these should be top priorities as well. Gosh, I think, you know, a unicorn should be a priority as well, move it into the budget. But how are we going to do that? I mean, it just seems like a lot of rhetoric to me right now.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It’s not just rhetoric. I think we could absorb into the budget the public safety people. I don’t think that it would be easy to absorb the fire station in the budget. But I already talked about how I would not terribly upset about paying for a fire station out of our reserve fund or even possibly a bond issue when we got the really low interest rates that we have right now to address that. But I do not want to increase the mill levy. So, that’s the only way I could see of accommodating that. But in that case, I would say that the City staff, Carol and her finance director, need to come up with $353,000 to cover the five police officers out of the budget and make adjustments in the budget accordingly.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I have a difference of opinion. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: I just would say when we get the -- when we had the presentation from all of the department heads and things, you know, they said that five police officers is, you know, that’s what he needed and the budget reflects what they have right now. So, this is an increased need. And I respectfully disagree with Eric on this. I agree on the police officers and the staffing, but I don’t believe -- I don’t believe at on the 23rd of June, with all the work that I know has gone into this and priority based budgeting and everything that staff has done, I don’t -- and when does this have to be filed. What is the timeline going up before our meeting the last Monday night in July?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Tonight if we got a motion from the Committee to direct staff to, I believe the way we worded it, to prepare the notice of publication for the July 11th meeting with a tax levy number and/or a base budget in these additional items, or the base budget to prepare that notice. The notice then is published, is approved by you all at July 11th. So, that is again an opportunity to have any more discussion modify the number. Once you publish that number, then that’s the number that the public hearing is held on on the July 25th meeting. That number can be reduced, but it can’t be raised after what’s passed on July 11th.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Okay. Thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. I guess one more comment I would just say. Eric, I am with you. I don’t want a property tax increase any more than you do. I just think that it’s a false premise to be able to say I support all these things. If they were in the regular budget I would support all of those things because it’s just -- it’s not the reality. And we are here to make the hard decisions --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No, Stephanie. That’s not what I’m saying.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: -- and this is a decision of the reality of it.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I’m saying we’re still mis-connecting here.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: $355,000 for the police officers. I believe these guys should be in the proposed budget without the tax increase. There’s items, I talked about cutting some costs as a budget as presented. That would compensate for these 353. So, there should be no growth. It should be a quick exact rate out there. The fire station, I’m with you on the fact that that’s kind of -- where do you come up with $4.6 million out of the budget. That’s going to be a little more difficult and that’s why I’ve offered up a couple other ideas for that as a way to address that. But if we can’t -- if we can’t trip $355,000 out of a $72 million budget, then something is wrong. I think we can. I think we can find that kind of cost savings and take care of the police officers.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I guess I would say that I wish that you would have found that as a part of your presentation.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, I get beat up every time I micromanage. So, that’s micromanagement. I’m getting down to the line item and saying save $35 here and go over here and save $125. I mean, that’s not where I’m coming from. I think Carol and her staff are in a lot better position to say, okay, where could we actually trim a few bucks here and a few bucks there to come up with $355,000? And I think that’s the appropriate way for it to happen. It’s not for me to sit here and say, Carol, you need to cut this and you need to cut that. Now, that is micromanaging. They can do that. That’s something well within their purview. And I think a revised budget that would accommodate hiring of these police officers could be done.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I just think that the conversation tonight has been a lot of very broad. We should just cut ten percent. We should just find 350,000. We should just do this, we should just do that. It hasn’t been done. It hasn’t been done, Eric. And I would love to find that in the budget as much as you would. But we have a tight budget. We’ve been having this conversation all year about what a tight budget is and this is why we have the opportunity. This is why we change the style in which we’ve presented a budget. Maureen did a great job of -- and everyone from the departments of outlining exactly what was in every budget so that the Council was empowered to come in and say this $355,000 is a priority of mine and I value that more than this, so cut that.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Okay. I’ll be very direct. Take it out of Professional Services. Because if you look at every department budget in this City there’s millions of dollars in professional services in there. If we can’t trim $353,000 out of Professional Services, then I just won’t believe that. It’s just impossible to believe that we can’t do that. And so I think we’re having an argument over something that really doesn’t need to be argued. I really think there’s areas in that budget that are soft areas that can be addressed and can be trimmed. And did you have to give up a little something to do that, yes. Do you have to give up five police officers if you don’t? Yes. I’d rather have the five police officers.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: What are Professional Services? What does that entail?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: It entails a whole host of things. Those specific line items. And so every department has professional services line items. Those are --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Millions.
