April 6, 2020 Commission Minutes
GOODLAND CITY COMMISSION
April 6, 2020 5:00 P.M.
Mayor John Garcia called the meeting to order with Vice-Mayor Aaron Thompson, Commissioner Jay Dee Brumbaugh, Commissioner J. J. Howard and Commissioner Gary Farris responding to roll call.
Also present were Joshua Jordan – IT Director and Andrew Finzen – City Manager.
Present remotely were Rich Simon – Director of Public Works and Mary Volk – City Clerk.
Mayor Garcia led Pledge of Allegiance
- 03/16/20 Commission Meeting Minutes
- Appropriation Ordinances: 2020-07, 2020-07A, 2020-07B, 2020-P07A and 2020-P07B
- Appointment of Terry Leonhart to the Cemetery Advisory Board
ON A MOTION by Vice-Mayor Thompson to approve Consent Agenda seconded by Commissioner Howard. MOTION carried on a VOTE of 5-0.
ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS
- Resolution 1563: COVID-19 Changes to Public Meetings – Andrew stated, resolution outlines current situation with City Commission and meetings going forward to ensure maintain open meetings and public safety and welfare for everyone involved. Resolution goes into effect upon passage and remains effective until August 4, 2020. Most cities are going to similar format. Public comment will not be open at meeting but it is not required. All actions in resolution are consistent with the Kansas Open Meetings Act. ON A MOTION by Vice-Mayor Thompson to approve Resolution 1563: COVID-19 Changes to Public Meetings seconded by Commissioner Brumbaugh. MOTION carried on a VOTE of 5-0.
- Contract with EBH for Engineering Services: Airport Taxiway B Reconstruction Project – Andrew stated, contract has been reviewed and approved by legal. As a reminder, contract is $20,000 for design engineering of both phases of Taxiway B. We are only approved for construction of Phase 1 on taxiway so those services are at-cost plus $3,000. Contract has language for construction services of both services but will only incur construction costs for Phase 1 of project at this time. ON A MOTION by Commissioner Brumbaugh to approve the contract with EBH for Engineering Services: Airport Taxiway B Reconstruction Project seconded by Vice-Mayor Thompson. MOTION carried on a VOTE of 5-0.
- COVID-19 Planning: Public Parks – Andrew stated, seeking Commission input on this item as city’s across the state are beginning to address whether public parks remain open. People have desire to be outside but we need to protect the public and not encourage gatherings, especially with children on playground equipment which could be a germ factory. Cities are going about it different ways. Do you feel there is a need to address parks at this time? Do you want to close them off to public access, there are many ways to go about it. This would include the public parks, ball parks, cemetery, Steever Water Park, Dog Park and walking trail. We have many public spaces and if you feel need to take action what is the nature of action. Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, that is a tough question, want people to have ability to get out but germs collect. Mayor Garcia stated, much of the information I have received from the State indicates many municipalities have shut the parks down but give people the ability to walk around. It seems children on equipment could pass on virus. I have driven around and have not seen many people using the parks. I feel may not be a bad idea for the safety of the children depending on how this monster proceeds. We can rescind order of closing the equipment depending on information from State. Commissioner Howard stated, we may need to keep eye on the parks, if they become too crowded then we can act on it. Commissioner Farris stated, we have to watch the equipment and benches with how the virus spreads. Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, we have to be responsible for ourselves; right now most people are doing a good job. Maybe can have police on duty drive by the parks, if they are congregating report it to commission to take another step. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, I feel if there is not a problem we just need to get the word out to discourage use of equipment and keep an eye on it. Mayor Garcia stated, we need to remember executive order from Governor states we cannot have groups of ten or more. I feel we are doing alright with that number if we can have police monitor the situation. Andrew stated, you are touching important points. We do not want to be heavy handed about it, but want to make sure people are informed. Maybe we can put signs up at playground to discourage use as the equipment is not sanitized regularly. Proceed at your own risk. I do not think prohibiting it will be enforceable for us to do. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, the playground equipment is like a door handle, everyone is touching but we cannot prohibit. We need to enforce washing hands and not touching face. Mayor Garcia great point using public information, putting out signs and monitor situation.
