October 07, 2019 Commission Meeting Minutes
GOODLAND CITY COMMISSION
October 7, 2019 5:00 P.M.
Mayor Brian Linin called the meeting to order with Vice-Mayor Jay Dee Brumbaugh, Commissioner Annette Fairbanks, Commissioner John Garcia, and Commissioner Jacque Schields responding to roll call.
Also present were Joni Showalter-Police Chief, Suzanne McClure – Economic Development Director, Joshua Jordan – IT Director, Brian James – Fire Chief, Mary Volk – City Clerk, and Andrew Finzen – City Manager.
Mayor Linin led Pledge of Allegiance
PRESENTATIONS AND PROCLAMATIONS
- Police Department Life Saving Award: Trevor Willemsen and Erik Roeder – Joni presented Officer Roeder and Assistant Chief Willemsen with a Life Saving Award recognizing them for their critical role in applying first aid to Joseph Bradley, stabbing victim on August 24 in Goodland. Joseph presented certificates to Officer Roeder and Assistant Chief Willemsen, thanking them for their service. Mayor Linin stated, we appreciate all you do to protect the City and the example you set with your service. Joni stated, we appreciate the Commission’s time and ask that you not take advantage of our department as protecting the community requires the support of the Commission.
- Public Power Week Proclamations: October 6-12 – Mayor Linin proclaimed week of October 6th through 12th as public power week in the City of Goodland.
- 09/16/19 Commission Meeting Minutes
- 09/30/19 Joint Commission Meeting Minutes
- Appropriation Ordinances, 2019-19, 2019-19A, 2019-P19 and 2019-P19A
ON A MOTION by Commissioner Garcia to approve Consent Agenda seconded by Commissioner Fairbanks. MOTION carried on a VOTE of 5-0.
- CVB/Economic Development/Chamber of Commerce: Ron Harding – Ron Harding, citizen stated, thank you for inviting me to share my experiences as previous director over these entities. I began during a crisis period, the railroad shut down and Goodland lost eighty families. Then Great Western Sugar closed and Goodland lost seventy-five full time and fifty part time jobs. It was a big loss to the community. Irrigation development then came to an end, requiring three business to relocate out of town. I could drive south to north down the street finding from one to three houses for sale in each block. I see the same trend today and I am very concerned with the sunflower industry. The trucking industry is being stolen by our neighbor’s and good paying jobs are slipping away. Goodland was in line for Flying J facility now located in Limon, but it slipped away. I see on Main Street things have changed and we did not change with it. We had the Chamber of Commerce and put together a development group to start economic development and CVB with our location to interstate. The next initiative we pursued was to change government from eight member council and elected mayor to five commission – manager government for efficiency. The community has benefited from Commission work. Both the City and County came together and invested in NSI, where assets and equipment added to our tax system, helping all taxing entities. This move assisted in paying off the addition to Max Jones Field House. It takes a lot of heartache and hard work. I recommend the City and County consider restructuring organization. You need all entities in central location under one roof. That is the way it is done in many other communities. Goodland needs to return to that organization; we were recognized by the State as a prime organization. You can add other organizations to structure in future. Need to set up organization as a private sector and ensure City and County buy in to plan. Commission thanked Ron for sharing thoughts. Mayor Linin stated, for a long time I have felt the organizations need to work closely because separately we lose efficiency. For our size of community, costs are eaten up in overhead when costs can be shared. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, I feel the same, their main focus is same even though each have their own function and budgets. We have tried to put back under one roof but it takes cooperation. The coordinators need to share ideas for betterment of Sherman County. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, I am in favor of having them operate under one roof, I know other communities are set up that way and operate very efficiently. Every City and County in community should have a seat at the table for the organization so that everyone has input and collaboration of how money should be used. It is the same thing as fire to ensure efficiency; I appreciate having conversations with County and the Commissions working together. Commissioner Garcia stated, I value comments presented this evening. Time has come in which our community is shrinking with tax burdens on everyone. My perspective is progress in a positive manner to move Goodland forward efficiently for future generations. Studies have shown that our population will continue to shrink, but it surprises me Thomas County loses more population than Sherman County. We need to become more proactive in our thinking for the best interest of Goodland. Decisions we make will either help generations that follow or allow them to continue to operate in a definition of insanity, not doing anything to improve. Commissioner Schields stated, I agree with Commission, we have to do what we can to develop Goodland to look to the future.
