July 20, 2020 Commission Minutes

July 20, 2020 Commission Minutes

July 20, 2020 Commission Minutes

website_admin Minutes

July 20, 2020                                                                                                                          5:00 P.M.

Mayor John Garcia called the meeting to order with Vice-Mayor Aaron Thompson, Commissioner Jay Dee Brumbaugh and Commissioner Gary Farris responding to roll call.  Commissioner J. J. Howard was reported absent.

Also present were Rich Simon – Director of Public Works, Dustin Bedore – Director of Electric Utilities, LeAnn Taylor – Municipal Court Judge/Clerk, Sami Windle – Museum Director, Joshua Jordan – IT Director, Kenton Keith – Street Superintendent, Neal Thornburg – Water/Sewer Superintendent, Danny Krayca – Parks Superintendent, Brian James – Fire Chief, Mary Volk – City Clerk and Andrew Finzen – City Manager.  

Mayor Garcia led Pledge of Allegiance


  1. Rezoning of 1612 Colorado Ave. – Mayor Garcia opened the public hearing at 5:01 p.m.  Lisa Rodriguez stated, we own property and want to build shop on the lot for our trucking business.  Residential zoning will not allow the size of building we need so requesting to rezone property to commercial.  This is where we service trucks for our truck business. Mayor Garcia stated, I understand most properties in area are commercial.  Brian stated, the property to south is C-1 and other properties are R-1.  A commercial zone allows building to size of lot, leaving area required on edge of property.  With residential zoning the building cannot be bigger than 30’ x 40’, which is too small.  Mayor Garcia asked, letters were sent to neighbors?  Brian stated, yes as required by code to all owners within 300 feet.  If rezoning is approved tonight, neighbors have fourteen days to file appeal on decision which would then require unanimous vote.  Mayor Garcia closed hearing at 5:04 p.m. 



  1. 07/06/20 Commission Meeting Minutes
  2. Appropriation Ordinances: 2020-14, 2020-14A, and 2020-P14

ON A MOTION by Vice-Mayor Thompson to approve Consent Agenda seconded by Commissioner Brumbaugh.  MOTION carried on a VOTE of 4-0.  


  1. Ordinance 1731: Rezoning of 1612 Colorado Ave. – Andrew stated, this ordinance rezones property at 1621 Colorado from R-1 to C-1 and authorizes change is city zoning map.  ON A MOTION by Vice-Mayor Thompson to approve Ordinance 1731: Rezoning of 1612 Colorado Ave. seconded by Commissioner Farris.  MOTION carried on a VOTE of 4-0. 


  1. FY 2021 Budget – Andrew stated, based on discussion last meeting, the Commission requested to decrease estimated increase for insurance to 15% from 20%, and apply difference toward $1.00 increase in employee wages.  The Commission has been provided additional information requested since last meeting.  We did not reprint budget pages at this time as a number of pages were changed and before we print information we want direction from Commission.  I would like to have budget approved at August 3rd meeting but that would require approval of information tonight for publication Thursday’s paper.  Mayor Garcia stated, I appreciate the dialogue with employees but feel it is unfair to employees if we make decisions tonight without employee’s reviewing new information.  We can allow the employees a few days to review information, then hold a special meeting.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, I would like to review and think about new information from the analysis on medical plan contribution options.  Mayor Garcia stated, I am willing to let employees review.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, if we budget 15% it should allow room to cover insurance and the insurance discussion can happen at renewal.  We are focusing on insurance and do not have any information to approve a plan at this time.  Commissioner Farris stated, we just need to budget enough to cover the insurance as a whole.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, I have reviewed the budget as a whole and I do not have a problem with anything in budget.  I want the $1.00 employee raise then we can apply that toward starting wages.  I like to estimate 15% increase in insurance then discuss the insurance plan when we renew this fall.  Mayor Garcia asked, what do you mean with 15% increase?  Andrew stated, I believe Vice-Mayor Thompson is asking if we budget a 15% increase for insurance the employee contribution can be discussed at renewal of insurance plan.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, yes that is correct.  Mayor Garcia asked, what is the total dollar amount you are looking at for insurance?  What is the difference in the number of family plans between 2020 and 2021? 

Commissioner Howard reported to meeting.

