CITY COUNCIL MEETING
MONDAY NOVEMBER 29, 2004
PRESENT: Mayor Wayne Beer
Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi
Councilman Bill Cross
Councilman Les Smith
Councilman Joe Evans
City Manager Kirk Davis
City Counselor David Ramsay
City Clerk Cathy Swenson
Mayor Wayne Beer opened the Regular November 29, 2004, City Council Meeting at
7:30 PM in the
Item 3. on the Agenda. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.
Mayor Wayne Beer led the Pledge of Allegiance, in which all joined.
Item 4. on the Agenda. APPROVAL OF THE REGULAR NOVEMBER 22, 2004 CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES.
Councilman Bill Cross moved to approve the Regular November 22, 2004, City Council Meeting Minutes as presented. Councilman Les Smith seconded the motion.
The vote: “Aye” – Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, and Mayor Wayne Beer. “Abstain” – Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi and Councilman Joe Evans (3-0-2).
Mayor Beer explained for the audience that the last City Council meeting was a special circumstance meeting, which Councilmen Rudi and Evans were unable to attend, which is why they have abstained from voting on the minutes of that meeting.
Item 5. on the Agenda. APPROVAL OF LIMITED
ONE DAY BEER & WINE LICENSE to
Mayor Wayne Beer explained this application has been withdrawn at the request of the applicant.
Item 6. on the Agenda. PRESENTATION FROM
City Manager Davis began by saying it was his pleasure to introduce a proposal that is historical, very progressive, and reflects the community’s vision and a future for our City. It is a vision that deals with the basic infrastructure of our City as well as a cultural fabric that can be interwoven into our community. It is a bold statement about our future.
Jean Moore, Implementation Co-Chair for
Ms. Moore reported the result from the efforts of
Don Horton, Implementation Co-Chair for Gladstone on the Move, reported the Gladstone on the Move committee worked seriously at engaging the public, and forming groups to work together to focus not only on our City issues, but also on the regional issues as they influence our City.
Mr. Horton said this effort also sought to bring forth new leaders with an emphasis on Open Government. In turn, this effort aimed toward improved communication to and from the citizens of the community.
Ms. Moore stated an essential component of the Gladstone on the Move Vision Statement, presents the view of Gladstone as a highly desirable residential and business location. The Business and Economic Development key performance area identified the need for comprehensive commercial redevelopment in the city, including the design and implementation of a commercial and residential land use plan and the revitalization of existing business areas.
Mr. Horton reported the second item, Residential Redevelopment, seeks to bring substandard areas up to par by using developers’ plans and the work of groups like Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
Mr. Horton stated a third item, Quality Housing Codes, is hoped to be achieved by the enforcement of the City codes currently in place, through standards of code enforcement, and by improving and enhancing codes as necessary to maintain a pleasant, viable and healthy community.
Mr. Horton reported that regarding a fourth item, Enhanced Public Safety, the Gladstone on the Move committee supports the enhancement of the Public Safety Department and improvement of ambulance services. Mr. Horton stated, last but not least, the Committee seeks the improvement of our neighborhoods with additional lighting to improve safety and deter crime, and additional sidewalks to enhance the health of our citizens.
Ms. Moore reported the development of Village Centers became a central focus for the Gladstone on the Move vision. This was an idea that continually generated interest and enthusiasm from the citizen participants. The vision for this concept is one or more areas of the City that are pedestrian friendly, offer a mix of retail, residential, office space, entertainment and dining opportunities and are accessible by city transit options. These busy, vibrant areas create an identity for the City. They create excitement; they become a destination for area residents and visitors alike, and establish a sense of place in our community.
Mr. Horton stated the recommendations from the Gladstone on the Move committee include a new community center. The committee views this facility as a link to draw the entire community into the civic center of our City. Additional streetlights and sidewalks will improve the safety of our citizens, and the improvement of neighborhood services will improve neighborhoods and help citizens with their property.
Ms. Moore said other recommendations include the improvement and enhancement of the commercial areas of the City, including the development of Village Centers and the creation of a real “downtown” destination area, along with the revitalization of existing commercial spaces, and finally the exploration and development of public transit opportunities for Gladstone citizens
Ms. Moore concluded by introducing Sheila Lillis, Director of Parks and Recreation, to further explain the Gladstone on the Move committee’s recommendation for the development of a community center and to present some ideas about the proposed plan.
