Allen Dinkel, City Manager
Some weeks as I sit down to write this report, I have an idea or two I want to convey, but then there are weeks when it may be best to cover different topics and events that occurred during the week. So, buckle-up and we will cruise through a number topics.
The newly named Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals met for their first meeting. This group of 5 residents were appointed recently by the City Commission after the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) was dissolved upon the request of Geary County. The newly formed group will handle the zoning issues strictly within the City limits. Their next meeting will be on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, when they will have some cases to address. On any planning and zoning change or variance request a public hearing must be held. This requires a legal notice in the official City newspaper at least 20 days before the hearing, along with letters being mailed to other property owners within 200 feet of the parcel. Any decision made by the Planning Commission is a recommendation that is then addressed by the City Commission. Issues handled by the Board of Zoning Appeals, which would be variances and Conditional Use Permits are final actions as the ordinance allows this.
A couple of days ago I had a visit from a resident who was concerned about the property adjacent to where he lives. He showed me pictures of items that are scattered around the outside of the neighboring house. Since he had called to get an appointment an appointment with me, Ariana, one of the administrative assistants had contacted the Codes Department and I was able to show this gentleman that the process had started. In this case the “wheels” roll slowly as a certified letter must be sent to the property owner of record. In this case we have identified the owner no longer lives there and is in an assistant living facility. Unfortunately, it appears the family member that lives at that address is ignoring the letters and the City’s “hands are tied” as the codes staff can’t act until the letter is returned from the post office. In this case it has taken a number of months. The good part is that the letter has now been returned and action can begin. The process that is used in spelled out in Kansas State Statue and ultimately we have to make every effort to notify the property as any costs are assessed to them. If the bill is not paid it is then assessed to the property taxes.
Unfortunately, a few days ago there was a fatal accident in the community. The person who lived near the location of accident called 911 when he was awoken by the noise and then headed to the scene. He commented to me how was impressed by the speed that the EMS crew, which is the City’s Fire Department arrived and the professionalism that was shown. Fire and EMS is one of those departments that we want well-staffed, well-trained, and well-equipped as we never know the moment that they have to jump into action and serve any one of us. To this however does take our tax dollars.
City Finance Director Lindsay Miller looked at the City finances this week as near the year end to see if any budget amendments must be mace. In certain funds a budget amendment may be needed to create adequate budget authority if expenses are higher than we had budgeted 18 or so months ago. Budget amendments only increase spending authority and does not affect taxes as revenue was also higher. I don’t like to have budget amendments, but they do occur at times. As we looked back over the year, we both agreed it has been a good financial year for the City. It is essential to have a strong “cash carryover” at the end of the year as it is the basis of the budget for the next year.
Every other week I met with the Department heads and Managers, so we all know what is happening in the City organization. This helps to keep us all on the “Same Page” and we are aware of all that is happening. Cole, the manager at the Rolling Meadows
Golf Course, told us that the Chemical and fertilizer needed at the course in 2024 had been “locked” in. He said the availability of products has improved and cost were down a bit or has little or no increase. A little different than a year ago.
Vanessa Gray, the Animal Shelter Manager, told us with issues with the large number of animals that the shelter is taking in. She relayed a case of a person who wanted to surrender an animal at the shelter, and we could not take it. However, later the animal was founded abandoned and is now in the shelter. Of course, these issues are investigated. The animal shelter is a facility that needs to be addressed and at some time in the near future a capital expenditure has to be made so we can adequately provide service to the community.
Okay, I did not stick to one topic this week, but hopefully we have shared to you more of the different facets of the day-to-day operation of your City.
Have a great Thanksgiving.