October 08, 2019 Joint Commission Meeting Minutes
GOODLAND CITY COMMISSION
Joint Commission Meeting
October 8, 2019 7:30 A.M.
Meeting was called to order by Mayor Brian Linin with Vice-Mayor Jay Dee Brumbaugh, Commissioner Annette Fairbanks, Commissioner John Garcia and Commissioner Jacque Schields responding to roll call.
Sherman County Commission Chairman Rod Blake called meeting to order with County Commissioner Larry Enfield and County Commissioner John Topliff responding to roll call.
Also present from the City were Dustin Bedore – Director of Electric Utilities, Joni Showalter – Police Chief, Trevor Willemsen – Assistant Police Chief, Suzanne McClure – Economic Development Director, Brian James – Fire Chief, LeAnn Taylor – Municipal Court Clerk/Judge, Jake Kling – City Attorney, Mary Volk – City Clerk, and Andrew Finzen – City Manager. Also present from Sherman County were Rachelle Standley – County Appraiser, Burton Pianalto – Sherriff, April Hall – County Clerk, Donna Price – CVB and Ashley Mannis – County Clerk.
Mayor Linin led Pledge of Allegiance
DISCUSSION AND ACTION ITEMS
- CVB/Economic Development/Chamber of Commerce – Ron Harding citizen stated, I was impressed with the City meeting last night. The willingness to work together impressed me as it is important for a small community. In previous years it was boggled down by form of government. I feel it is time to make one more step to bring development together. Economic Development needs to help tourism and tourism needs to help development. You are working with limited budgets and staff. We need to work together and cross fund projects to get things accomplished. When you have big projects like we did with NSI in past, you have to work together. I recommend housing all three entities under one roof so can work together with one manager. The entities have accountability to manager and their boards. My question today is how committed are you to bring it together? You need to think about it with both the City and County considering an annual investment of $100,000 each, or it will not work. You are in competition with every community inside and outside of Kansas. I see us sliding again and our population is declining. Main Street is floundering and as a business on Main Street, you stand alone. We do not have the activity we used to have. We have good things like the hotel being built but need to work for other projects. Our neighbors have taken the truck industry but Goodland has legislation for triple trailer trucks which no neighbor community has. There are many possibilities but require commitment to ensure funded properly. I am concerned about the sunflower industry with changing markets. I have a model that I have sketched out as a way to pull it all together. Commissioner Garcia asked, please enlighten the County Commission on the statistics you gave City Commission last night when Goodland lost the railroad and the sugar beet factory. Ron stated, I began during a crisis period, the railroad shut down and Goodland lost eighty families. Then Great Western Sugar closed and Goodland lost seventy-five full time and fifty part time jobs. It was a big loss to the community. Irrigation development then came to an end, requiring three business to relocate out of town. I could drive south to north down the street finding from one to three houses for sale in each block. Bergen Tire was closed because they built their business around the sugar beet factory. With eighty families moving out of our community, it was a drain on our schools. When the Sunflower Plant was looking at a place to locate in the Midwest, both Pat Roberts and Bob Dole called me as they wanted the plant located in their district. The City and County together invested to get the plant located in Goodland. The City invested $400,000 and the County built the sewer system and mitigated infractions in the park. The Superintendent of the school called me after NSI asking about the extra tax money they received for capital outlay. The tax base funneled into school system which helped pay off the addition to the field house. That is what happens with development; it builds your tax base. You have to realize things change from time to time but you have to continue to work to grow. Takes time and investment. You will have lots of successes and failures, but have to know when to walk away from projects. I suggest you structure it as a private sector entity. Andrew asked, where did you come up with $200,000 annually? Ron stated, I know what it takes, people in development will be out on road recruiting from all over. It takes money. Commissioner Garcia stated, one of the progressive aspects we have now is the fund is started, when Ron was running organization, he had to create funds to appropriately fund operations. Ron stated, $200,000 is a minimum. If another organization is incorporated, you will have to increase costs for organization. You have to have staff for each entity and make sure everyone is communicating. Mayor Linin stated, previously the organizations were structured this way with separate boards. Ron stated, legislation requires CVB have a board of their own. When we increased the bed tax we recommended a Charter Ordinance from Sherman County to ensure we collected tax from businesses throughout county. Funds need to be protected and accounted for so you need separate boards. You need one CEO committed to each board and to be able to track all money and how allocated. County Chairman Blake stated, thank you this is good information. Ron stated, I will commit to help with consulting and piece