MS. CHARLESWORTH: [Inaudible; talking off mic]
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Oh, yes, you do. In your budget book you have a list of exactly what those are. Would it have been that very first May 17th meeting tab?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: We do.
(Off Record Talking)
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: It might be in the back tab, the Miscellaneous. Here it is. I’m sorry. So, it was one I e-mailed to you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Oh, we can cut pending litigation.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I like that one.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: That gets us halfway there.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: So, these are just very specifically a variety of the things that I guess if you wanted to hit. The bigger dollars are our City Attorney’s contract comes out of that. Litigation comes out of that.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: CityRide, that’s what, 10-10?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: That’s the 10-10 taxi program.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, that serves your ward, so I don’t know. Go ahead and propose that.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Mowing, Operation Green Light, physical and drug and alcohol testing for recruitment. There are many smaller $10,000-$20,000.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Thank you for putting this up there. I guess my point isn’t to say, you know, Eric, find -- go through this list and find these things. But I mean all of these budgets, each of these are individual programs, so I’m trying to figure out where, you know, within this or within the general budget, I’m just trying to -- I would love to find $350,000 to hire them from the budget. I’m just -- I want to deal with reality and not just the verbiage about it. Like, okay, well, do we find it.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: There’s other areas to. There’s a big budget item, $300,000 for education. We’ve got uniforms and I love my public safety guys. But you know what, I spent 34 years in the military and never once did I get my uniforms paid for. I bought them. They gave me a $300 initial issue and that was it. And while I would support it for the junior officers and things like that when they’re coming on board to make sure they’re taken care of and got their uniforms, I mean, officers, my gosh, we’re paying our officers very well. But these are small items.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: These are like nickel and dime things obviously.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: And I don’t want to get wrapped around the asphalt. But that’s what it would take. You’d have to go through and you’d have to take, okay, we save a thousand here. There’s 500. There’s 1,200. Yeah. I mean, do you want me to do that? I mean, I guess I could do that. I could go over to Maureen’s office and sit down with her and we can go through every one of these lines and I could sit here and give my opinion and she can give me her opinion and Carol can sit in and we can all do opinions together and that would be just great. But that’s why I’m putting the requirement on them saying, hey, you know, research that. See if we can come up with some money out of that because that’s really one of the few places to go. I mean, you’re not going to cut salaries. Are we going to cut salaries? No, we’re not going to do that. So, something has got to give. Something has got to give.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Mike and then Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: I hear Jeff’s suggestion earlier which was that this was the budget staff brought us. Either vote it up or vote it down. If we vote it up then this discussion right now is pretty much academic. If we vote it down, then I think that’s when we can decide or we can make recommendations to instruct staff to come back with a different budget. But I feel like right now we’re arguing about budget 2.0 and we haven’t voted on the one that’s been presented and recommended in the packet here. Unless I understood you wrong, Jeff, that’s what I thought you were recommending.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And I want to be clear, there is no recommended budget. We presented a budget with no mill levy increase, but that was not my recommendation.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Okay. I’m reading the memo here where it says staff recommends that the Committee, and it goes on to say a mill rate of 30.536 and a six mill increase. So, that’s a staff recommendation, right?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: That is, yes.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Okay.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: The base budget had no mill increase.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Right.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Right.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: And then in our memo staff recommended that plus this?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: True.