GOODLAND CITY COMMISSION
Joint Commission Meeting
April 16, 2019 7:30 A.M.
Meeting was called to order by Vice-Mayor Jay Dee Brumbaugh with Commissioner John Garcia, Commissioner Jacque Schields and Commissioner Annette Fairbanks responding to roll call. Mayor Brian Linin was reported absent.
Sherman County Commission Chairman Rod Blake called meeting to order with County Commissioner Larry Enfield responding to roll call. County Commissioner John Topliff was reported absent.
Also present from the City were Rich Simon – Director of Public Works, Dustin Bedore – Director of Electric Utilities, Joni Showalter – Police Chief, Brian James – Fire Chief, Mary Volk – City Clerk, and Andrew Finzen – City Manager. Also present from the County were Rochelle Standley – County Appraiser, Burton Pianalto – Sheriff, April Hall – County Treasurer, Eric Albright – County IT Director, Donna Price – CVB, Brett Mangan and Charles Mosier County Attorney’s and Ashley Mannis – County Clerk.
Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh led Pledge of Allegiance
DISCUSSION AND ACTION ITEMS
- Dispatch Update – Andrew updated Commissions that remodel for Dispatch Center is progressing and coming along nicely. Demolition is complete except wall between office and current center. They are currently sheet rocking, waiting on doors and new window to come in. I would like to invite you to stop in and see progress. County Chairman Blake stated, we are hearing good things. County Commissioner Enfield stated, the employees are excited.
County Commissioner Topliff reported to meeting.
- Sales Tax – Andrew stated, the sales tax discussion began at County Commission meeting on March 20th. County Chairman Blake stated, the reality is the County Commission discussed that we will be utilizing sales tax until the sunset date. Our reason is that it is bringing in more revenue than planned and we can use money for road maintenance, not knowing if the tax will pass the vote to continue. We need to add more paved roads in Sherman County that we have to maintain. The Commission could be changing in two years so it is a long way to look in future. County Commissioner Enfield stated, in next few years have to spend $3,000,000 on Highway 24 from Ruralton to Goodland. Commissioner Fairbanks asked, can you continue tax when bond was for specific projects and can be paid off? County Commissioner Topliff stated, we understand the City wants to get question on ballot prior to sunset. Andrew stated, yes that is City’s desire. Bond cycle is until 2023 but City understood County would pay bond off sooner which would close bond issue. County Chairman Blake stated, just because we can, does not mean we will. Charles stated, where Highway 24 was part of initial project of bond we are not obligated to pay bond off early even if we are able. I understand we can use money for maintenance of same roads in initial question. County Commissioner Enfield stated, we refunded the bond which saved money for County with lower interest rate. Charles stated, bond was refunded in 2012. County Commissioner Topliff asked, can we put it on ballot before sunset? Charles stated, I would have to consult with bond counsel but I understand we can if have all paperwork in place to have the vote done before sunset of tax. County Commissioner Enfield stated, even if question does not pass, the current sales tax does not have to stop until it sunsets. Andrew stated, previously there was a vote done before the sunset to continue tax that did not pass. County Commissioner Enfield stated, everyone was excited about the project, but the numbers presented for that project did not work with project presented. County Commissioner Topliff asked, what is plan? County Chairman Blake stated, we have to maintain our roads and City is proposing to use some of money for their needs which is a concern. Only other avenue we have is increase property tax and it has to go to ballot. Commissioner Fairbanks asked, has road never been budgeted for in past? County Commissioner Enfield stated, no we started putting $300,000 in budget last year but it does not go far. April stated, you have done quite a bit of work east and west on road, what were costs? It needs done again but how much do you spend to maintain it where it is? County Commissioner Topliff stated, we spent $700,000 in two years. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, sooner is better for you because you are throwing good money into bad project. County Commissioner Enfield stated, agriculture is back bone of our community, they have to have access. We cannot turn it to gravel and the State will close it if we turn it over to them. Commissioner Garcia asked, if bond sunsets in 2023 and sales tax generated is $2,000,000 per year and we split the tax, where will County get excess funding? Our last conversation was very productive to work together for community. It appears fairest way is through sales tax. We have to think pro-active in selling proposal to public. County Commissioner Topliff asked, do we want to put this to vote in 2021 so it does not sunset? Our means to fund excess is either increase property or sales tax. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh asked, what is significance of date? Charles stated, you can submit question at any time but will electors vote in tax so far in advance of sunset. The sooner the better for funding project. County Commissioner Topliff asked, why does City not ask for a half percent sales tax? Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, for same reason you do not want to raise the one percent to two percent. Andrew stated, it would still have to go to a vote. County Commissioner Enfield asked, how did you do the special sales tax at Arby’s without a vote? Andrew stated, that is Community Improvement District, which is a special district applied for by property owners. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, it sounds like no matter what we do, the County will not have enough money for road maintenance. The City has needs for a share of tax for infrastructure, economic development and unfit structures. We do not have room in our budget and this is what our voters have asked us to address. Citizens will vote for tax if we work together and both get a share of the tax. Highway 24 is important but so are things in City limits which is why we asked to share tax. County Chairman Blake stated, the City has other ways to finance projects which the County does not. Charles stated, so everyone understands, the current tax can only be used for maintenance of roads in original project, not for economic development, infrastructure or unfit structures. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, I understand, I am talking about when we extend tax. Commissioner Garcia stated, it will be presented better to citizens if we share the tax. County Chairman Blake stated, it is up to the vote of what citizens want. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh asked, if bond pays off early, when can we proceed for new vote?
