April 28, 2021 Work Session Minutes

April 28, 2021 Work Session Minutes

April 28, 2021 Work Session Minutes

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Commission Work Session

April 21, 2021                                                                                                                                 5:00 P.M.

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

Also present were Joshua Jordan – IT Director, Dustin Bedore – Director of Electric Utilities, Mary Volk – City Clerk and Alan Lanning – City Manager. 


  1. Strategic Planning Session – Alan stated, from our previous meeting the overall goal was economic stability.  This can be changed.  The information was broke down into Infrastructure, Financial, Support Services, City Services, Marketing and Economic Development.  Is the Commission comfortable with these sub-topics?  Commissioner Thompson stated, I feel it is a good starting point.  Alan stated, general fund infrastructure is broken down into roads, annexations/land, and housing.  What is important about our roads?  Commissioner Thompson stated, most important is maintenance and staying on top of what we have.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, maintenance of roads in the manner that saves money in the future.  Alan stated, the chip seal budget is the same as it was ten years ago so the schedule is behind.  If maintenance is a priority you have to fund the project.  We are doing about half of what we did ten years ago.  We tested an asphalt zipper last week.  How can the City self-perform as much work as possible with equipment, staff and time we have?  Kenton does good concrete work.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, we do not want to burn the staff out doing that work.  Alan stated, they look forward to doing different projects like this.  We need to look at self-performance.  Our labor cost is the same no matter the project, unlike hiring a contractor.  The work has to be within your abilities and performance.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, we save money but it is a toll on our staff which needs to be considered.  I agree to the concept, but we need to take care of our people.  Alan stated, when we hire staff, we curtail the job description to our staffing needs.  Maintenance of roads is a big deal.  Commissioner Thompson stated, we have a lot of sidewalks in some parts of town that are in bad shape.  I am unsure where financial responsibility lies.  Alan stated, at a previous meeting you discussed land.  When you discussed annexation, I understood it to be land attracting an enterprise, whether the land is privately or City owned.  I looked at land south of Highway 24 to I-70, between the two exits.  Commissioner Howard stated, with the payback of utilities, what does that do with the property value?  Alan stated, nothing until the land is developed.  Undeveloped land is not worth much.  With annexations, we need to approach key areas and consider the ten year penalty with utilities.  We met with Midwest Electric to clean up service areas.  With regards to housing, I understand the Commission wants to look at a tiny home zone.  Mayor Garcia stated, we need to consider a new housing development and the key expense that comes with development area.  The State is working aggressively to find venues to help communities with housing developments.  It is a problem in all communities.  Alan stated, we started the rehabilitation program.  In this round the Commission has two projects to review that total $6,000.  $4,000 will remain in program.  Once this program gets rolling, demand will increase.  Grants fall under all categories.  Commissioner Thompson stated, to improve downtown there will have to be some infrastructure improvements.  I like the downtown video, but it is expensive.  I feel like a downtown should feel like a neighborhood, ours does not.  Alan stated, with a downtown you want a neighborhood feeling with trees and sidewalks.  Does anyone beside the City work on downtown improvements?  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, only the volunteer groups with the planters.  We have had recent discussions to make improvements to get people downtown.  I had business people, that are no longer in business, tell me these ideas are good, but at the end of the day it looks nice but people do not come into your store.  Mayor Garcia stated, Darin Neufeld is knowledgeable in downtown revitalization projects.  Commissioner Thompson stated, the Bricksters were active a couple years ago, but COVID last year slowed down their drive.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, they give incentives to businesses along the interstate but I think we need incentives on a smaller scale for downtown businesses to get people to open their doors.  Alan asked, were incentives at interstate offered or asked for?  Mayor Garcia stated, in the past if there was utility work, we offered programs to help cut costs.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, we need to do something outside electrical incentives.  Mayor Garcia asked, if someone wants to come to town, what do we do for an incentive?  Dustin stated, in recent past we have waived some labor, but they always pay supply and equipment costs.  Alan stated, never say no to an incentive as they have already selected your community.  Incentives are a way to reduce their costs.  They are going to ask even if they do not get it.  Mayor Garcia stated, incentives will go under economic development and the new board.  Alan stated, I have been having conversations with an asset management company that sells software as detailed as you want.  It provides a lot of detail on your assets.  I am having four department heads look at the software to see if they feel it will be a benefit.  If it works, I am going to ask for money to purchase it.  They maintain the information for the City and I feel it will be value driven.  In the water utility, what does Commission feel is important?  Commissioner Howard stated, to decrease water loss.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, the same discussion as the roads, maintenance.  Alan stated, we need to make a concerted effort to replace remaining transite pipe and maintenance of lines.  Neal and I have daily conversations as to what needs to be done and the money to do it.  We need a rate study to set rates that fund improvements.  The key is to apply the rate study or it is a wasted effort.   What about sewer utility?  I feel we need to examine the disposal of waste.  There are opportunities to compress waste into solid cubes but it takes an equipment upgrade.  