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, you know, we look at Professional Services. And you discount that real quick because you realize, well, wait a second, a lot of those you probably can’t do away with. And then you say uniforms. So, the one thing you’ve got to understand about uniforms is if you want to see an expensive police and fire department, go find one where there’s a union. And I think the pretty big reason we don’t have a union in Shawnee is because we take care of our officers with things like uniforms and things that other cities with unions probably don’t pay for. But if you want to see your police and fire costs go up, go and start taking things away from them and let them unionize and then we’ll really see what happens. I mean, it’s not all black and white. And I know that you’re passionate about this. I’ve been up here since 2010. Mickey has been longer. You’re brand new. And that’s not saying you don’t know what you’re talking about, but there are some things in here that there’s reasons they happen. Ask that question. Ask about uniforms. We had these presentations. That was the time to say, well, why do we pay for uniforms. Well, the alternative is let’s let the unions. Let’s let them unionize. I don’t want that. I mean, my dad was a commissioner for Unified Government. If you want to see an expensive fire department, it’s one of the most expensive in the country. It’s totally controlled by the union. I mean, it’s, you know, there is reasons we do things. There’s reasons things happen. On the surface it looks like, oh, my god, that’s a giveaway. Oh, I can’t believe you’re doing that. The Professional Services, I guess what really irks me about that conversation is these assumption is, yeah, most of those are just BS. That’s some stuff that just wanted some gimme project and we’re giving this person 10 grand for nothing. And I don’t know. I mean, I go back to -- I’m going to back to what I just said about these numbers and we all saw them. When we look at how much more efficient we are than these other cities, how much less we spend per capita, per square mile and to say that there’s always money in that budget, well, just maybe there’s not. Maybe there’s really not. Maybe we are just that efficient, which I think we are. Because over five years we’ve been struggling to do this. We’ve been struggling to get things. Our streets were about to fall apart if not for a three-cent sales tax increase because there was no money to fix them. It just wasn’t there. So, I guess we could have -- if we wouldn’t have passed the sales tax, can you imagine the argument we would be having right now? Can you imagine this conversation we’d be having right now if we didn’t pass -- if that sales tax didn’t pass? We’d be screwed. I mean, we’d be nothing. Our streets would be in total decay. And over the next years because we got everybody up here saying, oh, I’m not paying, I’m not increasing taxes. And we would have watched our streets fall apart and everything would have been, nope, it’s public safety or nothing. I mean, this is not -- what staff has asked for is not unreasonable. When we look at other cities, we’re the -- what is it, the fourth lowest mill levy in Johnson County. We’re not -- it’s not like we’re the top of the list, we’re at the bottom of the list. And so it’s great to say, if something is great to be proud of that, look at how low our mill levy is, but if your city is suffering because of it, then it’s not something to be proud of. I mean, Lenexa can be proud of their 12-mill mill levy, well, 12-plus, then fire whatever else adds to it. But Lenexa can be proud of that and they are. But, my god, their revenue is off the charts. I mean, you’ve got 130 -- you’ve got just this massive tax base. We don’t have that. And we’ve got to get there. We’re the third largest city in Johnson County. We’re the seventh largest city in the state and we kind of approach this like we’re some third world nation that just, well, we’re just -- we’re good enough. It’s not, you know, I mean, it’s not Good Starts Here with a lot of us, it seems to be Good Enough Starts Here. I don’t want to be Good Enough Starts Here. I want to be Good Starts Here. I mean, come on. I’m not -- I do not like the idea of raising taxes. But I like the idea of improving our city and given staff members what they need and the tools they need and the revenue they need to get the job done. They’re not being unreasonable. I mean, unreasonable was Lenexa raising five mills with the revenue they have. I don’t know what they’re spending it on, but they’re spending it. And people are moving there in droves.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Well, based on all this discussion then I would recommend if you want to look at a tax increase it should go before our voters. And our voters if they think they want a tax increase, then they can -- and they want to vote for it, I would be happy to abide by their decision because that’s their money. It’s not money. I don’t take their money to spend. If they wish to offer up their money because they want additional goods and services, then I think they certainly have the right to do that in this community. But I don’t feel, after the promises I’ve made to them, the commitments I’ve made, that I have the right to take any of their money away and redistribute it in another way. So, I would suggest if we think we need a mill levy increase that we put it before the people in this community and see if they agree with you.