Director Lillis continued by saying that in August 2004, the Gladstone on the Move final report to City Council recommended that a community center be included in the Phase 1-core improvements. City staff then enlisted the services of Ballard * King to review and update the 1999 feasibility study.
An additional piece of this proposed structure includes significant improvements to the Municipal Pool. These improvements are based upon the 2003 Municipal Pool Master Plan. Discussion was held by the Gladstone on the Move Committee regarding budget parameters for the construction and operating costs of a community center, prioritization of facility and program components, development of phased site and facility plans, and facility benchmark analysis to other community centers in our neighboring communities, as well as Missouri at large. Another component discussed was an update to operations pro-forma.
Director Lillis continued by saying the proposed community center facility program amenities would include public areas, a lobby, exhibit areas, on-site child care, and a conference center large enough to handle 250 people that could be broken down to two rooms. Other amenities would be a kitchen with storage, a wellness and fitness area, including cardiovascular aerobics and a walking track, a multipurpose gym with two basketball courts, and support areas, which include locker rooms and storage space. An administration office is also included in the proposed amenities.
Director Lillis reported the proposed community center would be approximately $6.3 million, with the municipal pool improvements estimated at approximately $1 million. The total estimated cost is $7.3 million. Director Lillis pointed out the amenities of the proposed community center on the PowerPoint slides being shown to the audience. Director Lillis said there is something for everyone, from toddlers to senior citizens, in this facility.
Director Lillis concluded by saying this proposed community center has also received the unanimous recommendation from our Parks and Recreation Advisory Board at their November 16, 2004 meeting. Staff awaits the challenge and looks forwards to an indoor facility for our residents and to expand the scope of our current programs and services.
Director Lillis introduced Director of Public Safety Bill Adamo.
Director Adamo began by saying the Gladstone on the Move committee recognized a very important need in our community, which is an expanded ambulance service. The initial price tag for this service is $600,000. The $600,000 includes $50,000 in salary and benefits for six firefighter/paramedics for a total of $300,000. A Type 3 ambulance, which is a top of the line vehicle, which we have and operate, carries a price tag of approximately $150,000. The balance of $150,000 left from the $600,000 will be spent on maintaining a third ambulance, equipment, supplies, uniforms, and training.
Director Adamo reported the City currently has two ambulances in stock, and the proposal is to purchase another one. The City has to have a third ambulance in backup. The ambulance will have to be maintained, and the $150,000 will provide that maintenance. That money will also be going towards the purchase of equipment for the new ambulance, upgrades on the third ambulance and the second ambulance in supply, medication soft goods, and any other supplies associated with that ambulance service. Currently the budget for the operation that is run today is approximately $40,000 for supplies and equipment, and that will need to be increased for the expanded ambulance service. The $150,000 will be well used and will be spent for maintenance of the third ambulance.
Director Adamo pointed out on the Population Age Trend PowerPoint slide that in 1980, Gladstone citizens who were age 55 and over made up 15.3 percent of Gladstone’s entire population. In 1990 the percentage of people age 55 and over was 19.7 percent; in 2000 the number of people age 55 and over is 27 percent of Gladstone’s entire population.
Director Adamo continued by saying Public Safety was established in 1968, when the City combined police and fire services to form the Public Safety Department. At that time an ambulance was operated and was manned by the Public Safety Department. There were several competing ambulance services in this area north of the river that also provided ambulance services and served as our backup in that capacity. Director Adamo said, without having exact numbers in his head, our City ran approximately 1,550 ambulance calls in the year 2003. In 1968 and 1969, he believed the City ran approximately 200 ambulance calls per year, and when he began working for Gladstone in 1971, approximately one or two ambulance calls were run per week. There were not that many calls in our City, but as the population ages, those calls continue to increase. Our population has grown, and many things are occurring in our community.
