Council tables benefit district policy adoption
After discussions about the redundancy and fairness of a new Benefit District By Petition Policy, City Council members have decided the proposed policy needs some clarification and they need more time to weigh the issue.
In a 6-1 vote, with Andi Pawlowski absent and Dee Hininger Jr., opposed, Council members on Thursday, Dec. 6, tabled a policy that, in anticipation of future petitions for benefit district financing, describes the city's conditions and standards for developers.
Benefit district financing captures annual assessments on property owners in a given area and allows those funds to pay for infrastructure improvements in the district. The city has only approved two of these districts - Bittersweet Street and Conway Heights - in the past 10 years.
The new policy up for consideration follows the already existing Kansas law. Ward 2 Council member Don Studnicka asked whether the city policy was necessary if it's already part of state law.
Mayor Kenneth Bernard responded that the council requested such a policy so that a basic guideline was available for developers who were new to the process in Lansing. He said the policy wouldn't change the way the city handles benefit districts, and all final decisions still would require council approval.
City Administrator Mike Smith added that the policy was written to protect the city and its taxpayers and that projects would be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
"There is protection in the policy," he said. "I think it is a good one. We made it so the council has to approve everything."
Studnicka then pointed out that currently the council had to approve all benefit district requests and asked how the policy, which establishes the same thing, would make the city more protected.
"I think we've taken a simple policy and we've complicated it," Bernard said, adding that the policy was only meant to help future developers get information about the city's stance on benefit districts.
In a second concern, Ward 4 Council member Harland Russell asked why section G of the policy, which concerns off-site improvements, specifically mentions planned unit developments and commercial developments but not residential developments.
Russell said a commercial property needing benefit district financing to bring sewers up to a development is no different than a residential property needing the same.
Bernard said it must have been an oversight and that it shouldn't be a problem to either remove that section or revise it to include residential developments.
Russell then moved to table the policy so he and others could look more closely at the state statute as well as give the city time to revise section G.
In other business Thursday, the council:
¢ Heard a presentation of the Annual Discretionary Merit Pay Awards. City employees who scored a 90 or higher on their annual employee evaluations conducted by City Administrator Mike Smith received a cash prize. The following people received awards this year: Billy Blackwell II, William Blankenship, Georgia Brown, Cody Burnett, Scott Crawford, Jason Crum, Gordon Cunning, Darlene Dean, Melvin Derritt, Brian Duncan, Richard Fairbanks, Jeff Focht, Lorraine Gluch, Fred Grenier, Chris Hermann, Mike Heuer, Sundae Holler, John Jacobson, Debbie Kirby, William Linn, Chad Lough, Ann Magee, Jim Magee, Alicia Mein, Christina Moberly, Robin Mock, Brandon Mohan, Jim Ogden, Ben Ontiveros, Byron Parsons, Kenny Payne, Carroll Pitts, Sunshine Petrone, Rebecca Savidge, Dennis Thompson, Cynthia Tripp, Steve Wayman, John Young and Tony Zell.
¢ Heard the final Main Street Enhancement Project update from Ken Miller, Main Street project liaison. Miller said the project was completed and that KDOT and Lexeco Inc. were working on a punch list, which is a list of items that need to be corrected.
So far a bridge joint needs to be replaced, and a chain link fence around KinderCare and lights under the Seven-Mile Creek Bridge need to be installed.
¢ Approved, 7-0, the reappointment of Joe Herring, Dale Bohannon, Kevin Gardner, Brian Kroll and Julie Hawkins to the Lansing Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for a term ending Dec. 31 2009.
¢ Approved, 7-0, the reappointment of Dave Freeman and Kevin Gardner to the Lansing Tree Board for a term ending Dec. 31, 2010.
¢ Approved, 7-0, a cereal malt beverage license for Charles R. Wood Oil Company Inc., 109 4-H Road.
¢ Approved, 7-0, a cereal malt beverage license for WKRP Management, LLC Pizza Hut, 407 N. Main Street.
¢ Approved, 7-0, an updated fine schedule for Lansing Municipal Court.
¢ Tabled, 7-0, the approval of the new by-laws for the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum Inc., for minor changes.