ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), Arts, Arts Council, Attainability, Budget, Construction Projects (City), Crime, Design Standards, Diversity, Environment, Health, Housing, Parks, Policing, Recreation, Recycling, Sustainability, Teens, Youth

Council Recap – 01/17/22

Posted by Bonnie Limbird

Presentation – Republic (Waste) Services

Tyler Riordan, Municipal Sales Manager, attended this month’s meeting to talk about the slips in service these last several months and what they’re doing to remedy the situation. He stated that the issues were primarily caused by staffing of drivers and maintenance techs, but they report that they are now fully staffed. However they have no extra staff in the case of sickness, attrition, etc.. Republic has also started using driver tablets to help streamline and time-check routes. Tyler also listed the current drivers, their experience, and their PV routes.

Residents who still have outstanding trash or recycling service issues can now contact Republic Services directly, and LOCALLY, at 816-521-3122 (ask for Linda) in lieu of calling the call center.

May be an image of text that says 'Solid waste update ç New phone number for Republic Services 816-521-3122'

We are 6 years into a 10 contract.

Republic is also working closely with staff and JoCo for the Recycle Right program that PV signed up for late 2022. They’re cycling through the days of the week for service – Monday routes, then Tuesday routes, etc. etc., and they’re currently almost complete with the Monday routes.

Public Participation

Mayor Mikkelson called the residents to the podium one-by-one who had signed up to speak for three minutes. Residents were invited to talk about trash pickup service first:

  • Jerry Hughes – asked where the trucks start each day and where they dump. The PV trucks start each day at 7th St Tfwy in Fairfax and dump at the JoCo Landfill in Shawnee.
  • Debbie Kerr – lives in a cul-de-sac and finds that it’s challenging currently to get in and out of their streets with the current construction on Mission and understands that it may be tough for the Republic trucks as well. Asked when Mission Rd construction will be complete. Keith answered that there is no exact date yet, but hoping to keep open for one lane of traffic each way for the remainder of the project. It will be a few more months and Mission Rd will also be repaved.
  • Geoff Alston – overall Republic has been doing a good job for his HOA.

Mayor Mikkelson gave a top-of-2023 status of the housing recommendations. We have implemented some of the recommendations already – those that didn’t need to go before the Planning Commission – expanding the exterior grant program, the tax rebate program, etc.. For the more controversial items, the ball is now in the PC’s court, where they have made a decision to prioritize the R3 and R4 districts (the existing multifamily apartment complexes) and have tabled the R1 and R2 discussions. The next step will be at the February 7th PC meeting to continue their conversation. There are no specific proposals on the table yet, and there won’t be for many months. No one is in any rush on this issue.

Councilwoman McFadden asked that any proposals that do come out of the PC get vetted by staff, City Attorney, and filter through Council questions, and the mayor agreed that that is the plan.

Here are the folks I don’t believe have spoken before at meetings on the zoning topic:

  • Bill Watson – asked questions about how rezoning won’t threaten the neighborhood and if legal advice was sought out. Wants “by right” removed from any recommendations. Stated that Village Vision 2.0 only had 200 responses, and asked if Council was attempting to bypass due process.
  • Geoff Alston – accused councilmembers of backtracking on their promises to be representative of their constituents.
  • Peter Gregg – he believes the most important issue here is the opinion of current residents.
  • Doug Luther – spoke about the agenda item to consider health insurance for governing body members and their families. Is concerned about the cost of it, and when it would be implemented since it’s not in the 2023 budget. Thinks the governing body has worked for 70 years as a volunteer body and it should continue to do so.
  • Lane Klein – concurred with other speakers and abstained from speaking himself
  • Betsy Hornbeck – hopes PV remains the way it is today.
  • Russell French – concerned about the changes to R1 and R2 and doesn’t understand why it should change.
  • Tom Ward – is worried “by right” zoning and ADUs will have a disastrous effect on property rights. It’s not about race, it’s about not taking away the rights of the current homeowners.
  • Bridget Ismert via a proxy – wants to know where the Kansas flag currently is.
  • Nikki McCray – wants to know what builder wants to build attainable housing in PV. She hasn’t heard of any that want to do this. The Mayor addressed this question by saying that if any builders do approach the city, it would be widely disseminated to residents. Just as any proposals that come out of the PC will be disseminated as well.
  • Michael Levin – thinks local government is starting to look too much like national government. Says we still haven’t defined “attainability”. Council has lost his trust.
  • Lupe Sabates – shared her family’s history as Cuban Americans and longtime PV residents. “There is no better place than Prairie Village.”

While most of the folks in the room didn’t personally speak, there was much clapping after each of the speakers.

And then everyone, but about 5 people, left.

For those interested, here is an example of an email received recently from a Ward 3 resident in support of the housing discussion at Planning Commission who hasn’t spoke in person at Council meetings:

Please don’t let a small number of vocal residents shut down the conversation about potential changes to Prairie Village zoning regulations. I am a 70-year old widow who rents an apartment in Prairie Village just blocks from my sister’s single-family house. I would greatly appreciate hearing about zoning changes that could increase housing options within the city. Please don’t let the “Stop” movement stop the discussion. 