Director Adamo said in 1986, Gladstone contracted with MAST (Metropolitan Services Trust) to provide ambulance services for our community and Public Safety backed away from the service. MAST responded to all calls for emergency services and non-emergency transports. What the City unfortunately experienced were 20 to 40 minute delays on not just minor calls, but on heart attacks, strokes, severe trauma, and motor vehicle accidents for which we needed paramedics quickly and we were not getting them. In 1988, the vote of the public reinstated the ambulance service, and it was going to be emergency and non-emergency transport. We would transport the emergencies; MAST would serve as our second ambulance backup for an emergency call, and they would do non-emergency transports. MAST was here for us and made the second calls for emergencies. They did all the emergency and non-emergency transports, when they were called.
Director Adamo explained in July 2003, he was notified by Jason White of MAST, that when a critical level of only seven ambulances is reached in the Kansas City, Missouri service area, they would not respond to our community. Director Adamo stated Mr. White kept his word and our City did not have anyone to help us, and we relied on mutual aid from Claycomo, North Kansas City, and Liberty. Claycomo in particular deserves a pat on the back because they have one ambulance. When our City had an ambulance call for a second ambulance, Claycomo sent us their only ambulance. We realized we could not continue that. MAST was responding when available, but we know from reports that response would be dwindling more and more. There was about a 30 percent reduction in their emergency and non-emergency responses. We could not get them to transport emergency calls and they were not coming out for non-emergency calls.
Director Adamo said in the past, we would stand by with a patient for non-emergency transport, such as a broken arm. MAST told us in July 2003 they will transport that non-emergency broken arm patient, but it might be 45 minutes to an hour. That leaves us with the decision as to whether to stay with the patient, (because once we have responded, they are our patient until they are transported to a provider), or do we take them to a hospital. The decision was made that for a 15-minute drive to a hospital, we transport non-emergencies. We had no choice. In September 2003, MAST is not there. They are no longer providing support and we could not count on them. Director Adamo said here is the critical issue – on duty fire personnel were staffing the second ambulance, and we continue to do that to this day. When we staff that second ambulance for emergency transport with fire personnel, we are reducing our fire strength, and we have no option for a major fire event - we have to rely on mutual aid agreements. Primarily our main call is to the City of Kansas City Fire Department, who is very responsive. We have a very good agreement and relationship with them, but they are becoming our provider once we are gone on that second call.
Director Adamo continued by saying the Ambulance Call Trend shows the ambulance calls in 2003 at around 1,550 calls. In 1994, there were approximately 1,150 or 1,160 calls. Ambulance calls are going up steadily, and there is no reason not to think this will continue. This is the trend and is documented in Public Safety’s files. Director Adamo said our average response time in our City is 5.5 minutes. With the new Fire Station opened on North Oak Trafficway, Director Adamo said he suspects when a study is done in 6 to 8 months, that response time will go down from 5.5 minutes. Our City is running ambulances out of both stations, which is reducing our response time to different sections of the community. It is a balanced coverage now between all areas of service for Fire/EMS.
Director Adamo stated that MAST will contract with our City to run a second ambulance call for a fee established by their Board, and MAST will tell us, and has told Director Adamo, that they will not guarantee a response time under 12 minutes. In critical calls, such as a stroke, heart attack, trauma, electrocution, or anything critical for a child or adult, response needs to be there more quickly than 12 minutes. Our City is doing this, but we are taking from the Fire Division to staff the second ambulance.
City Manager Davis provided concluding remarks for the presentation. City Manager Davis thanked all the presenters, the leadership of Gladstone on the Move, and all the people in the audience who participated in this visionary product and process. City Manager Davis offered his appreciation and respect for the hours of dedicated service and leadership they have provided.
City Manager Davis addressed City Council members by saying they have heard the ambulance issue before and the details of the community center and the presentation from Gladstone on the Move, so the presentation tonight did not go into all the details, but the presenters and Staff will be happy to answer any questions. Staff wanted to provide an overview that pointed out critical points, and yet was adequate in presenting the proposal to allow for a decision tonight from City Council.
