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Council Meeting Recap – 06/15/20

Posted by Bonnie Limbird

City Council discussed the future of Curbside Glass Recycling and Food Compost, extended the declaration of emergency for the City, and discussed, edited, and approved a Council Statement on Racial Justice! Read on for more.

This is the Prairie Village City Council meeting recap for Monday, June 15, 2020. You can see the full agenda and board packet HERE.

Council members present at roll call: Herring, J. Nelson, Selders, R. Nelson, Poling, Limbird, Myers, Reimer, Runion, McFadden, Graves, and Gallagher.

Here are the highlights of this meeting:

Committee Reports

Planning Commission

Jamie Robichaud, Deputy City Administrator, presented Council with information about an appeal of a Planning Commission decision regarding an exception to 19.44.025 of the City’s Zoning Regulations (pg. 159 HERE) at 7052 Cedar Street regarding required fence setback.

The appellants had the opportunity to speak to Council, and Councilwoman Nelson shared the outcome of her visit to their home to understand the issue. Based on the information provided by staff, Councilwoman Nelson’s report, and the Planning Commission decisions in similar situations this year, I was against approving this appeal. As it turned out, Council voted unanimously to deny the appeal and upheld the Planning Commission decision.

It’s important to note here that appeals of Planning Commission decisions to the city council are very rare because of our great staff in the community development department at City Hall, which includes our Code Enforcement Officers, Building Inspectors, and our Building Official. They are VERY easy to work with. They explain the regulations very clearly, are always available for questions, and will tell you the processes for variances and appeals if you have the need for them.

Arts Council

I shared that the Arts Council members voted to cancel the August and September gallery shows and to transition the October State of the Arts annual juried show to an online virtual event. I also gave them a heads up that the Arts Council would be bringing forward a proposal next month to hire an independent contractor for three months to set up a social media marketing plan, and that Arts Council wants to be part of planning for a ribbon-cutting for the new bicycle statue at 75th & Mission.

Environmental Committee

Jori Nelson, Ward 1, representing the Environmental Committee, reported that she and Ian Graves, Ward 6, have met with Dynamhex, a local software company that measures greenhouse gases. (Roeland Park recently contracted with them to become Dynamhex’s first municipal client.)

Per the Dynamhex website, their software will:

Identify measures of climate change action on clean energy and emission reductions. See across businesses, homes, and transportation. Set reduction targets and track this progress using your own consumption data with respect to science-based, climate change sustainability trajectory, and regional reduction pathways.

Dynamhex will present to the environmental committee soon, and then to City Council in August. I’ll let you know what meeting; it should be really interesting.

VillageFest Committee

Everything you need to know is in the awesome graphic:

Drive Through Event, Social Media Festivities, Sidewalk Art Contest, Photo Contest, and PV Trivia.

Mayor’s Report

  • New COVID-19 cases in Prairie Village seem to be flat.
  • Some areas of JoCo are seeing resurgences of COVID-19.
  • We need to continue to wear masks when you can’t socially distance.
  • Staff has coordinated with Village Merchants Association and Corinth Shops to compile hours, mask requirements, etc. for individual shops.
  • PV expects to receive some of the federal money from the County for non-budgeted COVID-19-related expenses (plastic barriers, etc.)
  • Many of our councilmembers attended the PV Black Lives Matter Rally last week. It was a peaceful and passionate protest with estimates of about 1,000 people in attendance.
    • Chief Schwartzkopf and the PV Police Department were integral in planning and in attendance to maintain safety for everyone.
  • PVPD has also responded to the #8cantwait initiative, and you can see how we align HERE.
  • PV received a letter of thanks from Overland Park Mayor Gerlach for allowing PVPD officers to fill shifts so OPPD officers could attend Officer Mosher’s funeral.

Staff Reports

Chief Schwartzkopf made clear in a statement that the treatment of George Floyd and the use of force in Minneapolis was unacceptable and those officers should be held accountable. PVPD officers wear body cameras which turn on automatically in situations of public contact, and officer videos are reviewed quarterly for performance reviews. He recognizes that they’re not perfect as a department, but he and his command staff are meeting with residents and community groups to get feedback, learn, and improve.

Kieth Bredehoeft, Public Works Director, reported that a website with information for residents, cyclists, and drivers on the road sharrows is coming soon.

Jamie Robichaud, Deputy City Administrator, updated us on Large Item Pickup. There was an inordinate amount of large items left out this year, and city staff will evaluate the possible reasons for that moving forward for 2021, but by the end of next week, it is expected that Republic will be complete with both sections for this year.