Andrew stated, that is to budget vacancies; we budget a family plan for any vacancy to ensure plans are budgeted.  Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, we do not need to discuss plan now but if there is a significant difference there would be an excess amount we may not use, can we allocate that money elsewhere.  Mary stated, if you budget the insurance in the Employee Benefits fund, budget authority is subject to that fund for benefits and cannot be spent from another fund.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, I just do not want to lock it up if we could use the money somewhere else for items we are unable to budget.  Mayor Garcia asked, with several positions going away, we have fifty employees and hiring a police officer and a park and electric employee.  Andrew stated, we are not adding new positions, we are seeking employees to fill current vacancies in the budget.  We can only amend the budget with unanticipated revenues.  Mary stated, general fund has many departments within general fund where you can use excess budget as long it is within the departments in the general fund, but you cannot cross funds for excess budget authority.  Brian stated, in the employee benefits fund the excess can go toward paying claims for insurance to help build balance in self-insurance fund.  Vice-Mayor Thompson asked, what is our goal for this fund?  Andrew stated, $500,000.  It is used to pay first $30,000 in claims for each member.  Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, can it be used for an HSA down the road for employees to meet employee contributions?  Andrew stated, as long as funds go toward employee benefits.  Mayor Garcia stated, I would like employees to listen to Robert (Bob) Langhofer discuss additional options.  Bob stated, I represent USI Insurance Services as an employee benefit consultant.  We provide stability of insurance programs to ensure they are sustainable.  Some agencies I work with are Cities of McPherson and Manhattan, Winfield and Topeka School Districts and NW Kansas Technical College.  We can compare plans with costs to balance program and make it affordable.  The discussion is to achieve a balance with your existing premium and plan.  When I work with organizations, I look at the cost of insurance plan overall, not just the deductible and co-insurance that comes out of employee pocket but how benefits are communicated.  In reality, with cost of health care, it is cost prohibitive to have low deductible for employees.  We look at what employers are doing across the nation.    Mayor Garcia shared costs for the City plan with me to look at a benchmark.  I have submitted a plan with several options, but these are not the only options available.  There are not many employers that can afford to continue to provide 100% coverage for all plans.  With ACA, we look at married employees where the spouse has a plan.  We ask the spouse if coverage is available to go on other plan or pay additional toward City plan.  If you have more than fifty employees’, you are mandated to offer coverage.  Four strategies I am presenting is 1.) Employee pay 10% of cost pretax and City pay 90%; 2.)  Employee pay 20% of cost pretax and City pay 80%; 3.)  City pay 100% of single plan but for remaining plans, employee pays 20% with employer paying 80%; 4.) City pay 100% of single plan and employee pays difference on remaining plans.  Under federal law Section 125 Cafeteria Plan, employers can deduct cost before tax for employee.  At NW Kansas Technical College, we introduced four plans the college funds at a certain level.  Your current deductible is $500, but if offer plans with higher deductible premium costs decrease.  Many organizations are seeing significant reduction in revenue.  If we give employees options on deductible, they can decide what works for their family.  NW Kansas Technical College offered a high deductible plan with lower cost.  The individual can put money in HSA to use down the road.  Concept to share in cost is appropriate and give employees several options to choose from so each employee can make decision based on what works with their family.  By doing this you can provide more stability for City while give employees more choices.  Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, on a plan for City can we contribute money toward employee’s HSA as a possibility?  Bob stated, yes we have many employers that do that.  An example is allocating set amount toward plan and any excess can contribute to HSA.  I like HSA versus a flexible spending account as it provides more flexibility for families.  With a flexible spending account employees have to elect amount of money contribute to plan and no chance to change election unless change family status.  Vice-Mayor Thompson asked, for the annual premium, is that what it would be if City paid 100%?  Bob stated, this premium is based on City’s current plan.  Vice-Mayor Thompson asked, where are your quotes from?  Bob stated, I took City’s current BCBS premium and applied different strategies toward paying the plan.  We have not engaged negotiations with any carriers, these are just options for City to consider.  Andrew asked, when looking at a $2,000 or $2,500 deductible, what are maximum out of pocket costs to employee.  Bob stated, BCBS standard is three different coinsurance designs up to a maximum.  After the deductible is met, there are the coinsurance plans of 20/80, 40/60 and 50/50.  The most common is $1,000 or $2,000 coinsurance on top of deductible.  If plan is $2,000 deductible with 20/80 coinsurance maximum of $1,000, employees out of pocket is $3,000.  Under ACA all employee costs will apply toward out of pocket maximum which is standard at $6,250 per person or $13,000 per family.  Commissioner Howard stated, I feel it is hard to make an employee pay something out of their pocket when it is a reduction in their wage.  If you give them a raise to compensate for their 15% employee contribution, you are costing City more money with additional taxes on increased wages.  What happens if we find a better plan but the employees are employed elsewhere?  If my employer asked me to start paying now I would not stay at the employment.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, there is a lot of in depth conversation about something we cannot do anything about until it is time for renewal.  Commissioner Howard stated, I agree.  Mayor Garcia stated, renewal is March 1.  Commissioner Howard stated, I understand but guarantee employees will go somewhere else.  We are Goodland, quit comparing us to Colby.  Let’s be Goodland and get more tax revenue coming in so we can afford to do things.  Our base insurance costs are $750,000 why are we paying the stop loss?  That is what makes this a bad discussion, we do not know where we will be at for renewal.  If we can get same insurance somewhere else with cheaper premiums why change what we are doing.  Get different quotes so we know where we are at.  I do not want to be the one working on streets and power lines.  You cannot cut wages and have them start paying 15%.  You want to give the $1.00 raise to cover employees share of plan.  Mayor Garcia stated, there are raises planned to compensate for employee contribution.  Commissioner Howard stated, the raise is costing the City more than paying insurance.  Mayor Garcia stated, under current system it is not working.  Commissioner Howard stated, you are still working off old numbers.  You do not know what the new plan will be.  This is current plan, what will another company bid for insurance?  We are going to make employees pay and they are already looking elsewhere for employment.  We need to work to find something cheaper.  Mayor Garcia stated, I agree we can have Andrew get new numbers to look at.  Commissioner Howard stated, to keep good employees you have to keep them happy.  Chris Douglas employee stated, for a single plan at the school the premium is $567, the City’s is $581 and the college is $670.  It sounds like there are other options. The County is fully self-funded and pays 100% for all plans.  