Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2004

Council picks top city priorities

June 24, 2004

Basehor city officials decided the future direction of Basehor, the fifth fastest growing city in the state, in an open meeting Tuesday at City Hall without a single member of the general public in attendance.

The only three members of the audience, City Clerk Mary Ann Mogle, George Smith, chairman of both the Planning Commission and Basehor PRIDE, and a reporter, watched members of the City Council, Mayor Joseph Scherer and City Administrator David Fuqua outline the top priorities for the city.

Not surprisingly, the four present members of the Council listed several different means to facilitate growth among the city's top priorities.

"What we all are here for is to make sure the best possible things happen for the city," Mayor Joseph Scherer said.

During a brainstorming session, members of the Council listed facilitating the U. S. Highway 24/40 corridor, developing downtown on 155th Street near the existing City Hall and acquiring land for street right of ways. The Council also named establishing a municipal utility, establishing a recreational pool or community center, ensuring sewer capacity, developing business around the Kansas Highway 7 corridor and, at Scherer's request, considering adding an ambulance service as priorities.

Following a round of discussion, the majority of the Council, which was missing William Hooker for the second straight night, trimmed the list to four priorities to which members were willing to commit either time or money. Right-of-way acquisitions, land for a new City Hall in the proposed downtown district, a second sewer treatment plant and a municipal water utility all made the short list.

"I came here tonight wanting a vision," Scherer said. "I have got it now and I am happy."

Together, the governing body agreed that a significant amount of time, along with roughly $500,000 would be necessary to see those four projects get off of the ground. However, city officials had a more difficult time coming to terms with a plan to finance the deals. The Council's budget workshop ended Monday with a general consensus that the city will not raise the mill levy in 2005. Thus, the mechanism for which the city will generate funds for floating new programs and creating new positions is a bit unclear.

However, Council member John Bonee said the reason for the necessity of those four initiatives will also prove to be the solution to providing a means to implement them.

"Let's keep this all in perspective and not out run everything here," he said. "We will have (through projected growth) the tax base to allow us to borrow the money to fund all four."

Members of the Council decided to drop facilitating the 24/40 corridor because steps, such as improving the road and the beginnings of commercial growth, are already in place.

The recreation center idea was put on hold because members of the Council said it was so closely tied to residential growth and the establishment of a downtown district. Scherer said the ambulance notion was largely his personal goal and members of the Council determined that since land had been acquired already around Kansas Highway 7 the development is likely to occur on its own.

Even though the majority of the council and the mayor appear to have enacted a plan of attack, that does not mean that Basehor will not have to deal with difficult times as the city grows.

"We are going to realize some growing pains and have to stick it out," Bonee said. "We will wait for the development to happen and, when it does, lo and behold, along comes the money. If the development doesn't happen, then none of this will matter anyway."

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