- COVID-19 Planning: Code Enforcement, Bus Stops – Andrew stated, couple items involving code enforcement that Vice-Mayor Thompson discussed and how City handles. Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, I had an individual contact me about someone working on their tractor in town when not allowed to do commercial work like that in City limits. I feel we need to have flexibility right now for people trying to make a living. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, during this time I think we need to extend everyone some tremendous grace with everyone’s freedom being limited. They are trying to make ends meet and trying to find something to do. We have to allow some leniency. Commissioner Howard stated, I agree with Commissioner Brumbaugh. On the greyhound bus, I have had many people ask when we were going to limit them stopping in Goodland. Commissioner Farris stated, they stop at McDonalds and many head to Walmart. Andrew stated, we have previously discussed this at the Commission level. The concern started with the hospital having the ability to respond to the nature of the patient brought in. The nature of the bus presents challenges for the hospital. Commissioner Farris stated, this virus is a whole different ball game. Commissioner Howard stated, I agree, people riding the bus come from either direction and people may not know they are carrying the virus. Can we suspend the stop temporarily then bring back the ability to stop when this has passed. I agree it brings a lot of revenue to McDonalds and tax money to our community. Andrew stated, the issue with that is it is not our right or ability to stop the bus from stopping at McDonalds due to a mutual consent of the owner and Greyhound Company. The City does not have right to say what kind of customers are allowed on your property. The greyhound is public transportation which is exempted from Governor Order, both with ten person gathering and stay at home order. They are free to continue. Biggest thing that constrains us is they are not stopping on a public street but at a private business that wants them to stop. I have spoken with our legal counsel and the League of Kansas Municipalities about issue and if we try to stop them we are infringing on interstate commerce by trying to regulate. It is not that the City does not have a role to play in discussion but people tend to turn to the City to do something when the City is not the answer to the problem. People that have problems with the bus stopping need to be having a conversation with the McDonalds owner. The City does not have ability to fix this problem. Not the perfect answer for public but City is constrained in what City can do. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, there were some misunderstandings with people before who thought that City could stop the bus but it is up to the owner and he did not change his mind in allowing the bus to stop in Goodland. Now the bus is stopping and people cannot go inside so they scatter. It is a safety issue with people on bus and we are trying to be diligent in protecting Goodland but this disrupts what we are doing. The bus goes coast to coast right through Goodland. It is frustrating I understand but it comes down to the owner and I think it is crazy during this time because it spreads so easy and fast. It is a dead end for the City and people need to talk to the business owner. Commissioner Howard stated, I do not understand why anyone would want to be confined and ride the bus during this time. Mayor Garcia stated, it is difficult because we do not know what is required to get on the bus. I have talked to business management and now they are only allowing two people in at time to get order and rotate out, so they have taken some measures. Understand neighboring businesses are not allowing anyone inside the business. We have a frequent flow of people on the highways that you cannot control, but there is nothing legally we can do about it if owner allows them to stop. Andrew stated, when this came up previously there was a rumor that other City’s passed an ordinance that stopped the bus from stopping in their City. It was a rumor, as there were incidents in Colby and Burlington where the owner told the bus they were not allowed to stop there anymore. The City did not get involved. It was up to property owner who had enough and no other business owners allowed them to stop. This is a problem we cannot solve on our own, not saying we do not have a role to play in issue. Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, the individual that contacted me was for a neighboring business and has reported that she has increased theft and other issues from people on bus. So even though McDonalds is not having an issue the neighbors are. I know our officers are spread thin but can we have officers be in area when bus stops to discourage incidents. Andrew stated, we have a responsive force out there but we cannot be security for private business. We try to have presence out in area but cannot guarantee they will be out there every time the bus stops. Mayor Garcia asked, would that not be for management address similar to McDonalds in limiting numbers. Vice-Mayor Thomson stated, she indicated this has been an ongoing issue before the virus because of the people on bus. She cannot stop the bus from coming and cannot stop the people from coming in the business. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, I was contacted previously by another business owner with concerns. Mayor Garcia stated, we want citizens to know our hands are tied, it is an issue we cannot enforce; best we can do is continue to visit with property owner and encourage people to do the same to try to distance this virus. Andrew stated, I agree it needs to be directed to owner.