- Fire Department Merger – Andrew stated, this is an opportunity for the City Commission to have a discussion on items that will be discussed at the joint meeting. Brian stated, I answered questions presented before met with County Commissioner Topliff and Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh. My recommendations are food for thought. Pertaining to the budget process, the Fire Board will complete it and have the City and County Commission’s review information. County Commissioner Topliff stated, rather than City paying a percent I recommend you pay County a mill based contribution so it matches what they do today. I see no reason why merger cannot take place, combine the assets and ensure representation from both City and County on Fire Board. By completing the merger, City Fire will merge into Fire District 1. ISO ratings require the City designate certain equipment and manpower for the City. The merger may not show a savings but will be more efficient operation. There are sticking points but we have to overcome hurdles. The contract requires language in event the operations separate in future. This morning Andrew and I discussed the building and maybe the City does not want to maintain the building but use as part of City share but we need to iron out details in event of a separation. For equipment, we believe it would be based on value assigned to asset. In reference to employee tenure, that will all transfer to County, along with benefits. Brian stated, Commissioner Garcia is concerned about fair representation on board. Currently the City has three representatives on the Board that reside inside City limits. If City feels need more representation, the board can be increased to nine, but I would only recommend increasing to seven. We just want to make sure fair representation on board. If there are too many on board you do not get a lot accomplished. Recommend during meetings, a representative from both the City and County be present to ensure operating efficiently. County Commissioner Topliff stated, we need a minimum of five on board. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, we also agreed to move Building Inspection duties and budget to Code Enforcement Officer to ensure if something changes with future Commissions that we protect that department. We also discussed that it may be better to fund department with a fire tax rather than rely on the City and County budgets to protect from future commissions. Mayor Linin asked, if we do a separate tax, who approves the tax. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, we are uncertain of details. Commissioner Garcia stated, this will not create another taxing entity. Brian stated, outside City they have a separate fire that is mill based depending on amount needed to operate. Commissioner Garcia stated, we need to create a Charter Ordinance to ensure future funding for department. Mayor Linin asked, does our fire budget include code enforcement? Brian stated, no, except for the portion of my salary that is for Building Inspection. Mayor Linin stated, I do not see any problems other than ironing out details. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, our intent is to keep everything similar to current operations because that works for Brian. Andrew stated, it needs to be clear on role of Building Inspector as that means your current Code Enforcement Officer will have to be trained and the City will be down half an employee. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh asked, could that be absorbed with an expectation that can be obtained? Brian stated, Dakota can do it but it will require training and he may not be able to do everything Commission asks. County Commissioner Topliff stated, the Fire Board would probably approve Brian being an advisor and he will need to enforce fire codes in City. Brian stated, I informed Dakota that I would help him transition as I do not want to leave him in position I was when I started. Mayor Linin stated, I feel that is important as Brian understands what is required and how it pertains to fire codes. Commissioner Garcia stated, I feel it is a workable situation with his knowledge in the area. Andrew stated, I want to ensure Commission understands you do not absorb two employees into one and maintain same output. By combining positions you will lose some patrolling on nuisances among other things. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, that is correct and I feel we need to discuss as the City Commission has made big strides, concentrating on cleanup and fix up. Andrew stated, on fire side it is getting both commission’s to determine the best means of operation, it will have to be modified from time to time. Just need to work out the details. Mayor Linin stated, the blended tax from both the City and County with stated number of mills will build COLA in budget with increased valuations. This will also help take care of what they have. Andrew stated, that is similar to the Library ordinance and the entities are just a pass through. Mayor Linin stated, we do not want it to be like the library where they can increase mill and we have no say about it. County Commissioner Topliff stated, we can also do same thing as do in county with fire tax based on value of property. We also talked about the County owning the building and if operations separate in future, the building goes back to the City. We just all need to get along. Andrew stated, I discussed with County Commissioner Topliff on whether the City wanted to own a building that houses no City services. We could consider it part of our contribution but have no interest in owning. Just need to determine what both Commission’s feel about building. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, the buildings at airport need to stay City property because a fire engine was purchased with FAA grant money. The County is fine with paying utilities for fire buildings. Andrew stated, as owner of airport we have to own all airport property, then we lease County property. County Commissioner Topliff stated, I feel the same with the training facility because if airport boundaries change it would create problems if the property is owned by the County. Brian stated, the other building in question is old fire house that should also remain City property. Task Force 7 uses all but one bay to build training props. Andrew stated, I feel these are only initial points, but there will be more as we move forward. Ron Vignery, citizen asked, with the merger, if I am a City resident who would I go to for problems with fire response? Some public perception will be that I am living in City paying fire tax for county residents to have service. I am not against what you are trying to do, I think there is a struggle ahead of you in eyes of public who may not understand. You guys are doing a good job addressing this but do not forget the tax payer questions. Mayor Linin stated, that is a good point but the answer is no different than services funded today. People tend to jump to conclusions when they do not know details. Ron stated, you need to think about it as Sherman County not two separate taxing entities. Mayor Linin stated, we do need to think about public perception. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, the communication should reflect we are already operating this way, just finalizing the paperwork. Relaying communication is important. Tamara Hayes citizen stated, most of the public have never had a business class and do not understand language, need to make them understand it in their terms. County Commissioner Topliff stated, I guarantee you taxes will not go up as result of merger. Ron stated, but the public will want to know, will services go down? Brian stated, many do not understand that we are virtually consolidated, only thing separating us are the budgets and Commissions. Consolidation will not be a cost saving issue. We can buy equipment together down the road, but ultimately if you cut budgets you will cut services. We want to merge for efficiency. Cost of equipment is increasing and will continue, but we can buy equipment together. Our department is 100% tax based and our goal is to keep budget at same level but cannot guarantee down the road that it will not increase. We want more efficient operations for City and County.
- Police Department/Sheriff’s Office – Andrew stated, this item was on last agenda for joint meeting, but due to time constraints did not allow discussion. What goals does the City Commission want to address with this issue? Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, it goes along with same philosophy as other items. We need to look at pros and cons to determine what is best and if it warrants making any further decisions. County Commissioner Topliff stated, I think with joint law enforcement in county, you need to have a citizen board that is subject to input as to what goes on. We need to come up with framework first. County is open to a discussion. Mayor Linin stated, we have to look at it to make sure we do what is best for community. We need to see whether there is a benefit or not. Andrew asked, is the City and County thinking that there is ac cost savings by combining? County Commissioner Topliff stated, you would think there would be. Andrew stated, I would like the City to carve out what they are trying to accomplish, is there a financial savings, if not will we proceed. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, we not only need to look at financial savings but look at services and pros and cons of both. You have to have a reason and pros must outweigh reasons for not doing it. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, the questions are no different than questions we had for Fire and CVB/ED/Chamber of Commerce; we need to look at efficiency of services. Charles Moser stressed we cannot go into this looking for a savings. Mayor Linin stated, I agree, I do not feel there will be a lot of savings but will be some synergies in a combined force that will prove to be more efficient. There is a good amount of work that needs to be done by law enforcement to continue to provide a safe community for our citizens. Joni stated, there is a lot of research available from other agencies that have tried consolidation but were unsuccessful. Everyone brings up Riley County who for years the sheriff office was an elected position with limited personnel. Patrol which is my job, is different and the departments are separate for a reason. We do have cross overs but they are two distinct departments for a reason. Commissioner Garcia stated, my top priority is to ensure I am looking out for the best