together organization, but limited beyond that point. Mayor Linin stated, you asked how committed we are, I have never thought of it that way. I always believe if we work together we will accomplish more. We have to stay ahead of the rest of state to stay together. I would like to see Goodland thrive more; we have good assets that other communities do not. I am not pessimistic at all, I feel we have good opportunities. The more we can work together, the more we are ahead of our neighbor’s. Commissioner Garcia stated, at our meeting last night the City agreed to do our research, be proactive and work together. We need to become a model. County Commissioner Enfield stated, I have always been criticized because I feel to make our town grow, we have to build on interstate. We have to get business by interstate to get people to stop. I am sorry Main Street is in the shape it is but I feel we need to progress at interstate. Mayor Linin stated, you have to be committed to develop where the opportunities are, but should not give up on Main Street. There are businesses suited for Main Street that serve your local citizens. It is not what it used to be but more businesses that serve our local public. County Commissioner Enfield stated, that is correct, if you build business at interstate and get people to stop, workers at these businesses will get people downtown. Ron stated, you need to look at your Main Street and do something unique to pull people into town and keep people home. That was the idea of Flatlander Fall Festival and look how it works. Some towns have unique businesses that add to the mix. Main Street is no longer for retail, internet took care of that. We need to create a new environment. Mayor Linin stated, if we look at the facts, Main Street is not dying, it is changing with industry. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, it offers a lot more service than retail. Mayor Linin stated, it is different but that does not mean it is wrong. County Commissioner Topliff stated, I talked to a business owner at Bennett who indicated how their town is changing with Denver people moving in. We have the potential of wind energy coming which would change the face of our county. It will be different but we need to look at it. Ron stated, we need to look at the opportunities and be ready for what we are presented. Make it enticing for people to make change. The college is our community’s biggest asset, students come from all over. Rod stated, CVB meets first Tuesday of month; we would like ideas from them on what extra funds might do and how we can tie them as local as can. Donna Price, CVB Director stated, at our last meeting we talked about a strategic plan and working with the Department of Commerce after the first of the year. We want to take Scenic Byway and Smokey back from County and take on more responsibility with the projects. We are reviewing what we can do by Statute. Lincoln Wilson citizen stated, I previously indicated that CVB had not participated with Flatlander Festival; however, that is incorrect. They helped with printing and postage with festival. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, I am curious what Donna thinks of Ron’s proposal and working together. Donna stated, I think it deserves discussion; I was hired by Ron but things have changed. We have to be careful with our funds as they are restricted by legislature. I do work with Suzanne, no one knows how we work together. I am fortunate that my board is involved and knows what we are doing. That is where Economic Development is at a disadvantage since they have no board, you do not get to float ideas around. There is a lot of discussion that needs to take place and controls put in place so there is no comingling of funds. You have to have a lot of transparency. April asked, where does the Chamber of Commerce stand? Commissioner Garcia stated, the Chamber is under auspices of City. We donated to Flatlander Festival. We are in the process of restructuring the board and do promote the Christmas parade. April stated, I would assume numbers are down because of different business structure. Commissioner Garcia stated, I am unsure the reason, but I feel it is more due to economic battles. I personally keep Chamber going because I feel we need the presence. My main point is as long as there is a Chamber we are accomplishing something. It is far from dormant. Chamber responsibility is to promote Goodland and our businesses. We need to harness all entities and focus on our strengths. That is precisely why Ron has a good idea. Ron stated, once the organization is in place you bring in professionals to help community make a plan, but every entity has to be committed to plan. Andrew stated, we are hung up on commingling of funds but both the City and County have same situation with specific funds, it does not mean you cannot govern under one roof. I feel that point is benign. City has voiced its stance on housing all of them under one roof. County Commissioner Topliff stated, we need to have one building that will house all entities. It is a great concept but need large meeting room. The Roadway lot is a good location if we can put up a building with a convention center next to the hotels. I feel we can use CVB money for that purpose. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, there is room for expansion under VanGogh which is the attraction for our community. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh asked, if you raise bed tax, can it be allocated toward something like that? County Chairman Blake stated, have you seen the Oakley Buffalo Bill site, it is very beneficial. County Commissioner Topliff stated, the Welcome Center west of town is great idea but it is responsible for people not stopping in Goodland. They get their free coffee then load up and move on to Colby. Mayor Linin stated, I am in favor of looking for a facility that can house all three entities. County Commissioner Topliff stated, if we can fund it with a bed tax, let it pay for it rather than a sales tax. Lincoln stated, you need more discussion, not about the three entities under one roof but having the ability for them to come to one location and share ideas. The Chamber is down because retail businesses are not finding value in the Chamber. CVB responsibility is to put heads in beds. You need to get a strategic plan for the community. Economic Development needs to have a strategic plan, as well the City and County need a plan. Use funds in your budget to grow from the foundation up. It is going down because of failure to plan. If you are going to grow business in the community, you have to get something to attract young people here for growth in their families. County Commissioner Enfield stated, this is good conversation and I am for getting something accomplished
- Sheriff’s Office/Police Department – County Commissioner Enfield stated, I would like to hear where we stand on progress on fire merger to get something accomplished. County Commissioner Topliff stated, we will discuss at our meeting later. If we approve of information, we can forward to the attorney’s. The City Commission discussed information at their meeting last night. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, if you have concerns, let us know and we can work it out. Jake stated, just be aware, it will not be a quick completion, we have to put together agreement and policy information before the agreement can go to Attorney General for approval. Just be aware to have a consolidated department, it will take time to complete agreement with operations and terms. It will get done, just not a simple fix getting interlocal agreement approved. County Commissioner Enfield stated, I agree but we want to stay on task before start new topics for discussion. Mayor Linin stated, I understand you have to work out legal documents and I do not want to start new conversation if we have not completed fire. County Commissioner Enfield stated, for next joint meeting we need to discuss policy information on fire merger that need to be finalized. If you have additional discussion points for attorney’s we can discuss next meeting. Andrew asked, so the Commission’s do not want to discuss any other items until fire merger is done. Mayor Linin stated, we need to make fire items our priority before we move to additional discussion items. Commissioner Garcia stated, the next step for CVB/Economic Development/Chamber of Commerce requires County discussion, then bring back to City to proceed. It appears Tuesday meetings seem to have time constraints so we may need to change meeting days. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, for Sheriff’s Office and Police Department topic I feel it is important we be aware of the unrest with employees. It is important as governing bodies to support them and assure them their positions are safe. There is a lot of anxiety that is consuming the departments. County Commissioner Enfield stated, we have never discussed this topic at a County meeting. Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, I feel it is important we remember the employees. Trevor stated, I understand but the source of anxiety for our officers is not coming from the governing bodies, it is what is not being done to corral the community. The officers are being asked about it daily and it is causing tension. It is brought about by citizens who feel they have your ear. It does not have to be discussed between the City and County, it is in the community and causing tensions. They are asked why it is being put on the agenda and not discussed so we do not know what the problem is. Joni stated, I appreciate what you do but when staff is stressed it builds animosity with officers and between departments. You as governing bodies do not know about it until we make you aware of it. County Chairman Blake asked, what do we need to do? Joni stated, wait until you have time to address the discussion. County Chairman Blake stated, so if we are not going to discuss item, just leave it off agenda. Joni stated, it requires planning that needs to take place to move forward. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, in any community people talk, whether they know the facts or not. Please teach your people that they should not listen and buy into gossip. Invite the public to our meetings, they will not come because it is easier to continue doing what they are doing. Our responsibility is not only to discuss the issue and weigh the pros and cons but also to cut down coffee talk. Please feel free to talk to your commissioners. It is difficult to keep people from talking and making stuff up, they need to be encouraged to come to commission. Trevor stated, we just want you to know the struggles we face with staff. We are trying to give them solace. Commissioner Fairbanks stated, it is unfortunate but it is a human characteristic.
- Future Agenda Items and Meeting Schedule – No discussion on this matter.
ADJOURNMENT WAS HAD ON A MOTION Commissioner Garcia seconded by Commissioner Fairbanks. Motion carried by unanimous VOTE, meeting Adjourned at 8:35 a.m.
ATTEST: Brian Linin, Mayor
Mary P. Volk, City Clerk