Allen Dinkel, City Manager
Some weeks as I sit down to write this report I have an idea or two that I want to convey, but then there are weeks when it may be better to cover different topics and events that happened during the week . So, buckle up and we’ll cover a number of topics.
The new Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals gathered for their first meeting. This group of 5 residents was recently appointed by the City Commission after the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) was dissolved at the request of Geary County. The newly formed group will handle zoning issues strictly within city limits. Their next meeting will take place on Tuesday January 9, 2024, where they will have a few issues to discuss. For any request for modification or exemption in matters of town planning and zoning, a public hearing must be held. This requires a legal notice in the city’s official newspaper at least 20 days before the hearing, as well as letters mailed to other property owners within 200 feet of the parcel. Any decision made by the planning commission constitutes a recommendation which is then processed by the municipal commission. The issues handled by the Board of Zoning Appeals, which would be variances and conditional use permits, are final actions to the extent permitted by the ordinance.
A few days ago, I received a visit from a resident who was concerned about the property adjacent to where he lives. He showed me photos of items scattered outside the house next door. Since he had called to arrange 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 begun. In this case, the “wheels” roll slowly because a certified letter must be sent to the registered landowner. In this case, we have identified that the owner no longer lives there and is in a residence for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, it appears that the family member who lives at this address is ignoring the letters and the City’s “hands are tied” as codes staff cannot take action until the letter is returned from the post office . In this case, it took several months. The positive thing is that the letter has now been returned and action can begin. The process used is outlined in the Kansas State Statue and ultimately we must make every effort to notify the property when costs are charged to them. If the bill is not paid, it is then charged to property taxes.
Unfortunately, a few days ago a fatal accident occurred in the community. The person who lived near the accident site called 911 when they were awakened by the noise and then went to the scene. He told me how impressed he was with how quickly the EMS team, which is the city’s fire department, arrived and the professionalism they showed. Fire and emergency services are one of those services that we want adequately staffed, well trained and well equipped, because we never know when they need to spring into action and serve each and every one of us. We. But that’s what our tax money goes to.
City Finance Director Lindsay Miller reviewed the city’s finances this week, as the end of the year approaches, to see if any budget amendments need to be made. In some funds, a budget amendment may be necessary to create adequate budget authority if spending is higher than we budgeted approximately 18 months ago. Budget amendments only increase spending power and do not affect taxes since revenues are also higher. I don’t like budget amendments, but they happen sometimes. Looking back on the past year, we both agreed that it was a good financial year for the City. It is essential to have a large “cash carryover” at the end of the year because it is the basis of the following year’s budget.
Every two weeks, I meet with department heads and managers, so that we all know what is happening in the City’s organization. This helps us all stay on the “same page” and are aware of everything that’s going on. Cole, the manager of Rolling Meadows
Golf Course, told us that chemicals and fertilizers needed for the course in 2024 have been “blocked”. He said product availability has improved and costs have fallen slightly or increased little or not at all. A little different from a year ago.
Vanessa Gray, the manager of the animal shelter, told us about problems related to the large number of animals that the shelter takes in. She recounted the case of a person who wanted to return an animal to the shelter, and we could not accept it. However, later the animal was found abandoned and is now in the shelter. Of course, these questions are being studied. The animal shelter is a facility that needs repair and in the near future a capital expenditure will need to be made so that we can provide adequate service to the community.
Okay, I didn’t limit myself to just one topic this week, but I hope we shared more with you about the different facets of the daily functioning of your City.
Have a great Thanksgiving.