Ward 3 resident

Committee Reports

First Suburbs Coalition

I notified Council of the upcoming January 20th meeting, and I encouraged them all to Zoom in to the meeting.

Arts Council

I encouraged everyone to check out the latest Arts Council exhibit from artists Susan Richards and Gloria Gale.

Mark your calendars for our 6 exhibits and 6 artist receptions beginning in January and every other month thereafter:

PVAC-2023-Calendar-UPDATED-11-12-2022

Diversity Committee

Councilmember Cole Robinson shared that the Diversity Committee co-sponsored the Stand Up for Black Lives Matters event at Village Church this past weekend: I Have a Dream (Home) Action & Celebration Event Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. It was a heartwarming event led by Dr. George Williams with wonderful artists and over 400 in-person attendees. (I encourage everyone to watch the recording at the link above.)

The Diversity Committee Town Hall will be coming up on February 25th at 2:00 at Meadowbrook Clubhouse and featuring committee members as a panel talking about their experiences living in Prairie Village.

The committee will also be sitting down with UCS soon to put together a more formal structure around the work and the goals of the committee.

Councilmember Courtney McFadden thanked Councilmember Inga Selders for spearheading and growing the Diversity Committee over the last two years to what it is today and for pulling together the amazing committee members.

Police Pension

Cole also shared the EOY report for the police pension which finished down 15.8%. Our fund didn’t do the worst out of the many funds out there (some were down 18-20%), but it is way down. However, we have seen some appreciation in equities this month, and our financial advisor is still recommending no changes.

Teen Council

Teen Council had their first sit down with the mayor this evening, and they had lots of questions for him. They have also started work on their presentations that we’ll get to hear in late April.

JoCo Academy

JoCo Academy applications are open now. I loved this program, and I highly recommend it.

Mayor’s report
  • Mayor reported on his recent activities including meeting with our various NE JoCo legislators in Topeka.
  • County Commissioner Chair Ed Eilert was recognized for his service and retirement by both the County and MARC.

Staff Reports

Administration

Wes Jordan, City Administrator, updated Council on the community feedback survey for the ad hoc community center committee. Look for more information and a postcard in your mailbox around April. Every PV resident will be able to respond to the survey through a unique link.

Police Department

Chief Roberson gave Council the following report on the forfeiture trust fund:

Forfeiture trust fund report

What is an asset forfeiture? This is a civil process, as opposed to a criminal process, and is intended to keep a criminal from benefiting from illegal activity. An example would be: if a drug dealer is making a sale of heroin and uses a vehicle to make that sale, the PD would take possession of that vehicle as an asset forfeiture. The forfeiture is reviewed by judges and will be reviewed to determine if that asset was used in the execution of the crime. If it is determined that the asset was used, the proceeds will be divided up between all of the agencies that were party to the arrest.

How often does PVPD use this process and what for and where does the money go? In 2022, we had one asset forfeiture in conjunction with 3 other PDs. In 2021, there were zero, and in 2020, there were two. There is currently $9,982 in the account, and the funds will be used for one-time things like undercover purchases, upper level management classes for staff, and previous assets covered the cost of K-9 Blitz last year.

How is it regulated and controlled? There is a statute that requires all findings be reported to the FBI and reports all assets forfeited. A report is also filed for the mayor and the council.

Councilperson Inga Selders asked if a person’s asset is confiscated, but they’re found not guilty, how do they go about getting that property back. Chief clarified that it depends on the specific forfeiture and any other reasons that person may have for not getting their property returned. That person can contact the police department for specific information.

Property Tax Rebate Program

City Clerk Adam Geffert reported on the 2023 Property Tax Rebate program so far:

  • Opened Monday last week, and there were quite a few people in line first thing in the morning.
  • 43 applications received last week; already approved 38
  • Average rebate is $550
  • Rebated over $20,000 total so far, and have about $5,000 left.
  • The first round of checks will go out before the end of the month.
  • In 2022, only 28 were approved. 17 of those reapplied this year and have been approved.
  • 12 additional people applied this year that wouldn’t have qualified last year due to the changes to the program approved by Council for 2023.

The program is doing really well, and it was great to see such a large crowd.

Consolidated Fire District #2 report

An emergency came up and Chief Chick couldn’t join us this night, but will return at a later date.

Consider change order #2 for inclusion of drainage repair program improvements into the 2022 residential street program

Council approved this unanimously as holding this work until this time saved the city over $50,000.

Consider approval of Ordinance 2480, an ordinance regarding nondomiciled contractor licenses amending [various sections] of the Municipal Code

Deputy City Administrator Nickie Lee – PV went live with OpenGov online licensing platform in January, and it has been going well. It has brought about process reviews and improvements. Anyone who does work in the City has to have a license with the City (and the County), and they have to renew it once a year. Going forward Staff would like to change to a rolling renewal one year from the original license issuance and it can be done easily and automatically online. This change does require changes to about 5 places in the municipal code, and that is what we reviewed tonight.