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Eric, that is really not reasonable because we have to have this done. If we put an election in front of the people it takes five months to make it happen. It is going to cost us $60,000 to do it. We have to have this done by August -- end of August by state statute. I will point out another example of what happened last year. The state of Kansas didn’t have the money to do what they needed to do. They made the largest tax increase in Kansas history by raising taxes. They needed the revenue. We need the revenue to provide the services.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: You know, I’m just going to go back to what I always love people campaign on is being a Regan Republican and endorsing or embracing the principles of Ronald Regan and Ronald Regan raised taxes nine times. Ronald Regan was faced with a major deficit in the United States, major problems and he said we’ve got to raise taxes. We’ve got to raise revenue. He even understood that to function as a government it takes revenue. You know, and you do take the taxpayers’ money. That’s what we do. As Councilmembers, we’re sitting up here and we direct where taxpayer money goes. If you don’t want to be a part of it, then resign because we’re going to have the mill levy in place. We’re already doing it. The question is do we raise it. But we’re already doing it. And if you’re not comfortable doing and redistributing it, then you’re in the wrong position because this isn’t anything new. It’s not like, okay, we’re going to start a program of taxes that we’ve never had. No, we’re doing. And we’re in the middle of it. But it’s, you know, for some reason we’ve gotten into this mantra that if you’re a conservative all taxes are bad, all government is bad. We’re not the federal government. I mean, I just listen to you talk about this and it really amazes me because your history with FEMA, I mean, I’ve done a lot of research on FEMA and, wow, that organization can spend some money. A lot of it. You know, mismanagement of the -- total mismanagement of the flood insurance program. There’s all kinds of specials on TV about right now, massive articles, total fraud. And you’re going to sit here on a, you know, that’s a multi-billion dollar program and budget. And here we’re on our City budget, 100 million. You line item, you can see everything.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: [Inaudible; talking off mic.]
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And this attitude that it’s just -- it’s just insane that we can’t do this, we can’t spend this money. I mean, it’s crazy.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Call to order, please.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. I would say we maybe avoid that and make it clear that your allegations about FEMA are not directed towards Councilmember Jenkins and that maybe we move the ball down the road.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: [Inaudible; talking off mic]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [Inaudible; talking off mic]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I appreciate that. I would say that is common, that conversation. So, for what it’s worth, on all sides. That being said, I would repeat, anyone who wants to move forward any of Councilmember Jenkins’ suggestions from his memo and we can take those to a vote. Mike.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: I guess I don’t know if it’s quite that simple. The way I read his memo is at the end he instructs them to come back with a budget that includes the things he’d outlined such as the inclusion of the public safety, but to do so, include those things with a budget that doesn’t have a tax increase. So, I guess I’m not quite sure. I guess he’s not presented an actual budget. His letter here requests that staff present an alternative budget. Is that the motion you’re asking for?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. I should be clearer then I guess. I would say if someone wants to make a motion to move forward with the requests made by Councilmember Jenkins in his memo in its whole.
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: All right. I’ll make that request.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. I don’t think we need a second for it. So, I think we can go ahead and vote on that. I might just do a roll call through all these to make a simple. So, I will start with Councilmember Neighbor?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Jenkins?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kemmling?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: Aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Meyer? Me as a no. Councilmember Vaught?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Sandifer?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kenig?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. I have 5 to 2. The motion fails.
