Archive for Friday, May 4, 2012

Basehor council members voice support for city employees

Ideas proposed at retreat include flat sewer rate

During the Basehor City Council's planning retreat at Falcon Lakes Golf Club in Basehor on May 3, (from left) City Clerk Corey Swisher and new council members Ty Garver, Vernon J. Fields and Brian Healy listen as Police Chief Lloyd Martley gives an overview of the police department.

During the Basehor City Council's planning retreat at Falcon Lakes Golf Club in Basehor on May 3, (from left) City Clerk Corey Swisher and new council members Ty Garver, Vernon J. Fields and Brian Healy listen as Police Chief Lloyd Martley gives an overview of the police department.

May 4, 2012

Members of Basehor’s new City Council stand firmly behind the city’s employees, they say.

And that may stand in contrast to the attitude of the previous council, some of the members suggested Thursday.

During the council’s annual planning retreat at Falcon Lakes Golf Club in Basehor, members heard an overview of the city’s operations from department heads, and they considered where the city should go from here. Different ideas emerged, but Mayor David Breuer and the council members agreed on one point: The city’s staff is top-notch.

Member Dick Drennon, who was appointed to the council in March, told department heads they could breathe easier now.

“I don’t think with any of us, it’s going to be like it was in the past where you’re going to have to look over your shoulder all the time,” Drennon said.

Brian Healy, who was appointed in April, said employees could perhaps more freely bring problems or concerns to council members.

“If you’re trying to hold back on something because the previous council, the previous folks, have not been willing to listen to that particular type of discussion — well, I’m not that way,” Healy said.

Healy said he would stand behind the staff, and he welcomed any residents with complaints about the city’s operations to come to him first.

Breuer lauded each staff leader at the retreat — police chief and interim city administrator Lloyd Martley, city clerk and finance director Corey Swisher, city engineer Mitch Pleak and city superintendent Gene Myracle — for their work improving their departments.

Martley said he appreciated the attitude displayed by the new council. In the past, he said, council members had sometimes reacted to concerns from citizens by attempting to solve problems themselves instead of talking them over with the city staff.

“Rely on us to do our jobs,” Martley said.

After reviewing the city’s operations, Breuer and council members reviewed some issues they might take on. Among those issues are:

• A proposal by Breuer to replace residents’ monthly sewer and trash bills with an annual assessment added to their property taxes.

If the city assigned every property a flat sewer rate rather than assigning individual rates based on usage, and it no longer mailed out monthly bills, it could save as much as $10,000 in postage and a good deal of staff time.

Breuer said that flat rate currently would amount to around $50 per month, and only about 200 of the city’s roughly 1,800 sewer customers would see a notable rate increase. Several members, though, noted that such a change could rankle smaller households and senior citizens with fixed incomes.

“You’re going to have people say, ‘Why am I paying the same amount as this family of eight over here?’ ” Drennon said.

Breuer said he knew the council would need to consider those concerns, and the idea was simply something for staff to explore.

• The management of several multimillion-dollar debts. By August, the city must obtain financing for two 2008 construction projects totaling about $3.7 million: the construction of Basehor Boulevard and improvements to 155th Street. After the city sells off the bonds, they will be repaid by nearby property owners as part of a benefit district.

Breuer said he’d also like the city to explore refinancing for about $10 million worth of debt owed to the state for its current and former wastewater treatment facilities. The low interest rates currently available could present a major savings opportunity, he said.

“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars here that can be saved,” Breuer said.

• Building permit fees. Breuer showed council members a recent residential building permit issued by the city that included about $8,000 in fees. Reducing those fees would require some research into what other area cities charge, he said, but he asked council members to consider whether the city was doing all it could to attract new homeowners.

“Are we really promoting a bedroom community?” Breuer said.

• Revamping the city’s employee pay matrix. Travis Miles, the lone member remaining from the previous council, said some employees’ wages were inadequate, including police patrol officers making just under $17 an hour.

Miles said he’d like to institute a system that includes annual cost-of-living pay increases along with performance-based raises. The current pay matrix simply gives every employee a 2.5 percent wage increase every two years.

Martley said the police department has had a difficult time keeping officers from jumping ship to take higher-paying law enforcement jobs nearby.