City Manager Davis stated City Council members have heard from our presenters the request for basic infrastructure planning, such as more streetlights and sidewalks that will enhance our future and the viability of our neighborhoods. You have heard of the desire for a better quality of life and the needs of our youth and older adults. Many of the needs can be addressed through recreational and cultural enhancements that can be gained from a community center. You have heard of the MAST issue and the emergency medical service trends that we must address as a community. If we desire to continue to provide the highest quality of emergency medical care, then we must expand our ambulance service. This is a basic infrastructure need as well.
City Manager Davis said as the Council is aware, we are in the process of preliminary planning for a Village Center, a commercial core. This is an investment into our community’s future. The vision that has been presented to you this evening can easily be incorporated into the Village Center vision. The Village Center should be a special place. It should represent the values of our community. It can be anchored on the east by a new, visually attractive community center that invites people into the area.
City Manager Davis stated that streetlights, streetscape, sidewalks, and transportation are all part of the developing vision of a Village Center. Quality of life, quality architecture, and entertainment opportunities are all part of the vision. The infrastructure proposed by Gladstone on the Move is consistent with the values of our community, the vision, the quality we should desire, and the Council’s goals. The future economic life of our community is at stake. Our future as a community is at stake. It takes vision and leadership to assure our standing as a desired community in which to live. It takes vision to develop quality places, meet the basic infrastructure needs of a first tier suburb, provide quality public safety services, and provide the necessary quality of life to ensure our sustainability.
City Manager Davis continued by saying the proposal before City Council this evening would certify a ballot that extends a ¼ cent sales tax for the purpose of building and operating a new community center. By extending an existing sales tax, in effect this is a no tax increase issue. It would take effect in July of 2006 at the expiration of the current Fire Sales Tax. The City has delivered on all of the promises that were made with that sales tax. The citizens who participated in Gladstone on the Move are now requesting the opportunity to build a community center through a no tax increase issue. The proposals before Council this evening will also increase the property tax by $.39 cents for the purpose of expanding the ambulance service, as well as providing the basic infrastructure and neighborhood services that were identified by Gladstone on the Move. This is the first property tax increase for the City in approximately 50 years.
City Manager thanked all of the citizens who participated in this strategic planning process – it is truly Gladstone on the Move, Progress through People. City Manager Davis said the presenters would be happy to answer any questions City Council members may have.
Mayor Beer thanked the presenters for the presentation and their efforts over the past year.
Item 7. on the Agenda. COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE.
John Rupert, 6407 North Wayne, asked how this new progress would affect the completion of the stormwater project in his area. He has been waiting 25 years for something to be done in his area, and a stormwater project is supposed to be in the budget for 2006 and 2007. Would this proposal push that project to a later date?
Mayor Beer replied he could not say absolutely that the stormwater project would not be pushed to a later date, but the stormwater projects are completely separate and are ongoing projects.
Mr. Rupert stated that every time he brings up stormwater improvements in his area, he is told there is no money. So if there is no money, how is the City going to accomplish what was proposed tonight?
Mayor Beer replied it is not a matter of not having money – it is a matter of prioritizing the money that is there. Mayor Beer stated City Manager Davis has some information regarding Mr. Rupert’s concerns.
Mr. Rupert said he spent over $5,000 to have his basement wall reinforced. His next-door neighbor spent more than that because he had not installed drain tiles. The third house in his neighborhood that needs repairs, won’t receive those repairs, as it is owned by an out of state owner.
City Manager Davis reported that Mr. Rupert has an issue with underground water drainage. It is not caused by surface drainage. However, he also is going to benefit from a stormwater project that was in the Stormwater Master Plan. Tonight’s proposal does not affect the Stormwater Master Plan or the Capital Improvements Projects funding or priorities. The project Mr. Rupert is referring to is still on schedule for the time frames he mentioned, and in fact it may be slightly sooner. Mr. Rupert has a subsurface water condition and the project in his neighborhood will deal with some surface runoff.
Mr. Rupert stated his entire block has no means to getting rid of stormwater, and it also contributes to the rusting of water pipes. Mr. Rupert said the water pipes in his house only lasted 14 years from the time it was built, which is way too short of time. His neighbor across the street just replaced his water pipes two years ago. Mr. Rupert continued by saying his gas line rusted in 1985 and he replaced it. If there were improved drainage, things would be better. Mr. Rupert said he has dug up his driveway three times because the pipes are lying in water or at least wet ground the biggest part of the time.