[Therefore, Councilmember Kemmling requested to move forward with Councilmember Jenkins’ proposal. The motion failed 2-5 with Councilmembers Neighbor, Vaught, Meyer, Sandifer and Kenig voting nay.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Moving on to the Council priority list, I would accept a motion to include, and this would be a mill levy increase, and we can go through the specific amount. Jeff, you have a start.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. I think we before we do it I’m just going to go back to what I said on the stormwater. I’d rather propose, I think doubling the stormwater is feasible. When I think that takes, what, a couple mills load off of what we -- doubling would be about 1.7?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: The current revenue at $36 per ERU generates about $1.7. So, doubling that would be $3.4.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, we would go from $3 to $6?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Yes, if you doubled it.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And then that takes, so it relieve how mill pressure?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Well, a mill is about 820,000, so two mills is 1.64. So, close to two mills, just over two mills.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, if we double the stormwater, take the two mills out of the -- take the stormwater, two mills of stormwater out of it --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Direct it towards stormwater.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: -- and then look at our next highest priorities and go from there.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. That is the motion on the floor. So, I will do another roll call.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Can I get the motion exactly? I’m confused.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yes. So, the motion on the floor would be to double in lieu of a mill levy increase for stormwater, it would be to double the stormwater fee from $3 to $6 and apply that equivalent, which would be approximately two mills towards the stormwater backlog that we’ve outlined here.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, it doesn’t address any of this other stuff?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Stormwater.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, this is stormwater only. What about the rest of this stuff I thought we were voting about?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, we’re not going to vote on it in a block as I have said. We’re going to vote on each piece of it because each piece of this is, if someone has interest is a specific part of the mill. I don’t think that there’s anyone here who wants us to vote on this as a whole. Does that make sense?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, you can kind of craft what you want your priority --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: I know what you’re doing. Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I just want people to be able to put their vote where their priority is. Yeah. I think Jim and then Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Stephanie, are we talking this two mills would go to the stormwater annual pipe repair needs, Alternate 2, is that what we’re referring to? Or is it all of the stormwater needs?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: I think what we would ask -- Doug has presented several different alternatives with different numbers just to give you all framework. And so what we would ask is if that is the intent to double the stormwater fee that we’d come back here is how we feel like we could best use that revenue. Whether some of that might be staffing, some of it might be to pipe repairs. But we’d want to come back afterward with a version of those alternatives that matched up to the revenue.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Brandon.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yeah. I didn’t quite understand the motion.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, the motion on the floor is to increase the stormwater fee from $3 to $6, so double the stormwater fee. And apply that funding, which would be equivalent to two mills, towards the stormwater backlog that is outlined in the budget prioritization list here.
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: And so --
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Carol said two mills was equivalent to what was it going to come out against this 4.5 million?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: One mill is 820.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: So, it would be --
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: So, 1.64.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: It would still leave a shortfall about 2.9 million against that 4.5 million?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Oh, absolutely.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yes.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: It doesn’t meet all the needs by any stretch, but it’s a start.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Is everyone clear on the motion? Great. All right. I will move forward. Councilmember Neighbor?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Jenkins?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kemmling?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Meyer is a no. Councilmember Vaught?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Sandifer?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kenig?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Four to three, motion passes. So, we will amend that to the budget, Item 1.
