Kansas Representative Stephanie Clayton, District 19 (basically Ward 5), as per usual, gave Council and attendees a thorough and enlightening rundown of upcoming issues and harbingers of things to come. 😁
Taxation: We are in a very good place with revenues coming in above projections due to the tax reform put in place by a bipartisan legislature in 2017. Constituents have been asking for a tax reduction or tax elimination on groceries and feminine hygiene products, so expect to see some things coming up on those in January.
Medical Marijuana: Another bipartisan effort to have medical marijuana made legal by the House. If you see value in this, please reach out to your Senator (Ethan Corson).
Liquor Laws: An interim committee is looking at these in regards to smaller liquor stores. Keep that on your radar as we have several of those small businesses in PV.
Unemployment Insurance Reform: In response to major cyber attacks on government systems from eastern Europe organized crime units. The reform includes increasing security and raising infrastructure funding.
STAR Bonds Reforms: Watch for this reform which effects economic development, mostly in larger cities, but with some effect in smaller cities like PV.
Education: COVID revealed how much families depend on the school systems for, not just education, but child care and nutrition and more. Any attacks on education funding affect the overall stability of constituents’ lives.
Redistricting: We will be adding 3 House seats and at least 1 Senate seat.
Vicki Riffel (sp?), PV resident, spoke to Council on the topic of a community center and what a sad state our library, community building, and YMCA are each in. She is disappointed that the topic has been tabled.
I will say that only the partnerships with the Y and the library are tabled at this time as each organization determines the future post-COVID, but PV is still very much talking about our facilities and how to move forward with or without those partners. I am advocating for a Master Plan, such as we do with our parks, to determine the priorities and timeline for specific projects in and around the City campus and Harmon Park.
For public participation in this part of the meeting, Representative Steven Johnson (Salina), Republican challenger for State Treasurer, spoke to Council about bonding of the police pension. He recommended that we purchase bonds to maximize our police pension, but the PV Police Pension committee has already talked about and dismissed this idea as too risky with not enough added value.
The Police Pension committee determined, and the City Council ratified their decision, that the pension fund is right on track for where it needs to be to fully fund our retirees.
Continued discussion of this topic is just to keep alive a campaign talking point for some of the PV candidates on the ballot in November. It is also, IMHO, a not-so-subtle back-end tactic to limit the City’s borrowing power for other items on residents’ wish list: aka a Civic Center (re: Vicki’s comments above). So keep that in mind when certain people want to tell you it’s a binary choice. It’s not. Our police force AND their pensions are fully funded to their specific requests and needs, AND we can also invest in our community with (limited) future capital projects, whatever those might be. I foresee a robust community planning discussion in the near future to determine what PV residents’ priorities and wish list items are. Stay tuned. 😊
Continuing on with the Public Hearing specific to the so-called “revenue neutral rate” (RNR), City Finance Director, Nickie Lee, gave a brief presentation on the 2022 Budget and the RNR. The slide deck begins on page 111 of the Council packet.
- The “all in number” for expenditures in the 2022 General Fund represents a 5% increase in comparison to the 2021 Budget – $25,638,229 versus $24,349,734 (For comparison, the total 2021 budget last year represented a 9% increase over the previous 2020 adopted budget.)
- The total all fund budget is $43,986,889.
- The Mill Levy rate remains flat at 19.321 and meets the 25% fund balance goal.
- We budget the General Fund balance at a 25% target fund balance (25% of revenues less transfers in and less the transfer to the Bond & Interest Fund)
- The recommended budget does exceed the RNR as a dollar amount (not a tax rate) and requires a public hearing and resolution.
- The Finance Committee and Council approved $509,000 in decision package items which included:
- an additional public works full time employee,
- sustainability grants for homeowners,
- energy audit implementations,
- a 5-year salary survey update,
- a Police Department canine unit (we’ll all get to meet “Blitz” and his handler in the Fall!),
- carbon emissions tracking software,
- annual diversity training,
- permit software to provide better customer service,
- a property tax relief program for homeowners, and
- an increase of funding to the Streets Capital Infrastructure Program.