After staff reviews the information provided from Republic on this year’s program, they will bring back that and recommendations to Council in about 6 months for the 2021 program..

My words here: There have been a lot of unkind emails and calls to staff on the delay in pickup. Staff have done their best to communicate to residents on all no-cost platforms available to them (website, e-News, Facebook, Twitter, NextDoor, Instagram) about the delay and the expectations of completion since the first Saturday when it became clear Republic wouldn’t finish. Those residents need to be more understanding and civil to our city staff on issues. *If residents do not feel they’re getting information in a timely manner, it is incumbent up themselves to take the extra steps necessary to sign up for the additional platforms available for opt-in, such as:

Old Business

Chad Herring, Ward 1, moved to extend the Mayor’s Declaration of Emergency another 30 days through August 17th. This passed unanimously.

New Business

Consider Cancellation of the 2020 JazzFest

J.D. Kinney, a longtime JazzFest volunteer and leader, presented the reasons the JazzFest committee voted to recommend cancellation of the 2020 JazzFest. Their primary concern was the safety of the several thousand attendees, but was also backed up by the practical concerns of the loss of revenue from ticket sales and sponsorships and the added costs of PPE (personal protective equipment). City Council approved unanimously.

Official statement:

To our Kansas City Jazz community – it is with heavy hearts that we announce the 2020 Prairie Village Jazz Festival will not be held this year.

Though our event is held outdoors, the intimate nature of Harmon Park is what makes the Jazz Festival both a world-class music event and, in the age of Covid-19, a safety concern for our volunteers, performers, and our diverse audience. Because there are so many unknowns at this time, including public health and performer, vendor and sponsor availability, our planning committee and the Prairie Village City Council unanimously agreed this week to postpone the event until September 11, 2021.

Just because we’re on pause for 2020 doesn’t mean the music has to stop! Stay tuned as we roll out Jazz Fest greatest hits, favorite memories, and of course some amazing Kansas City jazz music over the next few months.

Thank you to everyone who made the first ten years of the Prairie Village Jazz Festival an incredible success. We can’t wait to #FilltheHill with you again next year!

Consider approval of a joint statement from the Prairie Village Governing Body regarding racial justice

Councilwoman Myers, Ward 4, gave the background for the origination of this draft statement sharing that she felt moved to do so immediately after the previous meeting and regretted not bringing it up at that time. She worked with Wes Jordan, City Administrator, and together they drafted this joint statement for council and staff.

Councilman Poling, Ward 3, thanked Sheila and Wes for their work on the initial draft and presented a list of edits for the council to consider, and Councilman Nelson, Ward 2, also presented one language clarification. Both of these councilmembers’ edits were accepted and the joint statement was approved unanimously. Here are some of the edits along with the final approved statement below that:

  • protect staff from future statement conflicts by removing them from this statement. (they will probably do their own.)
  • words matter: it was murder, not just a death
  • avoid language that frames racism as only a problem of the past
  • be clear that counteracting racism is a process, not a destination
  • acknowledge PV’s own problematic history with racism and ongoing present problem of lack of diversity
  • reject the militarization of the police; promote guardian status over warrior status
  • add “segregationist deed restrictions” to language about redlining

Council Committee of the Whole

Consider an amendment to Chapter II (Animal Ordinance) of the Municipal Code and Section 19.36.005 (E.) of Zoning Regulations to allow residents to keep chickens

This passed 9-3. The Zoning regulation portion now has to go to the Planning Commission and we hope to have a final vote on chickens in August.

The bulk of this conversation revolved around HOA (Home Owners Associations) deed restrictions, and I’ll just say that deed restrictions are different than city ordinances, building codes, and zoning regulations. They just are. HOA restrictions are often more restrictive than ordinances, and private contracts between homeowners and private companies or non-profits should not be taken into consideration when setting city policy.

2021 Budget

Lisa Santa Maria, Finance Director, presented the final proposed 2021 budget (approved by the Finance Committee).