Mayor Beer informed Mr. Rupert that his project is on the books, and the City is working on it. Mayor Beer thanked Mr. Rupert for his time.
Dennis Daly, 2309 NE 59th Street, began by saying the Mayor said it best when he said we need to prioritize. A new City community center is a nice idea. The City market is a nice idea. It all looks well and good on paper. Down towards the bottom of the list is the ambulance and fire service. Mr. Daly said because of recent events that happened to him, he thinks the ambulance and fire service should be moved to the top of the list, and should be the City’s priority. The City needs to give its citizens the basic protections for life and property that they deserve and need. Mr. Daly said he did not receive these basic protections and this is something that needs to be settled before consideration is given to a shopping area, community center, or anything. We need to properly staff our Fire Department and the ambulance service.
Mayor Beer stated that is certainly one of the top concerns.
Mr. Daly said that needs to be the top concern, and Public Safety Director Bill Adamo and City Manager Kirk Davis know what he is talking about. Mr. Daly stated before anything else is considered, the Public Safety Department needs to have the proper staffing level, so what happened to him, does not happen again in the City of Gladstone.
Lee Bussinger, 3209 NE 59 Terrace, stated he would like to support what Public Safety Director Adamo recommended for the ambulance, and feels it is a very good idea for the City, because the whiter his hair becomes, he realizes he may need an ambulance at some point. Mr. Bussinger inquired into the anticipated time element for the Gladstone Village and the community center. Mr. Bussinger said he is in favor of the community center, but would like to know the time element.
City Manager Davis replied the Request for Qualifications for the Village Center concept are scheduled to go out this December, with the Request for Proposals planned to go out in January for interested developers. Mr. Davis said he is optimistic there will be some interest in our plan from the development community. Development agreements and necessary ordinances will need to be reviewed, and a conceptual plan will have to be finalized. If all moves quickly, the timing relative to the community center and the Village Center concept should be fairly close. It will depend on the quality of the developer and their consistency with the City’s vision.
Mr. Bussinger asked if we are successful with passing the sales tax for the community center, when would the City anticipate starting on it?
Mr. Davis replied bids would go out for architects in the spring of 2006. The current ¼ cent sales tax expires in June of 2006.
Mr. Bussinger said he felt it is important for people to know the time element, because this is a progressive move for the City and he feels it is great. Mr. Bussinger stated he is very interested in seeing the Village Center come to fruit, and the community center would probably have a good bearing in drawing businesses to the Village Center.
Mark Frew, 6321 North Cleveland, asked if there is an update on the Pleasant Valley Road improvement project that was looked into about a year ago.
Mayor Beer replied our City is still on the timeline with the City of Kansas City, who drives this project.
City Manager Davis stated Bucher Willis & Ratliff is still working on the plan, which stretches from I-435 all the way to old Antioch Road. The part in Gladstone, which has been conceptually agreed to, would straighten Pleasant Valley Road and bring it a little further north from where it is now. Our City staff has had some conversations with Kansas City, and this project will require federal funding for our City and Kansas City to be able to fund. There have been some discussions in the last month with Kansas City regarding a joint application for federal monies. The next year available for funding is 2010. The plan is the same as what came from the public meetings that were held. We are very supportive of that plan. The funding for it is the difficult part.
Mary Abbott, 5905 North Broadway, stated she feels the proposal is a fine project and she participated in nearly every meeting and had subsequent meetings of the neighborhood group at her house. Ms. Abbott said she is extremely interested in what is going to happen with North Broadway. There will be all those gorgeous things with the proposal, but west of North Oak there will be nothing; North Broadway is a mess and it is dangerous. The traffic on North Broadway was at a maximum for that kind of road, and now there are more apartments coming in on 72nd Street that feed into North Broadway. There are more apartments on Old Pike Road, south of Englewood Road, that will feed into North Broadway. The traffic is getting terrible. Ms. Abbott said it was her understanding that when 72nd Street was finished, application would be made for federal funding for refurbishing North Broadway, but she has not heard a word about it.