interest of our officers and their capacities. We need to open up preliminary discussion to look at frame work but never sacrifice any of our officers. Jason Erhart, Police Officer stated, I know you say your intention is not to hurt the officers but it does affect your employee’s. I have employees come to me daily worrying about their job. You cannot protect your employees from the other agency and the fact they will not be hired by the other agency. The two departments provide checks and balances. I value your opinions and what you do, but this agenda item keeps getting brought up and it affects your employees more than you think. I understand you need to talk about it but we need to talk about it and move forward. No disrespect to the Commission or Sheriff’s Office but there is only so much we can do. I just want you to realize what you are doing to staff. There is a reason only one county in Kansas is consolidated. I am worried about staff and personnel with the rumors. Tamara Hayes stated, moral is taking a beating you hear and see it every day. We understand what you are doing but you need do research and move ahead. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, this is the first time item has been on agenda for discussion. I do not have enough information to make a decision. Looking ahead the last thing that should be done is changing a job. We need all hands on deck to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Commissioner Garcia asked Sheriff Burton Pianalto for comment. Burton stated, we have checks and balances with two agencies. Riley County removed their sheriff which I feel is wrong; you should never give up your elected official. It should not be looked at for monetary savings. We work for the public and problems between the two departments have existed for last twelve years. We need to get along. Frankie Hayes, Police Corporal stated, you keep referring to the Fire Department but you cannot compare this to Fire merger. Fire Department utilizes same people and have most of the details ironed out. This consolidation affects everyone, Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and citizens. This is not just a merger and will take some research. There will be issues that come up. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, with fire we are 95 % there, but 0% with this item. Trevor Willemsen, Assistant Police Chief stated, if it is money Chief runs a budget half the size of other agencies; if it is service and efficiency you had an individual in the audience tonight that experienced our efficiency. We are on call 24/7. If you want improvement please enlighten us we will improve. We adjust to criticism. Andrew stated, if there are items you want us to research you need to let us know. It is obvious more education is needed on this issue. You need to communicate information to us.
- City Manager – 1. We had a good turnout for the Fly Kansas Tour. There were issues with the weather and time zones and disappointed with turnout of planes, but it was a good event. We put in for event next year. 2. I would like to commend staff for work on Flatlander Fall Festival. I know the City makes a monetary donation but all departments are impacted in the planning, setting up and tearing down of event. Contractor is pouring the curb and gutter on 25th Street. 4. Dispatch remodel is progressing again. Mayor Linin asked, is there a completion date set? Andrew stated, we do not have one but their intent is to get it completed. 5.We are lighting up the VanGogh pink for breast cancer awareness this month. 6. The League Annual Conference is this weekend in Overland Park if a Commissioner is interested in attending. 7.
The City/County Joint Commission meeting is scheduled for October 8th at 7:30 a.m. Wolak Building. 8. We are closing October 11th at 1:00 p.m. in support of homecoming festivities. 9. We are hosting Customer Appreciation Oct 15th from 9:00 to 2:00 and are requesting to have road in front closed. We are having equipment out there and have students from West School to look at equipment and learn about City services.
- IT Director – Joshua stated, I have been busy making sure security stays up to date, watching over dispatch and working to ensure our services are up to best IT practices possible.
Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh – 1. No Report
Commissioner Fairbanks – 1. No Report
Commissioner Garcia – 1. I would like to thank the Police Department for participating in the cook off for Flatlander Festival. We fed about 900 people on Sunday. There was a lot of community support for the event. Please check the breakers in the pavilion as we were having trouble with them tripping.
Commissioner Schields – 1. The Fly Kansas Tour was fun even though there were less planes than expected. We had good community attendance and it was fun to see children. 2. Appreciate everyone that worked on Flatlander Festival, it takes everyone for it to be successful.
- Mayor – No Report
ADJOURNMENT WAS HAD ON A MOTION Commissioner Garcia seconded by Commissioner Fairbanks. Motion carried by unanimous VOTE, meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m. Next joint meeting is scheduled for October 8, 2019 at 7:30 a.m. at Wolak Building. Next regular meeting is scheduled for October 21, 2019.
ATTEST: Brian Linin, Mayor
Mary P. Volk, City Clerk