These meeting recaps are indicative of how I will update residents twice monthly in my efforts to increase transparency and communication as your Ward 3 Councilwoman so you always know what’s happening at City Hall. I make an effort to pull together references from previous meetings, topics, and issues that are relevant in hopes of making some of the ongoing issues more clear.
This is the Prairie Village City Council recap for Monday, May 20th, 2019. You can see the full agenda and board packet HERE.
Council members present at roll call: Herring, J. Nelson, Schermoly, R. Nelson, Poling, Morehead, Runion, McFadden, Odell, and Gallagher.
This months final meeting was a good one to attend. It kicked off the proposed 2020 budget presentations, of which there will be at least one more. All the regular business of Council went very quickly and smoothly. Once Council got to the motion portion of the Council Committee of the Whole in regards to the proposed budget, there was a lot more healthy discussion and respectful disagreement.
Here are some highlights from this meeting:
Two Prairie Village residents from near 76th and Tomahawk spoke regarding unsafe conditions of rentals in their cul-de-sac. Upon research, they learned that there aren’t any ordinances that would prevent this from happening, and asked Council to create a stronger ordinance to ensure residents renting in Prairie Village are safe and not being taken advantage of.
Notes: Councilwoman Schermoly spoke up later in the meeting, and indicated that she had seen at least one of these properties in person during her search for a rental home and was appalled at its condition. Councilman Nelson stated that many renters don’t know their rights as tenants as governed by the Kansas Residential Landlord & Tenant Act of 1975 including “reasonable care in the maintenance” and prohibited retaliation.
You can see the document here: Kansas Residental Landlord & Tenant Act .
Sections of particular note for this conversation would be: 58-2553, Duties of landlord; agreement that tenant perform landlord’s duties; limitations; and 58-2572, Certain retaliatory actions by landlord prohibited; remedies; increased rent, when; action for possession.
The Parks & Recreation committee met 5/8, and toured the new Meadowbrook Park facility and grounds. There will be a public grand opening 6/22 (originally 6/1, but has been delayed since this Council meeting) with various activities and tours available.
The Arts Committee’s inaugural Chamber in the Chamber event was held 5/17 featuring the Opus 76 quartet including our very own Prairie Village resident: Keith Stanfield.
Photos courtesy of Opus 76.
Public Works’ annual Touch-a-Truck event was held 5/15 at the Public Works facility at 3535 Somerset Drive. See HERE for pictures of the event.
Prairie Village Animal Control’s Third Annual [free] Doggie Dash 3K run/walk was held 5/11 with perfect walking weather.
Chief Schwartzkopf encouraged us to join officers for the Special Olympics Torch Run as it passes through Prairie Village 5/28 at Johnny’s in Corinth Square. He also shared that he and Officer Roberson will be attending a Ramadan Fast-Breaking Dinner.
Melissa Prenger, Public Works Senior Project Manager, asked residents to be alert, watch for cones and road closure signs, and check for construction updates HERE.
City Administrator Wes Jordan let us know that our local legislators will be at the June 3rd Council meeting to give their end-of-session updates.
For reference, members of the Finance Committee are:
- Dan Runion, Chair
- Courtney McFadden, Vice Chair
- Ted O’Dell, Member
- Chad Herring, Member
- Tucker Poling, Member
- Sheila Myers, Member
- Eric Mikkelson, Mayor
Most of Finance Director Lisa Santa Maria’s presentation went as outlined in the Council Packet linked above. The only two items that sparked discussion were a set-aside for EV charging stations and the Mill Levy Reduction.
EV Charging Stations – There is a $20,000 line item on page 103 (Decision Packages) for a set-aside for public use electric vehicle charging stations in areas to be determined throughout PV. This project will still go through the normal Public Works proposal and Council approval processes, but Councilman Wang expressed that he was very against paying for installation of these stations for residents’ personal vehicles with taxpayer dollars. Councilwoman Nelson reminded us that supporting efforts “that protect air quality and reduce the dependency on oil” is part of our Prairie Village Legislative Platform which guides policy making and spending for the City. See the revised Prairie Village Legislative Platform on pages 126-129 HERE.
Mill Levy Reduction – The 2020 proposed budget assumes a 1 mill reduction in the overall Mill Levy for Prairie Village from 19.314 to 18.314 resulting in a $439,247.00 reduction in revenue. (Read HERE for a reminder of how PV allocates our local tax dollars.) It was pointed out that this reduction came out of the Finance Committee and had not previously been discussed by the Council Committee of the Whole during budget conversations.
