Archive for Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hiring new city administrator remains top priority for mayor

November 17, 2005

Basehor Mayor Chris Garcia is hoping the second year of his first term goes a little smoother than the first.

Garcia has been on the job for approximately eight months. He and the council have been saddled with trying to find a solution to a sewer plant capacity problem and attempting to hire a new city administrator.

Those two issues are at the forefront of the mayor's agenda, on top of managing the city's residential and commercial development, coordinating council meetings and overseeing the day-to-day municipal government operation.

Garcia recently sat down with the newspaper to discuss the on-going issues in city government.

Q: You've listed hiring a new city administrator as the council's top priority and the council recently re-opened a search for an administrator. Why is the position so important to city government, and how is the second search coming along?

A: Filling the position of city administrator is still a top priority for the mayor and city council. The person we hire will be in charge of running the business of the city on a day-to-day basis. The staff, city council and myself have been trying to keep up with the number of meetings where we need to represent the city of Basehor. The staff has been doing an excellent job of picking up the slack where it is needed.

An advertisement for the city administrator was placed the first week of November. I will be naming a selection committee soon to begin reviewing applications. Interviews will take place in December. The council should be given a name for approval at a meeting in December. We hope to have a person in the administrator position the first week of January.

Q: Estimates indicate the sewer plant is nearing its peak capacity and an expansion project could cost between $5 million and $6 million. How will the city fund this project? Is raising taxes an option?

A: The council will receive a final report on the sewer plant from Larkin Group at our Nov. 21 meeting. The report should tell us the current capacity of the sewer plant, capacity available and when and if an expansion is needed. Another issue to be answered is if we use the existing expansion plans or engineer a different design.

I have directed Larkin Group to give us an estimate on doing a rate study for the city. This study should tell us if our rates are sufficient to meet our current and possible future financial obligations. If the city continues with the growth we are experiencing, new users could possibly fund any new expansions without a tax increase.

Q: Improving roads are always a concern for residents and local government. The council is currently working on improving Hollingsworth Road in north Basehor. What other roads are on tap for improvement and why?

A: The council has directed me to send a letter to the Leavenworth County Commission requesting we enter into an interlocal agreement to proceed with improvements to Hollingsworth Road. Joe McAfee, our city engineer, will be working with the county engineer to review road plans. Also, road design and engineering drawings for 147th Street, north of Parallel are complete. Gene Myracle, street superintendent, will be presenting right of way easement requests to affected property owners.

The council and I have determined the improvements to these two road projects are a top priority for economic development in our city.

Q: Developing a new downtown area in the city has been a goal of several residents and organizations in recent years. Is it reasonable to believe that a new downtown district could be developed in the area currently referred to as downtown? And, if not possible there, where is the next best option?

A: One developer has come forward with a new plan to build some retail space in our current downtown area. There have been other areas approved for retail development in other parts of the city. Downtown could mean different things to different people -- it all depends on how you look at it. Does a downtown mean that is where your city hall, fire station, post office, library, etcetera, are located? It depends on where land and infrastructure is available. The city is currently working on a new comprehensive plan, which takes into consideration where downtown should be located.

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