[Therefore, Councilmember Vaught requested to increase the Stormwater Utility Fee from $3 to $6 and apply that funding to the stormwater backlog. The motion passed 4-3 with Councilmembers Jenkins, Kemmling and Meyer voting no.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Moving on, I will accept other motions for any of the other mill levy increases outlined here. Jeff.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I would make a motion to move forward with the Fire Station Number 4.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. And would that be just a general increase of, let me find the total here.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I don’t know what the mills attached to it are.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yeah. I’m going to find it for you. Maybe I’m going to find it for you. So, it looks like 1.77 all in for the building cost and the $1 million in staffing.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Do you want that specifically dedicated to public safety or you just want the increase to equal that amount?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: I don’t think we can actually dedicate, and we talked about this because we can’t -- when you say dedicated like just --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Like a public safety.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: And I don’t think when we vote on mills like, I mean, I think we can do it this year, but we can’t -- what’s the word I’m looking for. Future budgets we can’t --
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Any issue a Council passes is always subject to future Council.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Exactly.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: But certainly for this budget purpose it could be, I mean, if that’s the direction, that’s where the funding will go.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yeah. That’s the intent to use it for.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: But I don’t think we can actually set it up as a dedicated -- can we actually set it up as a dedicated fund, or I’m not sure we can?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Yeah. It would be kind of strange. The mill for the building itself, you know, we’d probably fund the building out of Debt Service Fund. So, we’d put part of that mill to pay for the --
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: So, I mean, ultimately that’s what that mill is --
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: It’s for the debt service.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: It’s being used for is, yeah. I’m saying let’s increase that to be used for Fire Station 4.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And staffing costs are estimates, so a little bit harder to tie back to. But obviously they would be in the General Fund and we could always make that reconciliation whenever we needed to.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, we have a motion on the floor to fund Fire Station 74, construction and ongoing staffing costs at approximately 1.77 mills. Is everyone clear on the motion? Jim, did you have a question?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yeah. And, you know, not to -- I understand the need and what has been said about it and I appreciate it; however, I will say that if that is approved that pretty much shoots for me as I do my list and what I’ve got in my head about mills and things that takes up an awful lot of my bank account. And there’s something things that, you know, the -- what I’m struggling with is there’s some other things on here I think are important. Particularly, I go back to the five police officers as well. I think, you know, and again, it’s all public safety and stuff. But I’m struggling with it, so.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Yep. I understand that. And I would just say that this was the one item again that I supported because I don’t -- I can’t think of a greater priority than saving someone’s life. And I think that we have an unmet need in the northwest part of our city and I would hate to see something happen out there that I think we would regret by not being covered. And I understand all of public safety is important and an additional police officer certainly is important. But we have coverage now and we are really lacking in coverage in the fire department in northwest Shawnee. So, that’s my two cents. Jim.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: May I throw a caveat in here?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Sure.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: That if the courthouse thing would pass and those funds would become available that we would strongly consider dedicating those to taking care of the Fire Department needs and freeing up those mills for other uses.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: It would certainly be up this Council.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I guess my hesitation about that is we’re approving it not knowing whether the courthouse is going to pass or not.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Oh, yes, I understand that.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, that was my pause.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: I understand that.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: So, that would make me hesitant. But by that same token if it did pass this would be the only mill increase I would support. So, I would hate to see it pass and then not paid for. That gives me pause. Mickey.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: In out of all of our priorities the only one that I’ve had any constituents in my ward talk to me about was the fire station in western Shawnee. So, I have to support that.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Eric.
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Yeah. I think I made myself clear on the way I’d like to see the fire station funded and I think there’s other alternatives to it and I don’t want to see it in a mill levy increase. And it’s not that I’m not a supporter. I’m a very strong supporter of a new fire station, but I’m going to have to vote no on a mill increase.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Is everyone clear on the motion? All right. Councilmember Neighbor?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Jenkins?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kemmling?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Meyer is a yes. Councilmember Vaught?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Sandifer?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kenig?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Four to three. Fire station motion passes.
[Therefore, Councilmember Vaught requested to move forward with construction of a new Fire Station 74 and staffing at approximately 1.77 million. The motion passes 4-3 with Councilmembers Jenkins, Kemmling and Kenig voting no.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Any other additions to the budget? All right. That being said, Jim, yes.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Where are we now as far as how much mills?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Well, 1.77 was just approved for the fire station and the doubling of stormwater.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Okay. So, we aren’t there. Okay. So, my motion would be -- I move that we, yes, the police. Five police officers.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. At $353,000, which is 0.1. Where was it at?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yes, 0.1.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: And not to jump in part of the discussion, but I do want to remind you that Chief Moser did mention we were applying for a grant that may, as soon as I can get done what I need to get done, we’re going to submit that tomorrow. That may fund some officers in the future, so that would be helpful. And I think Chief Moser also mentioned that we don’t have to hire five all at once, but certainly that’s up to this Council to weigh five officers with a street inspector or other positions that might be important also.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: But basically what we’re doing now, we are setting it -- this is as of tonight. And if something comes back on the grant and changes before we get to the finalization process that –
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: Yeah. We won’t know before that.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Okay.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: But we’d come back to you then, you know, we got the grant, wahoo. And I don’t want to set expectations too high because a lot of those grant go to bigger urban cities.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Because that’s money that could be transferred to other departments.