Mr. Davis replied that with the opening of the fire station on North Oak, the second ambulance will be staffed out of that facility, which hopefully will provide better emergency services for people on the west side.
Ms. Abbott agreed she is very happy about that.
Mr. Davis said application has been made, but it has not met the sufficient criteria to receive federal funding, so that looks like a project we may have to do alone. It is a big project and requires phasing from roughly 68th Street to 64th Street, 64th Street to Englewood, and then south of Englewood Road. That phasing plan has not yet been put together. There has not been available funding identified in the Five Year Capital Improvement Plan. However, North Broadway, Old Pike Road, and Pleasant Valley Road are the three top major road projects that our City still needs to complete, for which there is no funding. Northeast 76th Street is another one, but it has received some funding. All of these will require some federal funding or grant assistance.
Mr. Davis said hopefully some of the things being discussed in the proposal will result in an investment that has a return on the future of our community, which is why this is so important. We have to generate and create economic opportunities for ourselves to increase our revenue opportunities. That is why the Village Center and Gladstone on the Move is so important. Mr. Davis said equally important to that, in his opinion, are some of the issues that have come through Gladstone on the Move and some of the work Ms. Abbott has done and other people on that committee. There are a lot of different pies that need to be pulled from to run a City like ours and to run our organization effectively. The Capital Improvement process is so vitally important. However, we have to invest in our community to get a return to our community. That is what this proposal is about, and this will hopefully help us address some of the issues that have been discussed.
Ms. Abbott inquired into the qualifications that we did not meet by the federal government.
Mr. Davis replied he did not have all the information at this time, but one critical qualification is that they are looking favorably upon joint applications, in other words roads that move from one city to another city or one state to another state, which is why Pleasant Valley Road might have a chance at federal funding, because we are looking at two communities. Mr. Davis said in the case of North Broadway, he does not believe Kansas City was interested north of 77th Street at this point in time, as it is not a high priority for them. The area south of 68th Street is all within our community. Mr. Davis stated we will keep trying and he agrees this is a road project that needs to have some priority in the Capital Improvement Plan.
Ms. Abott said North Broadway is narrow for all the traffic it has and is “an accident waiting to happen”.
Donald Harper, 1606 NE 68 Terrace, said he has lived in Gladstone over 35 years and is really excited about everything he is seeing and hearing tonight, especially the community center, which has been discussed for a long time. Mr. Harper said he is strongly convinced that the ambulance is a real necessity. The charts and census show the growing senior population and there are younger children moving into our City. All of this indicates a greater need for ambulance service. Mr. Harper said his suggestion would be to separate the property tax levy between the ambulance and the other items - $.24 cents for the ambulance and $.15 cents for the other items. This is a 72 percent increase, and it is too bad some of the increases haven’t happened over a few years in the past, where it isn’t such a big lump sum all at one time.
Mr. Harper said he has seen similar circumstances with the North Kansas City School Board failing with so much at one time, and other places as well. Mr. Harper said he didn’t wish to be pessimistic about this, but he would like to think Gladstone voters are intelligent enough to look at these as somewhat two separate issues, which should stand on their own merits. The ambulance is a totally separate issue from the sidewalks, gutters, streetlights, and other things we want to do for the City. Mr. Harper stated he would have liked to see them as two separate ballot issues, and let the citizens weigh it as they want to. It would be up to the people that are supporting it to sell it to the people of Gladstone for the vote that might be needed.
Art Hammen, 7117 North Norton, stated looking ahead on the agenda to Bills 04-45 and Bill 04-46, he sees that the suggestion is to deal with these on a Special Election on February 8, 2005. Mr. Hammen asked if there are any other Gladstone issues that would be on that ballot?
Mayor Beer replied, not at this time, and in fact the February ballot must be certified tomorrow.
Mr. Hammen asked the approximate cost of an election.
City Manager Davis replied it would be speculation.
City Clerk Cathy Swenson agreed it would be speculation, but it could be between $3,200 to $4,000. It really is difficult to say.
Mr. Hammen said the thought comes to mind that it would be fiscally prudent for the citizens of Gladstone to deal with these issues on the April 5, 2005 ballot, which is less than 60 days later.