Highlights:

  • Prairie Village home valuations went up 7.2% from 2019 to 2020 (compared to 9% from 2018-2019).
  • That makes the average cost of a PV home $377,986 (compared to $359,987 in 2019)
  • Overall General Budget: $24,349,734 (compared to $23,868,123 in 2020)
    • That’s a 2% increase from 2020 to 2021
  • PV Mill Levy to remain static right around 19.32 mills
    • This 19.32 represents only a small wedge of the pie of our taxes each year. Here are the other portions from the property tax pie (%s from 2019):
      • SMSD – 43.5%
      • Johnson County – 16%
      • City of Prairie Village – 16%
      • Consolidated Fire District No. 2 – 9.5%
      • Community College – 8%
      • JoCo Parks & Rec – 3%
      • JoCo Library – 3%
      • State of Kansas – 1%
  • Departmental budget breakdowns don’t change much from year to year:
    • Police Department – 40%
    • Public Works – 30%
    • Community Development – 15%
    • Administration – 9%
    • Community Programs – 3%
    • Municipal Court – 3%
  • Windsor Park restroom construction remained in the 2022 calendar year. (At one point it was moved tentatively out to 2023, but fellow Ward 3 Councilmember Poling and I advocated strongly that those restrooms not be pushed out any further.)
  • The Solid Waste Assessment will go DOWN in 2021 to $218 annually from $228, but that wasn’t finalized until the discussion below…

So most, if not all, recycling falls under “solid waste”, and the solid waste assessment is an additional assessment for residents whose HOA does NOT provide their solid waste pickup service. If that’s you or you’re like my household, and you don’t have an HOA at all, then you’ll see the assessment on your annual property tax bill listed as “PVC WCOL 1”.

The solid waste assessment discussion this year centered around the proposed curbside recycling and compost programs that the city has been piloting since the first part of 2020. The discussion was long and somewhat confusing, but out of the pilot program and follow-up surveys (to pilot participants AND non-pilot residents), the city came up with 5 options for the council to review in no particular order. Here are my personal assessments of each:

  • Option 1: make no changes to city-provided solid waste services, but negotiate rates with vendors that PV residents can access when signing up individually directly with the vendor(s).
    • My preference given all the information I had at the time, and I voted for this twice.
  • Option 2: add curbside glass and food compost services (not recommended by the Finance Committee) at a minimum 50% increase over the 2020 assessment to EVERY resident.
    • I would have personally signed up for Option 2 in a heartbeat because I’ve tried to compost on my own and I failed 🥺, but this was just too expensive for many of our PV homeowners during any year, let alone in a year like 2020.
  • Option 3: – add only curbside food compost services (not recommended by the Finance Committee) at a minimum 43% increase over the 2020 assessment to EVERY resident.
    • Again, I’d love to have this, but it’s too expensive.
  • Option 4: add only glass recycling services at a 2-6% increase over the 2020 assessment to EVERY resident.
    • The curbside glass recycling survey had a pretty high percentage of respondents who said they’d be willing to pay something for this service: between 71 and 74%. That’s really good. And this isn’t that expensive, really. But at the end of the day, the residents who would use the service are already collecting and taking their glass recycling to Ripple or some other collection space, and I don’t believe collecting curbside would decrease the amount of solid waste sent from PV to our landfill or decrease the carbon emissions in manufacturing. To do that we need a robust informational and educational campaign to increase the recycling rate… to convince more residents to recycle and help them figure out how.
  • Option 5: Build a rate subsidy into the solid waste assessment to make curbside compost and glass recycling more affordable for PV residents (who opt-in directly for the services with the vendor) at a 1-6% increase over the 2020 assessment to EVERY resident.
    • I just don’t like the idea of subsidizing these types of services. Yes, eventually I would like for these types of waste reduction services to be included as part of city services right along with water, trash, and public safety; and homeowners wouldn’t bat an eye because this is just what we do to live and maintain our environment, but we’re not there yet. And making everyone chip in for a service that only a certain percentage of our population can afford to pay the other half of, is not the right solution because it ignores the prioritized needs and the lack of resources of the most budget-strapped in our community. I voted against this.

So, Option 1 was the option that moved forward. It was a 6-6 tie, with Mayor Mikkelson breaking the tie. We never did get to vote on Option 4. I’m not sure why we hopped around (from #1 to #5 and back to #1), but parliamentary procedure made voting on any other options after one had been approved moot.

The overall proposed 2021 budget was approved unanimously.

Just a Couple Reminders:

We are in Phase 3 of the Prairie Village Reopening Plan.

Please socially distance at 6′-0″ minimum.

Upcoming Events

  • June 25th – VillageFest Committee, 5:30 p.m.
  • July 3rd – City offices closed in observance of Independence Day
  • July 4th – VillageFest To-Go
  • July 6th – City Council Meeting, 6:00 p.m. on Zoom via Facebook Live which is accessible to ALL residents even if you don’t have a Facebook account.
  • July 7th – Planning Commission, 7:00 p.m.

👋

STAY WELL & enjoy the rest of the week.

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