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: It could be. That would be a discussion we could have at that time.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. And so actually the five police officers would be 0.49 of a mill to fully fund. But the 0.01 you’re seeing is the City Manager recommendation.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Okay. 0.49.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. So, does everyone understand the motion on the floor, the 0.49 increase for police officers?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Do you need a second?
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: No.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Okay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: But thank you.
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: You’re welcome.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I appreciate that. All right. We will start the roll call. Councilmember Neighbor?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Jenkins?
COUNCILMEMBER JENKINS: Same position as with the fire station, no.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: That’s a no. Okay. Councilmember Kemmling?
COUNCILMEMBER KEMMLING: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Meyer is a no. Councilmember Vaught?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Sandifer?
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Yes.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Councilmember Kenig?
COUNCILMEMBER KENIG: No.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. Three-four. That motion fails.
[Therefore, Councilmember Neighbor requested to move forward to fund the five police officers at approximately 0.49 mills. The motion failed 3-4, with Councilmembers Jenkins, Kemmling, Meyer and Kenig voting no.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Any others? Okay. So, that leaves us with an increase, I guess a doubling of the stormwater fee and an increase of 1.77 for the construction and ongoing staff of a new fire station in addition to the base budget. So, any other discussion on that? Okay. If not, I would accept a motion to direct staff to include a Notice of Public Hearing to be considered by the Council at the July 11th Council meeting using the base budget as presented on May 17th, and including a doubling of the stormwater fee and an increase of 1.77 mills to be directed towards a new fire station and ongoing staffing. Does that sound okay?
CITY MANAGER GONZALES: That’s fine.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. Do I have a motion?
COUNCILMEMBER VAUGHT: Move for approval.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Do I have a second?
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Second.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. A motion and a second on the floor. All those in favor say aye.
COUNCILMEMBERS NEIGHBOR, VAUGHT, MEYER, SANDIFER, KENIG: Aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Opposed nay.
COUNCILMEMBERS JENKINS, KEMMLING: Nay.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Okay. And the two nays are Councilmember Jenkins and Councilmember Kemmling. That motion is approved.
[Therefore, Councilmember Vaught moved and Councilmember Neighbor seconded to direct staff to include a Notice of Public Hearing to be considered by the Council at the July 11th Council meeting using the base budget as presented on May 17th, and including a doubling of the stormwater fee and an increase of 1.77 mills to be directed towards a new fire station and ongoing staffing. The motion passed 5-2 with Councilmembers Jenkins and Kemmling voting no.]
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: All right. That concludes our agenda for this evening. I will accept a motion to adjourn.
COUNCILMEMBER SANDIFER: Motion to adjourn.
COUNCILMEMBER NEIGHBOR: Second.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: I have a motion and second on this item. All those in favor say aye.
COUNCILMEMBER MEYER: Oppose nay. Motion passes. We are adjourned. Thank you.
[Therefore, Councilmember Sandifer moved and Councilmember Neighbor seconded to adjourn. The motion passes 7-0.]
(Shawnee Council Committee Meeting Adjourned at 10:22 p.m.)
I certify that the foregoing is a correct transcript from the electronic sound recording of the proceedings in the above-entitled matter.
/das July 6, 2016
Deborah A. Sweeney, Recording Secretary
Stephen Powell, City Clerk