- COVID-19 Planning: Joint City-County Commission Meeting – Andrew stated, joint meeting with County is scheduled for April 20th, do we still want to plan on having meeting? If so I need to know what you want on agenda. Mayor Garcia stated, I had one contact me that they are still open to it. We can do what we are doing right now to limit numbers in meeting, but need to check with them. I feel it is imperative we keep meeting to keep communication open. Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, if we can make it happen legally I am in favor of meeting. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, what is time of meeting? Andrew stated, will be at 5:00 at the beginning of our meeting. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, we need to keep it moving forward as much as able. Andrew asked, were there particular items you want on the agenda? Mayor Garcia stated, I believe we need to discuss CVB/ED/Chamber of Commerce. They were trying to have a sales tax issue on it. You might check with them on items also. Vice-Mayor Thompson asked, what is status of fire consolidation? Andrew stated, I have not heard any progress; I believe it is still with County Attorney but this will be on the agenda. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, we do not have to spend a lot of time on it but just make sure we are communicating about what is being done with virus and that everyone is on same page. Mayor Garcia stated, that is a good point, we have to keep under Governor Order and be proactive with what we do. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, just ensure not missing something between City and County and that we are working together. Even if half the work force goes down we cross train between employees if need to. Need to plan for the worse with backup plans to make sure covered.
- City Manager – 1. I emailed a memo outlining what is going on with COVID-19. Staff has moved to two shifts with intent to comply stay at home order and guaranteeing continuity of services. By breaking into shifts if we have to isolate a team still have staff to continue services with the exception of the police who are already on shift work and fire because they are volunteers. This approach is commonly happening in cities across the state and I would assume the country. There are many ways to go about it. Everyone is trying to make decisions based on information we have. Vice-Mayor Thompson asked, with alternating work days are people getting hours in? Andrew stated, we are paying them for their off days as they are essentially on call with the City. They are at home working, it is not vacation time. We have had to call in staff for issues since we began shift work. I have stressed to the employees that they are fortunate to have a government job because they are essential services, but they also have to be able to step up to assist on a higher level at any time. People are on edge now, I do not want to think about if they had power go out or there is no water. Staff has inherently put themselves at a higher level of risk but it is required at this time. Mayor Garcia asked, running shifts for power also? Andrew stated, yes all departments but police. Mayor Garcia stated, we have to make sure our crews can deliver power to our citizens at all costs. We need to make sure our employees protect the two crews to ensure if one crew is exposed we can cover the isolation period. Andrew stated, the last thing done every day is sanitize all work stations and equipment touched to ensure ready for operation the following day. We have cut back on part time employees to help reduce costs. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, in the event something happened with one crew and they have to be off, the expectation is they will be on duty fourteen days in a row and will have to plow through time. Andrew stated, yes we have to have people step up at a time like this and vacation time is not getting approved. Staff knows they have to be available at all times. We may have to break staff up more, a lot of this is fluid and we make decisions based on issue at hand at that time. It is important to have a plan in place but have to be flexible and deal with circumstances as they arise. As of now the facilities closed to the public are City Office, Welcome Center, Museum, Power Plant, Water Treatment Plant and Sewer Plant, then the Wolak Building was closed under the direction of Sherman County. Facilities open as of now are airport, police station, cemetery and all city parks. Municipal Court gets back to our code enforcement, we are doing a good job of being lenient and not pursuing actions on the public now. Even if we wanted to, we are not holding court now so there is no back end enforcement. Court is scheduled nest for June 10th. We have stopped Public Transportation until further notice. We have stopped solicitor and peddler licenses for people outside the county coming in and going door to door. Spring cleanup week in April is cancelled, will look later at rescheduling. As a result of the executive order, we are not disconnecting utility non-pays unless there is a health or safety issue. Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, have you seen numbers increase for non-pays? Andrew stated, absolutely non-pays are up, not a lot but more than an average month and we anticipate it will increase. Commissioner Howard asked, how will they catch up on bills, will it be over more billing cycles? Andrew stated, we are working with people but encouraging them to pay what they can. We are not disconnecting and waiving late fees but the bill will come due. If they cannot pay entire bill we encourage them to pay something to help down the road. We are trying to help people get through this and being compassionate. Vice-Mayor Thompson stated, I feel like we need to come up with a plan to let people know how we are going to work with them going forward. Commissioner Brumbaugh asked, is there a process you use for this or it case by case basis? Andrew stated, we work with people for payment plans. If we need to have a discussion for COVID-19 we can, but we do work with people. Commissioner Brumbaugh stated, hopefully the number will not get out of control. We need people that can pay their bill now to pay as we still have to have revenue source to operate and for emergency purchases the City needs to make. It has to be a balancing act. It is not going to be free money as when the order is lifted we will be addressing these accounts. Mayor Garcia stated, we will have to keep on top of it because it will affect the budget down the road and most likely in the budget process. I have been reading up on how this is affecting people across the state and that they are taking extreme measures on their budgets to handle shortfall. Our sales tax revenue will go down. Andrew stated, sales tax dispersed from State is a couple months behind but this will impact our budget. Recent call with State officials is to anticipate a decline of 25% in sales tax, which includes the City, School, County and State sales tax. We anticipate the State will be trying to claim every dollar they can which affects grant funding. This last week I spoke with department heads to cut spending where can immediately in anticipation of shortfall. The State anticipates we will first see an increase in sales tax because of the spending but will see a plummet in May or June distributions. That is reason we cut back on part time help and other expenses we can control now. There will be projects and services we will not be able to complete this year. Mayor Garcia stated, the Governor is saying we will see a hit in April. 2. We did our final walk through on Topside Trail today. There are a few panels cracking which we marked to have them replaced. Overall we are satisfied with project which is close to being closed out. 3. On the Street project they are doing curb and gutter on Cherry Street and working on 15th Street. 4. Motel 7 demolition is nearly complete. 5. This is trial run to stream commission meeting. I am sure it is not perfect, will work on issues to make improvements to be transparent.
Vice-Mayor Thompson – 1. Thank everyone for working hard, especially you Andrew staying on top of everything. You are doing a good job. 2. On the topic of camera equipment, did we ever get quotes on equipment to video tape meetings? Josh stated, not yet, I have been working on server issues with our main City server that houses utility billing and operations, which is a priority. All last week I worked on this system using a lot of personal equipment to get it to this point. I am working on it, but not actively at this point.
Commissioner Brumbaugh – 1. No Report.
Commissioner Howard – 1. Thank all employees for their work during this difficult time. Please stay safe.
Commissioner Farris – 1. The pavement is gone on the intersection one block east of Kansas on Third Street.
- Mayor – 1. I want to reassure tax payer’s that the commission will make every effort to make decisions in the best interest and safety of our tax payers. There have been a lot of changes but we are making decisions as things happen.
- Executive Session – Under the authority of KSA 75-4319(b)(1) for personnel matters for nonelected personnel – Mayor Garcia made a motion at 6:05 p.m. to recess into executive session under authority of K.S.A.75-4319 (b)(1) for personnel matters for nonelected personnelnot to exceed thirty minutes. I request only the Commission be present. Vice-Mayor Thompson seconded the motion. MOTION carried by a VOTE of 5-0. Meeting resumed at 6:35 p.m. Mayor Garcia made a second motion at 6:36 p.m. to recess into executive session under authority of K.S.A.75-4319 (b)(1) for personnel matters for nonelected personnelnot to exceed fifteen minutes. I request only the Commission be present. Commissioner Howard seconded the motion. MOTION carried by a VOTE of 5-0. Meeting resumed at 6:51 p.m. Mayor Garcia made a third motion at 6:53 p.m. to recess into executive session under authority of K.S.A.75-4319 (b)(1) for personnel matters for nonelected personnelnot to exceed forty-five minutes. I request the Commission and City Manager be present. Commissioner Howard seconded the motion. MOTION carried by a VOTE of 5-0. Meeting resumed at 7:38 p.m. Mayor Garcia made a fourth motion at 7:38 p.m. to recess into executive session under authority of K.S.A.75-4319 (b)(1) for personnel matters for nonelected personnelnot to exceed thirty minutes. I request the Commission and City Manager be present. Commissioner Howard seconded the motion. MOTION carried by a VOTE of 5-0. Meeting resumed at 8:08 p.m.
ADJOURNMENT WAS HAD ON A MOTION Commissioner Brumbaugh seconded by Commissioner Howard. Motion carried by unanimous VOTE, meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m. Next meeting is scheduled for April 20th.
ATTEST: John Garcia, Mayor
Mary P. Volk, City Clerk