Is there an upgraded system to install for the smell and handling?  Commissioner Howard stated, again it is general maintenance.  Alan stated, the electric system is in pretty good shape.  There is standard maintenance, rates and a contract for services.  We have entered into contract discussions.  Dustin stated, my concern is we need to release congestion on feeder four.  We have started planning improvements for south loop.  The north loop is pretty good; we may have to do improvements on system north and west of Topside Manor as the poles have been in the ground a long time.  To put service underground would cost $1,300,000.  I do feel we need to discuss plans as to what we are doing with the area.  Commissioner Thompson stated, we need to look at the interest for some kind of renewable energy.  Dustin stated, through discussion with Prairie Land, you can buy into renewable projects without having a project here.  Our engines have been installed since the 1920’s but a solar panel will need to be replaced in twenty years.  Alan stated, there are a lot of possibilities.  What about the airport?  We are planning the runway extension; how do you feel about growing your airport?  The Airport Board will be at meeting Monday so you can ask those questions.  Commissioner Thompson stated, we have the masterplan where these projects come out of, but what is City getting out of the investment made at the airport?  Mayor Garcia stated, once we get the runway extension complete, I feel we will get more activity at airport.  The only thing we can address for reconstruction is what to charge for hangars.  Dustin stated, I had an email today requesting input on car charging station sites so feel we will have influx in these.  Those are a large draw on our system.  We need to make a plan because if we have to build lines to service them, it will be costly.  We cannot do it at the expense of our system.  Alan stated, I have reviewed Tesla and 24/7, it is not the electricity needed, but the demand on our system.  Is the cost to get them service worth the benefit to City?  Mayor Garcia asked, do we own anyplace to provide a location?  Dustin stated, they will want the site at the interstate, but also need to have something to draw traffic off interstate.  If 24/7 puts in a restaurant and coffee shop, I hope it draws traffic off.  Mayor Garcia stated, how many stations is he putting in?  Alan stated, two fast charging stations.  Dustin stated, there is “etiquette” in charging the cars.  There is also those that charge their car, go home and use that to power their house.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, on utility rates, I would like to see small steady increases instead of always playing catch up.  Alan stated, with water and sewer we need to look at easements to make sure they are in place.  Under financial, general fund has very little room; we have a lot of money transferred into the fund.  My desire is to decrease operating expenses 5% and set up a discretionary fund to allow funding of projects that people need along the way at the discretion of the City Manager or Commission.  There is the need for individuals to have discretion in own budgets.  Mary stated, we had discretionary funds for the Commission in the past but they were taken out of the budget.  Alan stated, these funds are to move forward and have funds for projects where money is needed.  The City needs to increase income, one way is the sales tax that will be sun-setting soon and to keep half of it.  The State takes too much of our tax.  Commissioner Thompson stated, we may not like it but we cannot do anything about it.  Mayor Garcia stated, the only way we could make a huge impact with the State is to be represented by a large coalition of municipalities.  Alan stated, you can raise property taxes.  A possibility is to raise taxes in increments to slowly work toward your goals.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, the reason we setup discretionary funds was for the Commission to complete a project once a year.  I feel we should get back to them so people can see progress.  Mayor Garcia stated, there are a variety of projects, one thing discussed was a sound system on Main Street.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, a possibility for discretionary funds is downtown revitalization.  Commissioner Thompson stated, what about collaborating with groups in town that are making improvements, like Topside Trail.  Mary asked, have you looked into the sunset date for the tax?  Mayor Garcia stated, we need to have a discussion with the County.  Alan stated, general fund is mostly for day to day operations and road projects.  In the enterprise funds we need to do an appropriate rate study to ensure rates cover maintenance and improvement costs.  Mayor Garcia stated, another conversation is for the police and sheriff to partner patrol operations to create additional finances for City.  The County is outgrowing their space.  Alan stated, we need to examine space at the Armory and the County needs.  I feel the best way is to have patrol operations out of Armory without consolidating departments to see if it works.  Mayor Garcia stated, I am not talking about consolidating; I would like to consider building pods to house prisoners and have county pay us.  Alan stated, how does the Commission perceive our service levels?  Commissioner Thompson stated, I feel the number of employees in the department should be left up to the department head and they relay information to Commission.  Our concern should be to make sure everyone is taken care of financially with pay and benefits.  Alan stated, I think we are appropriate in contracting services.  We currently contract with the GAC and cemetery services and feel can work with Code Enforcement position.  This is a way to maintain service levels without maintaining a staff member.  We have discussed partnerships between City, County, College and Library.  We have sales tax leakage because money earned in Goodland is being spent outside community.  You discussed downtown and improvements to attract people to visit and spend money.  What can we do to keep people in Goodland?  The Commission has discussed the improvements of parks with amenities and services.  What do you want to see?  Commissioner Thompson stated, the community lacks activities after 5:00 p.m.  Whatever that may be, it is a problem.  Consensus of Commission is for next work session to be held Monday May 10, 2021.

ADJOURNMENT for work session was at 6:40 p.m.


ATTEST:                                                                               John Garcia, Mayor


Mary P. Volk, City Clerk