Their single plan is $764.  In terms of compensation and to Commissioner Howards point, it is more expensive for the City.  The other thing to mention is the City signed a long term energy contract and pay a monthly adder for a piece of paper.  We have to take the hit too.  We are competitive and do not feel there is going to be a magic ticket.  When you are done on commission, we are still the ones that will be here dealing with consequence.  Andrew stated, no health insurance company will provide quotes until late November or December for renewal.  They look at your claims, right now we are too far out.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, we need to come up with a number in the budget to make sure we are able to cover plan have.  If we do not do the 20% for sixteen months we will be sitting here next year with same discussion because we will not know what renewal is.  Mayor Garcia asked, we cannot get bids until November?  Andrew stated, not numbers I feel confident using.  At this point if you get a good offer you better watch with year two because no company is out to lose money.  We do not know what our claims are and cannot get numbers in July or August for renewal without your claim history.  They will cut that date as close to renewal as possible. The process is inherently rushed because that is what insurance companies do.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, we changed the 20% to 15% on insurance and gave $1.00 raise which should cover everything.  We will never know until we get renewal.  The employees get a wage increase which helps starting wage.  With those changes and the rest of the budget remaining same, we have a budget.  If no dissent, I feel budget is good.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, we have to cover premium have because those are our numbers.  We can discuss options later but we do not have luxury of knowing what costs will be.  What happens if increase comes in at 29% so we miss it by double?  Andrew stated, that is a policy decision as to where you fund the difference.  In speaking with other municipalities, this year’s renewals are coming in favorable but all entities will be different.  We are hearing with COVID; utilization is down so favorable renewals.  Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, if we budget the $1.00 raise and our renewal comes in higher so we choose alternate options, are we locked into $1.00 raise or can we make changes?  Andrew stated, you get into the problem that wages are in a separate fund than the benefits and it gets tricky.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, if we do that we take back part of the wage increase.  Mayor Garcia stated, when you take the oath of a Commissioner you become gate keeper of municipality.  The erosion does not come from outside it comes from inside.  As a Commissioner you have right to voice opinion but at the end of the day you have to know that every decision is consequential.  I have a concern with what is going on with Main Street and dilapidation of structures in community.  All our employees work hard; our responsibility is to take care of employees in a manner that benefits the tax payers.  I try to be conscientious of employees and tax payers.  Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, do you see any other option?  We are not approving any plan at this time.  Can we do anything different?  Mayor Garcia stated, it is frustrating.  It seems we need to get away from grandfather plan.  Commissioner Howard stated, only if comparing apples to apples on bids.  Mayor Garcia stated, there will be some change but can we get numbers.  Andrew asked, what other numbers would you like?  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated I want choices to select from, the numbers presented were using our current premium and alternative options and costs.  Andrew stated, other numbers would be a bid which we cannot get until November.  Last year at renewal we bid the grandfather plan, an HSA and a higher deductible plan.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, I want bids outside our consultant.  Chris stated, what drives our cost are our claims.  Our claims are our claims.  I gave you what other premiums are but remember that premium is for their claims.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, our claims should be a part of our premium.  Chris stated, if we have a large claims history our cost will be higher.  I struggle with the idea someone will give you a policy with magical numbers.  Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, where does that put us with the $1.00 raise and budgeting 15% increase?  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, the difference from 20% to 15% we put that toward the $1.00 raise.  Andrew stated, that is with the 4% employee contribution.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, those are details to discuss at renewal.  If we get a good bid the 4% can go away.  Commissioner Howard stated, looking at P & L we are doing good right now.  Andrew stated, the $1.00 raise was not in the information but the 20% estimated increase was; however, the numbers do not change as you are just pivoting numbers.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, at renewal, I feel we need to look at options with the numbers we receive.  I do not feel efficient for tax payer to continue this way but I have to be proven wrong.  If numbers are significantly different, I feel pathway is to get away from current plan.  Mayor Garcia stated, whatever numbers we put in budget we do not approve insurance until receive bid on insurance quotes.  If numbers are different we can discuss at renewal time.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, that does not offer anything for the employee but do not see any way around it.  To make a change it has to be a large difference.  We cannot offer any more reassurance to employees.  I feel we are on track to get information from Bob when we bid insurance.  His resume speaks for itself.  Andrew stated, we have PIC under contract, I will take direction from Commission.  If you want to pursue other bidders it is within your right.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, I am open to whoever wants to get our business.  Mayor Garcia stated, I feel it is good business.  Consensus from Commission is to get additional bidders at renewal.  Vice-Mayor Thompson asked, what is procedure to move budget forward?  Andrew stated, at this point I understand the Commission wants the 15% increase for insurance, $1.00 raise and 4% employee contribution in the budget.  ON A MOTION by Vice-Mayor Thompson to authorize publication of the budget for a public hearing at August 3rd meeting with the 15% increase for insurance, $1.00 raise and 4% employee contribution.  MOTION died for lack of second.  Commissioner Howard asked, why are we asking employees to pay 4% at this time?  I feel we need to just give them the $1.00 raise.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, I agree we can discuss at insurance renewal.  Andrew stated, if you do not want to ask for the 4% contribution we will have to make other cuts to ensure $1.00 raise.  Commissioner Howard stated, I feel we should because it sounds better to the employees when they do not have to pay for insurance.  Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, the 4% is about $45,000 and 15% is $165,000.  If we do not want employees to pay 4% then budget the $1.00 raise and reduce the 15% insurance estimate to equal difference.  Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, we need the $1.00 raise to get a more attractive starting wage.  ON A MOTION by Vice-Mayor Thompson to authorize publication of the budget for a public hearing at August 3rd meeting as presented reducing the 15% increase for insurance by the 4% employee contribution and including the $1.00 raise seconded by Commissioner Brumbaugh.  MOTION carried on a VOTE of 3-2 with Mayor Garcia and Commissioner Farris casting the dissenting votes. 