Mayor Linin reported to meeting.
Andrew stated, the only way these tax revenues are generated are under City authority with a special purpose project for ten years. If we continue in this manner, it has to be done with ten year sunset. County Commissioner Topliff stated, at a minimum I support putting question on ballot prior to sunset and split money. How we fund Highway 24 after that is separate issue. April asked, can the County do a road tax for people that use it? Charles stated, not sure how we would do that. Mayor Linin asked, what is cost from Goodland to Ruralton now? County Commissioner Topliff stated, approximately $2,800,000. What is balance left on bond? April stated, there is not enough to pay it off today. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, it does not sound like it will pay off early. County Commissioner Topliff asked, what if Governor changes tax structure for State? Commissioner Garcia stated, that will be shifted like Rochelle indicated. Andrew stated, the City is not interested in sharing tax because we think County is flush with money. City is in same position as County; do more with less and we do not have money in budget. I am just as sympathetic to your case with current road project. Mayor Linin stated, we were under assumption it would pay off early but do not feel that is the case now. County Chairman Blake stated, it is up to voters so how do we present plan. County Commissioner Topliff stated, we need to present split for current tax and then determine how we fund remaining for Highway 24. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, whatever we do, we have to be united in our proposal. County Chairman Blake stated, one thing I will not agree on is for the City to determine how County will spend County share; that will be County decision. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh asked, what is life of new road? County Chairman Blake stated, with heavy truck traffic it does not last long. County Commissioner Enfield stated, it all depends on care and maintenance. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, when you say you want to use County money as you see fit, I am sure you are referring to economic development money we asked both City and County to include. We feel it would be helpful because County pulled out of funding economic development but it benefits everyone in County. You do not have fund full amount. County Chairman Blake stated, we have always talked about combining economic development and CVB, but if that happens it is more common for it to be under the umbrella of County and feel should be governed by a board with a director. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, it is certainly up for discussion. County Chairman Blake stated, I believe the less involvement government has in services the better it is.
- Service Sharing and Consolidations – County Commissioner Topliff asked, on consolidation of services, has it turned out to be positive for Greeley County? Charles stated, we think so; in our plan we included plans in the event it does not work to unwind the consolidation. It is fighting the factor that people do not like change or giving up some sort of control. Not everyone is happy but if you visit with people they will say they like it and that nothing has really changed with services. It was not presented to the people as a cost savings but more efficient means of providing services. It went into place in 2009. County Commissioner Topliff asked, if we consolidate fire and police do you think we would save money? Charles stated, I do not know; when we started the study we discussed consolidation with Wyandotte County, who said we had the two toughest departments out of the way because fire and police were already unified. Wyandotte County indicated that was toughest to sell to their citizens. It is difficult to answer whether these are areas you would recognize cost savings. We were honest and did not present it that way because we did not know. County Commissioner Topliff asked, does Greeley County have a Sherriff? Charles stated, yes that is all we have. In consolidation, if any elected position is eliminated it has to be a special question by itself along with the consolidation question. There are pro’s and con’s to appointed and elected positions. Appointed tend to be paid more than elected and serve for governing body. We did not decide to eliminate any elected position because we left it to the vote of the people. Many communities do what Greeley County did with fire and police and provide service by contract. There are things to look at that could be better than how Greeley County approached consolidation. County Commissioner Topliff asked, what is City feeling regarding service sharing? Mayor Linin stated, I think it is inevitable and from my business experience, if we wait until we have to, you do not benefit from situation. Anything we can work together on is better than working separately. County Commissioner Topliff stated, Fire District 1 is complicated. It will take a vote of people covered in contract to add another entity to the contract. There is a Board for the District and City would have representation on board. Charles stated, I have not looked at it from that standpoint; need to look at statutes for cooperation. County Chairman Blake asked, will funding be done internally or is the district its own entity? Mayor Linin stated, I would say we need to look at the Statutes and format it with what is best for our community. County Commissioner Topliff stated, we do not want to create another entity to make it complicated. Fire roster is combined and share Chief, we just have to come up with way that will not affect fire rating. County Chairman Blake asked, would Chief become employee of District rather than for City or County? Charles stated, it is all how you structure the plan. Brian James stated, I have discussed this issue with Steve Hersch from State Fireman’s Relief Association. He has worked with multiple departments that have consolidated and is more than willing to come explain the process and benefits to the Commission’s. He has not worked with any departments that have had a negative experience. Mayor Linin stated, we need to invite him out to start discussing which direction to head. County Chairman Blake stated, we have our foot in the