The committee approved this unanimously, and it will be on a future full Council agenda.

Consider 2023 recreation fee schedule

Assistant City Administrator Meghan Buum – Most non-pool fee schedule increases were due to outside cost increases. Pool fees were last increased in 2016 when we went to the individual pass system (away from the Family pass). We were due for an increase in 2021 but during the pandemic we opted to hold off because were were still meeting our 60% cost recovery goal.

However, in 2022, outside costs went way up and salaries were increased to recruit staff, and we were only able to recover 50% of our costs. In 2023, staff has recommended a fee increase to cover the increased outside costs, salaries, and to aim to get us back up to 60% cost recovery. Staff has also recommended moving the youth age from 2 to 3 to require a pass, which will give young families one more year before they need to buy a pass.

The fee schedule now shows a $60 individual pool pass cost.

The committee approved this unanimously, and it will be on a future full Council agenda.

Discussion on adding members of the Governing Body to the City’s health, dental and vision insurance plans with the same cost sharing as if they were full-time City employees

Councilmember Cole Robinson presented this topic that he and Councilmember Chad Herring brought before the committee. Mr. Robinson believes that councilmembers give a lot to the city they serve in time and effort. While compensation for councilmembers has been discussed at length in the past and rejected, health benefits are a different topic and should be something to discuss and something that could expand our pool of qualified and available candidates to serve our city in the future.

Council President Ron Nelson pointed out that we are into our 2023 fiscal year, and we will begin our 2024 budget year planning in a few months. Councilmember McFadden asked if that means this would be for discussion for 2024, and Ron deferred to Cole and the discussion of Council.

Councilmember McFadden listed the volunteer benefits of being a councilmember:

  • Annual laminated check for $1 that we can not cash or deposit
  • stipend for communications (this is new to me)
  • a pool pass (my daughter has worked at the pool the last two seasons, so we don’t need this)
  • iPad (I returned mine, because I didn’t find it useful)
  • reimbursed for charges (presumably for committee expenses tied to committee budgets)

… and said that being a volunteer on City Council is expensive, so why not talk about full compensation like every other city in Johnson County?

Cole stated that he is looking at the smaller impact of healthcare, even if in 2023, and a possible first step toward compensation which is a bigger topic and would take some time to develop if it ever moved forward.

Councilmember Terrence Gallagher recommended that the Finance Committee should approach this as part of the 2024 budget process and in line with every other City expense and city employee benefit package.

Mayor pointed out that this is a direct conflict of interest for the City Council to be voting on its own compensation. In PV we are also unique in that we have no other body to review this option for us. It may be a good thing to do for the City’s future, but we have to acknowledge that it is a direct conflict of interest. As such, if it were to be passed, it should not take effect until after the next election when members have stood up amongst their constituents and been elected or re-elected.

The mayor does think that this is a worthy and important discussion. We need to incentivize community members, who may not financially otherwise be able, to take their personal time and run and serve for Council . In short, he thinks benefits and pay should be discussed in tandem because there are so many processes that go hand-in-hand. Mayor Mikkelson unequivocally stated that he will not accept pay while he is mayor no matter what.

Councilmember Inga Selders asked how neighboring municipalities handle compensation and benefits, and she asked staff to bring back to Council.

Councilmember Ian Graves concurred with Councilmember McFadden, and also commented on the current state of healthcare and the possible example where a councilmember could be injured and be destroyed financially and no longer be able to serve. This wouldn’t apply to every councilmember, but would contribute to the diversity of candidates to run for council in the future. He wholly supports this conversation and having it go through the Finance Committee, but should city staff vet it all first?

A motion was made and seconded to have staff research neighboring JoCo municipal compensation and benefits and bring it to a future council committee of the whole as well as a benefits cost analysis only option for Council.

Councilmember Terrence Gallagher asked that this be pushed to a later date, because it shouldn’t be a priority today.

Councilmember Chad Herring iterated that he wouldn’t have co-sponsored this agenda item if he didn’t think it was important for the health and wellbeing of our City and our Council. If there is even one member of Council who would be detrimentally affected and removed from service to council if there were to get sick without insurance, then we should discuss it. He concurs with the mayor’s points about conflict of interest. Service is an honor, but the work is not without cost, and he worries about what could happen to a councilmember if they don’t have access to healthcare.

Councilmember Lauren Wolf pointed out that precisely because were are coming up on budget season we should start the discussion now.

I agree with much of what was said by my fellow councilmembers and had nothing new to add to this conversation at this time. I look forward to seeing what the City brings back in their research.

The motion passed with one nay.

Agenda Packet for your reference

Closing

It was a busy week, and I’m behind in getting this out. My apologies.

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to share this newsletter/post with your PV neighbors!

Please try to stay well and have a great week!

🙂

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