  • Economic Development Board Questions – Andrew stated, the Board met last week and had several questions.  The Board would like a unified answer from the City and County Commission as to how to proceed.  I am willing to see if the County Commission can meet again at our August 3rd meeting.  The at large board member appointed by the board is Bill Biermann.  Questions posed are as follows:
  • What is the desired timeline of getting the board established and someone hired?
  • How many positions are being budgeted for?
  • What is the startup budget available to get this organization/department operational?
  • What will the operational budget be for this organization/department once both entities are funding it in FY21?
  • What happens to the Chamber of Commerce funds?
  • Do we have access to City and County legal counsel?
  • Will the organization be a county department or 501c3/501c6?
  • Will all organizations be consolidated into one, or continue to exist separately?

Mayor Garcia stated, some of the questions cannot be answered until we meet with county.  City is budgeting $90,000 but we do not know what county is budgeting.  Andrew stated, the legal counsel question can be answered once we decide how we are going to form organization.  Mayor Garcia stated, once we establish the budget, this board has authority to make decisions as to what to pay director.  As far as Chamber funds the economic development director handled those.  I think we need to get with county to discuss and get answers.  Andrew stated, may I have authority to discuss with county to schedule meeting August 3rd or an alternate date?  Consensus of Commission is for Andrew to schedule a joint meeting.   