History of the Prairie Village Mill Levy Rate:
John Beeder, candidate for PV City Council Ward 5, joined the public hearing to comment on the issue he says he hears most from residents which is their concern for their rising property taxes. (Same as I heard in 2019 from those of us in Ward 3.) He would like to see an analysis of these rising rates, if it exists. (So would I, but I don’t think it exists.) He said the Village Vision neglected looking at affordability of senior citizen homes in the future so they can age in place. (That is incorrect. This is one of my #1 issues for PV, and I am a member of the new PV Ad Hoc Housing Committee to look to addressing this.)
Council entertained a motion to accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approve PC2021-117, a revised preliminary development plan for the Meadowbrook Shopping Center located at 5300 W 95th Street. Motion passed unanimously. Look for exciting new updates to this Shopping Center by Spring 2022, including some new public artwork!
Council approved a Resolution authorizing the offering for sale of special obligation tax increment revenue refunding bonds (Meadowbrook TIF project) of the City of Prairie Village, Kansas on a vote of 10-2.
Bottom line: This is an opportunity to eliminate the City’s liability on the Meadowbrook TIF project by consolidating two different types of bonds from the project (one with liability and one without) into one single type that leaves the City with zero liability on that project.
The new, unrated, special obligation (SO) bonds will have the same maturity date (2036), and would still expect to be paid off even earlier than that at the rate we’re currently paying. The City retains our AAA bonding rate for future use (if ever needed), and it possibly even strengthens our position. Also, the City would retain 100% of the Transient Guest Tax revenue. The fees required to prepare this sale (some of which are contingent on selling the bonds in the first place) would be paid out of the bond proceeds, NOT the general operating budget, and would still save the City money.
Councilmember Chad Herring let us know that the Tree Board met in September, and the Fall Tree Board seminar is coming up October 13th, at 7pm.
Councilmember Ian Graves reported on the Environmental Committee and the brainstorming session they recently had on events/workshops they could do to help with resident education. Ideas include: a collaboration with Mission, Kansas on an environmental fair and consideration of the Race to Zero campaign to reduce carbon footprint. PCs for People will be coming to the next committee meeting to talk about electronic recycling, and a JoCo recycling organization will be advising the committee on doing a local recycling drive.
Councilmember Inga Selders updated us on several topics discussed at the last Diversity Committee meeting. Todd Harris, Diversity Committee member, will be joining the PV Housing Ad Hoc Committee and will act as a liaison to the Diversity Committee. Taryn Jones with Equality Kansas also spoke to the committee to talk about conversion therapy and its detrimental effects on youth. Work on the interpretive panels for the JC Nichols racial restriction history in PV is ongoing, and the committee is working with UMKC students on that project.
- COVID update
- Vax – JoCo = 60.2% for 12+ yo (of those vaccinated IN Kansas)
- Vax – PVKS = 64.2% for 12+ yo (of those vaccinated IN Kansas)
- JoCo is STILL a high transmission area classified by CDC
- Most new cases are among unvaccinated with some transmission to vaccinated persons.
- Our next Council meeting agenda will include discussion about extending, or letting expire, the current mask mandate.
- The PV Pool is now officially closed for the season.
- Chief Roberson was recently appointed to the JoCo Criminal Justice Advisory Council.
- Finance Director Nickie Lee’s work on the annual financial documents garnered PV the GFOA top honors yet again.
- Upcoming events:
- 9/13, 5:30pm: JoCo Charter Commission meeting, encouraging public participation
- 9/15, 4:00pm: Skate Park ribbon-cutting ceremony, and stunt demonstrations
- 9/16, 5:30pm: Housing Ad Hoc Committee, first meeting
- Teen Council applications are now open!
Chief Byron Roberson
Chief Roberson shared a couple of upcoming events:
- Faith & Blue is an event where PVPD cooperates in conjunction with all of different religious institutions in PV to put on a fun-filled event outdoors. They will also be incorporating a food drive called Cram the Cruiser to raise awareness, and food, for hunger in our community. There will also be a friendly volleyball tournament. Nall Avenue Church of the Nazarene, October 9th, noon to 4pm.