door with fire so I do not believe the transition will take much. In the early days, the Sheriff was in place to protect the people. Do you think Law Enforcement will be positive? Burton stated, I think it is positive but like you say want to have the sheriff involved to protect the people rather than have an appointed position. There are some drawbacks because you are putting all your eggs in one basket if you had a crooked sheriff. We are here to work for the people and protect them. County Commissioner Enfield stated, we have discussed how well dispatch worked. Earlier we discussed when the Armory was available to combine using the facility as a Law Enforcement Center with the jail deteriorating. Burton stated, the biggest drawback there was that by statute the jail is owned by County and I would not put money in a city building. Charles stated, that is not necessarily true. Rochelle stated, I attended the Little KAC meeting where Max Dibble, Phillips County Commissioner talked about consolidating Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS. Charles stated, you need to tap all these resources and I agree you need to look at it before it is required of you. Look at the reality that population is not growing in this area. If you are trying to maintain status quo you are falling behind so you have to be progressive in your thinking. The sooner we begin, the better off we are. We need to look at all options; it may not necessarily get done but if do not evaluate it you are not benefiting your county and community. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, if you did not look at costs what was motivation? Charles stated, if you are more efficient in operations, there should be more cost savings but we were not going to guarantee people they would see it in case it may not happen. It has not happened with the state transferring costs down to local level. Again it is an economy of scale, if larger communities like Sherman County can get local government and services to operate more efficiently you will see cost savings but I would not present it that way. Commissioner Garcia stated, I agree with Charles and we have to be proactive and not wait until consolidation is imposed on us. We have a good fire chief and departments are working together, lets formulate it, as long as we do not add a taxing entity. Western Kansas is in a crisis with a continual decline in population. We have to evaluate how we can work together and move forward. April stated, typically a unified government has one board represent both commissions, did Greeley County cap elected officials or did they do away with some officials? Charles stated, we have one governing body but maintained all elected officials. Not all unified counties structured it that way. April stated, Wyandotte County structure is more of a business structure because they are appointed but Greeley is more governmental structure. Andrew asked, does everyone agree we proceed with research to consolidate fire at this time? Consensus of City and County Commissions are to proceed in this manner. Mayor Linin stated, I would also like to invite Mr. Dibble, Mr. Hersch and an individual from Greeley County to a meeting to hear their thoughts. Charles stated, from Greeley County I recommend Mike Tone as your best resource. He is most knowledgeable small county elected official that did his homework. One thing we did in Greeley County and can change anytime, but now recognize as a problem, is maintaining three budgets; County, Municipal and a Unified budget to use as a pass through. Now many say that is inefficient part of our operation. It is all a fear of giving up control. County Commissioner Topliff stated, the City and County fire budgets are each about $230,000. I suggest we combine them for a $400,000 budget and a board. Brian stated, in doing so we can combine equipment. County Chairman Blake stated, it sounds like everyone wants to focus attention to fire dept. County Commissioner Topliff stated, I make motion for a nine member board and have the City and County work through contract information. Burton asked, what are you doing with assets? Charles stated, existing assets can be dealt with by inter-local agreement and will be addressed in contract. Motion withdrawn for lack of second. Mayor Linin stated, if we are committed to this we can make it happen but need to begin with research. We have a fire chief that supports it.
County Chairman Blake stated, back to sales tax issue, we have to present question so we do not confuse voters. What is consensus; I want to do what is best for group. Commissioner Garcia stated, we need to keep it one percent split 50/50 like County Commissioner Topliff said. Mayor Linin stated, we need to get this passed and a big piece is working together which it appears we are. However, I feel better way to pass is some reduction from the one percent. County Chairman Blake stated, but we know we need more. Charles stated, you have to propose sales tax in quarter increments. Rochelle stated, everyone I visit with would rather pay sales tax than property tax. County Commissioner Enfield asked, is ten years the limit? Charles stated, there are some special purposes that have other guidelines. County is required to maintain roads and tax has to end after special purpose stated in project has ended, which is not necessarily ten year limit. Many other specified requirements are limited to ten years but could be less. If you look at sales tax statute there are a lot of special provisions available. You have to determine what you want to focus on. Under some provisions the split is ironed out and majority of tax will go to City because split by tax base and/or population. Andrew stated, I understand only tax Sherman County can take is for health care purposes. Charles stated, no one percent for roads in Sherman County then two and half percent for Sherman County, so have to look at special provision for project focus. Commissioner Garcia stated, I feel this tax passed because City and County wanted to show they were working together to complete projects within each area.
ADJOURNMENT WAS HAD ON A MOTION Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh seconded by Commissioner Fairbanks. Motion carried by unanimous VOTE, meeting Adjourned at 9:00 a.m.
ATTEST: Brian Linin, Mayor
Mary P. Volk, City Clerk