  1. City Manager – 1.  City is recipient of $948,000 cost share grant that will go toward extension of street for Topside Manor and replace a couple blocks on 17th Street.  The City share is $265,000 which is basically equals city/county share of Topside Manor extension.  2.  We finished Welcome Center parking lot.  The project was funded by a grant from Dane Hansen Foundation.  3.  Auditor will be at next meeting to present report.  4.  I will email budget report before next meeting.  5.  CVB awarded City a $700 grant for paint supplies to paint a mural on Main Street.  They also awarded a $300 grant for the City to become member of Main Street America.  6.  There are several road closures coming up.  August 1st Main Street from 8th to 17th Street will be closed for fair parade.  On August 13th the 1200 block of Main Street will be closed for NW Kansas Technical College march back to school event.  Main Street will be closed for Flatlanders.  7.  Chief Showalter has submitted her resignation so we are seeking replacement.  8.  The City recently lost Suzanne McClure.  Staff has been greatly impacted by her loss.  We all miss her greatly.  Commissioner Howard asked, are we offering Chief’s position to existing officers?  Andrew stated, they are welcome to apply but we are pursuing all applicants. 
  2. Municipal Court Clerk/Judge – LeAnn stated, you have copies of OJA State reports from July 1st through June 30th for two previous years.  The number of cases this past year decreased from 446 to 305, which includes three months of COVID when the officers were not filing as many cases. 
  3. Director of Public Power – Dustin stated, we are trying to recover from COVID schedule worked earlier 2020.  The Production crew are doing maintenance and cleaning of units, vehicles and equipment.  Mid States was here to work on substation battery backup system.  During this time Sunflower loaned us a unit until we got system repaired.  They replaced valves and two circulating motors at plant.  We ran units thirty hours for Sunflower during a maintenance outage so far this year.  If we did not have the plant Goodland would have been out of power.  From January to June we are 563,000 Kwh from what we sold last year.  We continue to work to keep weeds down and are continuing to advertise for a Power Plant Operator.  Distribution crew continues work on allies.  We have a project on east side of town to help relieve some power issues.  Eagle is hooking up twelve new services in town to better their service.  Holiday Inn Express powered up their pad mount transformer.  We continue to perform monthly checks, application of pest deterrent to help with efficiency of service and perform safety and maintenance on equipment.  The monthly apprenticeship training is going well for the three guys.  We are staying busy and the Commission is welcome to stop by plant anytime. 
  4. IT Director – Joshua stated, I am working on updates for computers and servers, auditing logs and preparing for phone and internet bids due November.  Vice-Mayor Thompson asked, who are we getting bids from?  Josh stated, anyone that offers the services: AT&T, S&T, Eagle Communications, etc.  I am separating out phone and internet services because it is easy to bid internet but not phones and we want to have comparable quotes. 
  5. City Commissioners

Vice-Mayor Thompson – 1.  The police department has had a lot of turnover.  I feel the force continues to do a good job and look forward to continued growth in the department. 2. Thank you to City employees, it takes everyone to run the City.

Commissioner Brumbaugh – 1.  I appreciate the professionalism of employees in our discussions; we are trying to make right decisions. 

Commissioner Howard – 1.  Thank you to all City employees for the work you do for the City, it takes everyone.  Commissioner Farris – 1.  No Report 

  • Mayor 1.  I think we had a good candid discussion with budget the way it is. It is concerning but majority speaks and have to respect the process. I appreciate what the employees do.  2.  When we completed Welcome Center parking lot did we get bids?  Andrew stated, I reached out to Millers Construction, Malsom and Sporer.  Sporer price was very good.  Mayor Garcia stated, local contractors feel Commission should give local business consideration even if a little higher.  Make sure we get as many bids as we can from local contractors. 

ADJOURNMENT WAS HAD ON A MOTION Commissioner Brumbaugh seconded by Commissioner Howard.  Motion carried by unanimous VOTE, meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.  Next meeting is scheduled for August 3, 2020.


ATTEST:                                                                               John Garcia, Mayor


Mary P. Volk, City Clerk