- Over 1,100 votes were recorded, and the new K-9 officer is now named “Blitz”. “Blitz” and his handler, Officer Ben Overesch, will be heading to Pennsylvania for about 6 weeks of training, and they should be back on duty by the end of 2021 with some fun events to introduce them to the PV community.
Keith Bredehoeft, Public Works Director
The Skate Park will actually be back open this week. Micro surfacing/UBAS projects across the city are going well. Street rehab projects are also going well. 71st Street was paved today, and the rest of State line will be paved later this week.
City Council approved a resolution in accordance with state statute to allow us to maintain our flat tax rate of 19.321 mill levy. This does increase our total dollar amount as property values increase to allow us to continue maintaining the same level of service and value to PV homeowners as costs increase year over year due to inflation and other factors, as well as make the investments listed above to improve service, efficiency, and stewardship to our residents and community.
A motion had been made previously (by me) to reduce the mill levy rate slightly, but it was voted down. There was no motion made this time to reduce the mill levy.
There was a motion to eliminate our contingency fund, but that failed, and rightly so, as it would be imprudent financially and would affect our financial ratings.
Councilmember Piper Reimer pointed out how good the Council discussion was and that it illustrates how seriously we are taking our fiduciary responsibility and resident comments.
Councilmember Terrence Gallagher pointed out that we have really looked deeply into all of the ideas presented tonight. The suggestions brought up by a couple councilmembers tonight weren’t new ideas. Those ideas were discussed early on in the process and were voted down for various reasons. He stressed “We are reinvesting in our community; not just spending money.”
Council voted 10-2 to approve the 2022 budget as published.
Reappointment of City Administrator
Wes Jordan was unanimously reappointed as Prairie Village City Administrator and sworn in by Mayor Mikkelson.
We approved Bird Scooters in PV as a limited partnership under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mayor breaking a 6-6 tie. I voted for this with the knowledge that it’s just a one year trial and with the stipulation that we can cancel the MOU with a month’s notice if too many minors are using them or they’re being used on the sidewalks and compromising the safety of residents. *They’re meant for 18 and older and for use on the streets like bicycles.
Hybrid Council Meetings
Council voted 9-3 to direct staff to set a date to go to hybrid meetings for City Council. Any council member can choose whether to attend in person or remotely with the new technology recently installed and tested in Council Chambers. Each attendee will have latitude to attend in the format they feel most comfortable based on current COVID numbers and their own personal comfort level. Details on how public participants and other presenters will interact should follow from staff.
Mission Road at 68th Street Flood Control Project Budget
Cliff Speegle, Public Works Storm Water Project Manager, gave us an update on this flood control project which will address roadway and home flooding along Mission Road north of Tomahawk Road caused by flooding of Brush Creek. Since the original 2018 estimates, the budget cost has increased from $2.5m to $3.65m to include engineer-recommended retaining walls. Johnson County Stormwater Management Program (SMAC) funding will still cover 50% of the project costs, and the increase in the City portion will come out of the 2022 drainage line item that is there for just such a purpose.
No vote was required on this topic. It was just an update.
So that’s it for last week. Some things I’ve been up to:
- SMSD Volleyball season started, so I’ve been supporting the sophomore/C-Team from the stands fully masked and socially distanced!
- Volunteering behind-the-scenes for local SMSD school board candidates. Don’t forget to vote November 2nd!
- Met with an Arts Council subcommittee to draft a revised 2022 calendar to incorporate the Meadowbrook Clubhouse gallery space.
- Meeting with my Senior Girl Scouts to plan their Silver Award project at Camp Tongawood in Tonganoxie.
- Had coffee with two City Council 2021 candidates (PV and OP!).
- Kicked off the SME PTSA year with our first (and maybe only) in person meeting, and met some wonderful parents volunteering their time to Shawnee Mission East. (I’m the recording secretary for this school year.)
- Gave double red blood cells at PV City Hall right in the Council chambers:
- Attended the Lancer Day parade (fully masked and socially distanced).
- Met with the new “Voter Girl” committee consisting of League of Women Voters and Girl Scouts board members to implement a new Girl Scout program on voting for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors in January 2022.
If you’re still concerned about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, please read this article that includes how the vaccine was rolled out (seemingly) so quickly and this article on myths vs. facts, both from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Please be well and have a great weekend.