Comments

johninbasehor 2 years, 7 months ago

If the city assigned every property a flat sewer rate rather than assigning individual rates based on usage, and it no longer mailed out monthly bills, it could save as much as $10,000 in postage and a good deal of staff time.

$10,000 is quite a chunk of change. This is an exceptional idea to save money and pass the savings along to the citizens of Basehor. Many of us can use that money just as well as the post office. Also the savings in clerical and office time needed to generate a monthly bill for everyone in the city, and process payments, would be quite a savings of money that could be better spent.

I for one also appreciate the council looking into upgrading the pay our police officers. For a person to put their life on the line every time they go to work, and having the best possible people in those positions, a good pay and benefit package is a must! These are the people that defend the citizens from criminals, and when you are in danger, these are the fine men and women that are the first ones we call for help.

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Dennis Mertz 2 years, 7 months ago

Is it the Mayor and Council's intent to raise our taxes?

If you plan on paying more for benefits and give raises to employee's then I would like to know where the funds will come from?

If you plan on saving money on the sewer treatment plant by issuing General Obligation Bonds then the Citizens of Basehor should see a reduction in the Mill Levy.

Pick 2 of the following. Which will it be?

-Raise employee pay and benefits

-Lower the City’s Mill Levy

-Improve City services (new equipment, improvements to City)

Last year the Council worked hard to keep the Mill Levy level without raising taxes. This included making the employee benefits a flat rate to the City, holding pay raises to a minimum (while other City's froze theirs) , lowering the deferred compensation to a compatible rate as other City's pay just to name a few.

With the 2013 City budget just around the corner I felt that I would share some of my thoughts on spending and what we achieved last year.

Also with sewer income being 10% higher than last years prediction, are we going to see a reduction in our sewer rates?

I support the current Council in making responsible decisions.

Thank you,

Dennis Mertz

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Thinkaboutit 2 years, 7 months ago

I would be more than willing to pay a little more in taxes to pay our city hall and police employees what they deserve. The city hall is ran by skeleton staff so they deserve to be paid well! The police department has lost multiple officers to other better paying jobs. Absolutely nothing against our new offers because from who I have met they seem very knowledgable but if we are losing officers we need to raise their pay or we will soon lose what we have now!

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GladForNewCouncil 2 years, 7 months ago

An Officer’s Life

You wonder why he pulled you over and gave you a ticket for speeding, He just worked an accident where people died because they were going too fast. You wonder why that cop was so mean, He just got done working a case where a drunk driver killed a kid. You work for 8 hours, He works for up to 18 hours. You drink hot coffee to stay awake, The cold rain in the middle of the night keeps him awake. You complain of a "headache," and call in sick, He goes into work still hurt and sore from the guy he had to fight the night before. You drink your coffee on your way to the mall, He spills his as he runs Code 3 to a traffic crash with kids trapped inside. You make sure you're cell phone is in your pocket before you leave the house, He makes sure his gun is clean and fully loaded and his vest is tight. You talk trash about your "buddies" that aren't with you, He watches his buddy get shot at, and wounded in front of him. You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls, He walks down the highway looking for body parts from a traffic crash. You complain about how hot it is, He wears fifty pounds of gear and a bullet proof vest in July and still runs around chasing crack heads. You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong, He runs out before he gets his food to respond to an armed robbery. You get out of bed in the morning and take your time getting ready, He gets called out of bed at 2 am after working 12 hours and has to be into work A.S.A.P. for a homicide. You go to the mall and get your hair redone, He holds the hair of some college girl while shes puking in the back of his patrol car. You're angry because your class ran 5 minutes over, His shift ended 4 hours ago and there's no end in sight. You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight, He can't make any plans because on his off days he still gets called back into work. You yell and scream at the squad car that just past you because they slowed you down, He's in the driver seat of the squad car, going to cut somebody out of their car. You roll your eyes when a baby cries in public, He picks up a dead child in his arms and prays that it was crying. You criticize your police department and say they're never there quick enough, He blasts the siren while the person in front of him refuses to move while talking on their cell phone. You hear the jokes about fallen officers and say they should have known better, He is a hero and runs into situations when everyone else is running away in order to make sure no one else gets hurt and loses his life doing it. You are asked to go to the store by your parents, you don't, He would take a bullet for his buddy without question. *You sit there and judge him, saying that it's a waste of money to have them around, Yet as soon as you need help he is there.

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