At some point, before Wes and Lisa had even finished presenting the budget, someone made a motion to approve the 2020 Budget as presented.
Councilman Tucker Poling, Finance Committee Member, kicked off the Mill Levy Reduction discussion during the Council Committee of the Whole. He addressed it as “not meaningful tax relief” for residents while providing inordinate savings to out-of-town landlords like First Washington Realty who would save $20,000.00 annually. The savings is $3.34 per month ($39/year) for the “average” household; less for home values under the average of $334,382.00.
Note: At least 59%* of Prairie Village homes are valued UNDER $334,382.00. That means their savings would be lower. More than a quarter of PV residents would be in the savings range of $2.00 to $2.25 per month ($24.00 – $27.00/year).
(*I’m awaiting a more accurate percentage, and hope to have that by next Wednesday.)
Tucker recommends putting those dollars into infrastructure, and if Council is interested in meaningful, targeted tax relief, he has a draft plan he would love to discuss. He moved to amend the motion on the floor to remove the Mill Levy Reduction. There were several seconds to the motion.
Councilwoman Jori Nelson, brought up Dark Store Theory, which is so concerning to the JoCo Board of County Commissioners and the Office of the County Appraiser that they testified in Kansas against it. It has the very real possibility to reduce Prairie Village tax revenue from corporate property owners through reduced valuations based on vacant buildings pushing the tax burden to residents. It is also about time for another recession according to financial advisers. Jori believes that now is the time to prepare and plan for the rising costs of construction and personnel, and it would be more responsible to put the money to use in infrastructure, more city services, or to save it for a future unexpected need like storm damage repair and cleanup.
Mayor Eric Mikkelson countered statements from Tucker and Jori that he characterized as “misleading”. He said that, in fact, tax is the only way TO ensure that every family sees a savings. He said $40 per year means something to residents on fixed incomes. He clarified that the reduction is not permanent, nor is it a “tax cut”. He said we can reset the mill levy each year, because the Property Tax Lid is rife with exceptions that would allow PV to raise the Mill Levy back up as needed based on the expenditures. He stated that this 1 mill reduction was a compromise from a deeper reduction proposed within the Finance Committee. Mayor Mikkelson stated that this measure is a chance to affect housing affordability.
Councilwoman Courtney McFadden, Finance Committee Vice Chair, spoke next and said that the funds should go to infrastructure. Reasons she listed included: residential sales are trending down, retail sales tax is going down, and infrastructure costs are rising. As a matter of fact, just in the last two weeks, 2 Prairie Village projects have gone over budget due to rising costs. Also, construction on two major metro projects is kicking off, KCI and the expanded Burns & McDonnell HQ; which will reduce the pool for construction workers.
Councilman Chad Herring, Finance Committee Member, also supported Tucker’s amendment and would like to hear more about a meaningful targeted tax relief idea.
Councilwoman Serena Schermoly said that when you’ve been asked by multiple residents when their streets will be fixed and you have to tell them 5-6 years from when it gets to “poor” condition, you’ll know that we need the funds for infrastructure.
Councilman Andrew Wang stated that the reduction isn’t meaningful, and asked why we wouldn’t put this toward our city debt instead. In lieu of that, it should go to infrastructure. 5-6 years is too long to wait for street repairs.
The amendment to remove the Mill Levy Reduction from the 2020 budget passed 8-4, and the motion to approve the budget with the amendment passed 8-4. Councilors O’Dell, Runion, Myers, and Morehead voted nay on both.
The City Council took the following actions:
- Approved the regular City Council meeting minutes – May 6, 2019
- Approved expenditure ordinance #2978
- Appointed Nancy Robinson to the Environmental Committee
- Approved the hiring of H&H Roofing and Restoration for the Salt Barn roofing project.
- Directed staff to research the feasibility of conducting interior inspections on rental properties as part of the rental licensing requirements
Note: the request from Republic Services to increase the monthly service fee another $1.75 to cover the unexpectedly and quickly increasing costs of recycling did not ever get out of Committee of the Whole, so the idea is dead unless/until Republic comes back with a different proposal offering more value for the increase. Value such as education or transparency.
- June 2019 Featured Artists: Ted Denton, Hank Hall, P. Ebel, Maegan Kirschner
- June 3 City Council Meeting (w/ legislator end-of-session updates)
- June 14 Artist Reception in the R.G. Endres Gallery, 6-7 p.m.
- June 17 City Council Meeting
- June 22 Meadowbrook Park Public Grand Opening 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Your friendly PV Ward 3 Council Candidate,