Archive for Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mayor says city poised for growth

Garcia: Tax dollars aimed at quality-of-life projects

January 19, 2006

Basehor Mayor Chris Garcia sat behind his desk at City Hall thumbing through three sheets of paper that both recap his first eight months in office and paint his municipality as one brimming with growth.

"These are the types of things I've always said citizens need to know -- what was done with their tax dollars," Garcia said Tuesday night, holding up the papers. "Well, here's the story."

The city's first-term mayor is poised to deliver that story at 7:30 a.m. today to members of the Basehor Chamber of Commerce. Garcia will address chamber members for roughly 10 minutes with a State of the City 2006 address.

Clearly defined in Garcia's address are issues relating to "quality-of-life projects." There's an easy explanation for this, he said.

"I think the things people want to see, in my opinion, are quality of life things are being done with their money," he said. "That important things are being done to the community."

Quality of Life

Under a section outlining public works, "quality of life" projects completed in 2005 include: completion of a permanent restroom facility at Basehor City Park, paving of the City Hall parking lot, placement of cross walks for elementary school children, crosswalk push-button lights for children and asphalt overlays for approximately 12,200 feet of roads.

This year, the public works department has several projects scheduled for completion. They include: 147th Street and Hollingsworth Road improvements, asphalt overlay for the remaining portion of "old town Basehor," repairing broken sewer mains and continued work with developers on new construction projects.

A section on the police department also lists completed "quality of life projects." Most notable, Garcia said, are the hirings of a full-time investigator and the acquisition of a $35,000 federal grant to cover the salary of a drug agent for the city.

Other projects include implementing a loud-noise ordinance and a community relations program that has offered public seminars on domestic violence and identity theft as well as presentations in local schools on topics such as drug and alcohol abuse and gun safety.

Rooftops and infrastructure

Some other notable accomplishments from the past year listed in the State of the City address include:

¢ 4.4 miles of new road construction.

¢ Seven miles of sewer gravity mains.

¢ Three miles of sewer force mains.

¢ Implementation of four new sewer lift stations.

  • Three miles of road improvements.

The new infrastructure and improvements go hand-in-hand with the city's development figures. According to statistics, the city issued the same number of total building permits in 2005 -- 107 -- as it did in 2004.

Although the numbers remain the same, Garcia points out that the 2005 permit figures still top the city's target average of 75 to 100 permits issued per year.

A significant difference in the 2005 numbers is that the majority of permits issued last year were for single-family residences. The year before, the city issued 90 permits for single-family residences; that number rose to 102 single-family permits last year.

Sixteen multi-family permits were issued in 2004; that number dipped to three permits last year. One commercial building permit was issued in 2004; two were issued in 2005.

The number of building permits is only part of the growth picture. The permit numbers are dwarfed by the number of residential projects that have been approved by the Planning Commission and confirmed by the City Council:

¢ 469 single-family homes and/or patio homes.

¢ 69 single-family attached homes.

¢ 80 duplexes, or 160 units.

¢ 10 triplexes, or 30 units.

¢ 42 four-plexes, or 168 units.

¢ 248 apartment units.

Also, according to the State of the City address, 1,628 single-family homes, 85 duplexes and 24 four-plexes are listed on preliminary plats filed at City Hall.

Commercial growth

The disparity between the number of new homes in various stages of development in the city against the acreage slated for commercial use isn't lost on Garcia. He lists economic development as a top priority for the coming years as well as during his term as mayor.

Just 85 acres of ground was approved for commercial use in 2005. Another 100 acres is listed on preliminary plats. That's clearly not enough, Garcia said.

"It isn't," the mayor said. "If the population grows like it is, it's not going to be enough to support the services we need."

"We need to have that mix of services."

Garcia said the wheels of development -- rooftops being the carrot enticing new businesses -- will turn more swiftly, especially if the city is home to new amenities. He cited a new library, schools and community center as some of the features that could aid the process.

"Those are the things the new people would look at in deciding where they want to (live)," he said.

Help wanted

The year ahead for Basehor city government could begin with a key addition and one heavily sought after for more than a year: a new city administrator. At tonight's meeting, City Council members are scheduled to vote on a finalist for the position.

"I think the (top) priority has been getting a city administrator on board," Garcia said. With a city administrator, he added, "the proper attention will be given to a number of things, which is a big plus.

"I think what we've been lacking is that day-to-day attention to these issues. It's going to be nice to have that person sitting here."

More staffing additions also are on Garcia's radar. The mayor said adding more personnel, which he deems essential to helping plan for and work with new development, is high on his list of priorities.

Garcia said hiring a director of community development, another key position city officials have sought to fill, will most likely be shelved in favor of hiring a planner.

"We're not finding that person out there, with the money that we're offering," said Garcia, who noted that the city budgeted a salary of approximately $44,600 toward the position.

The mayor also would like to see new positions filled for the administrative, public works and police departments.

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