John Rupert, 6407 North Wayne, stated he would approve the sidewalk plans, except Gladstone doesn’t do a very good job of seeing that sidewalks are kept up now. There are sidewalks that are cracked and littered. People cut their grass and leave it on the sidewalks, and other people have trees growing over the sidewalks, and in some cases you can’t walk under them. You have to bend over to get through on the sidewalks. If the City is going to do more, they need to enforce what there is now and get them up to condition where people can walk decently on them.
Councilman Les Smith stated Gladstone does have an ongoing sidewalk replacement program as part of our Capital Improvement Sales Tax program, and on a regular basis through City newsletters and through homeowner associations’ newsletters, the City frequently requests that neighbors proactively keep their sidewalks cleared and tree limbs trimmed clear of the sidewalks and so forth. It is a tough situation, but many concerns can be addressed by the neighborhood and neighbors themselves. As far as sidewalk replacement and maintenance, there is an ongoing budgeted item in the Capital Improvement Projects Program for sidewalk improvements.
Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi stated that part of what has been proposed by Gladstone on the Move is increased code enforcement, and they have several ideas and recommendations as to how to go about that. This is part of the Committee’s recommendation; it just is not spelled out tonight in detail.
Anita Newsom, 7401 North Wabash, began by saying there are several people present tonight that have had the privilege and responsibility of inhabiting the seats that City Council members now inhabit. Ms. Newsom said those who have served on City Council and the people who have been involved with the community a long time realize that we are not a large community. We are defined in a very small space, and we cannot grow and sprawl and have some of the economic opportunities that some of our large neighbors have. Our City has faced those challenges over the years as a community in a very fiscally prudent way. Things have been done in a very thoughtful way. Ms. Newsom complimented her predecessors who served on the City Council, those who served with her, and those who are serving after her, as looking at things in a very thoughtful and prudent way.
Ms. Newsom said unfortunately Gladstone, in her estimation, has reached a critical juncture where we must start looking at a very big picture, and look forward. If we do not, we will fall backward and become one of those first tier suburbs that has problems with blight and other issues that can’t be dealt with in a simple ballot issue. As was explained earlier, without sustained economic development of some sort, we are not going to have the funds or resources to supply the basic services of which we as citizens of this community have become so accustomed - the Public Safety services, the Public Works services, and the things that Parks and Recreation provide for us on a daily basis. Along with that, the quality of life that things such as the community center would bring to our community are also very vital in providing the quality of life issues that are going to bring residents to our community and encourage residents to stay and support our community.
Ms. Newsom said she has been involved with our City for a long time, and was involved with the Gladstone on the Move effort. Ms. Newsom said she feels very dearly about a community center being a very important part of the community. After her time on the City Council, she feels very dearly that we need to be very aggressive with economic development. Ms. Newsom continued by saying she has always been a strong supporter of public safety and we must provide public safety services equally to all parts of our community. Ms. Newsom encouraged these issues be put on the ballot in February, so that we can get moving forward with them as a community. This will allow the City to provide the services and the quality of life issues for the citizens of Gladstone that we have all come to know and love, and maybe we have taken for granted, because we have paid a very low price for them in the past.
Galen Neill, 6010 North Wyandotte, stated he would like to address the issue in regard to the ambulance. Mr. Neill said he experienced a situation some time ago in regard to a call that was placed in Gladstone, and the Gladstone ambulances were both tied up that evening. MAST had to be called in, and it took longer than 12 minutes for them to respond. He found out later that our ambulances were tied up at nursing facilities we have in Gladstone. Mr. Neill said he knows we have a number of nursing facilities in Gladstone, and assumes by what he has seen in some of the facilities that they keep the ambulance service pretty busy. Each and every time he has visited these facilities, he has noticed there is generally an ambulance on call or sitting there. Mr. Neill asked Director Adamo to explain the situation, as this has probably put undue pressure on his administration.
Mr. Neill said there is about a 73 percent increase in property taxes that is being discussed, and he thinks our voters in Gladstone are intelligent enough that they will look at this pretty hard, and Council should also look at this pretty hard. If the citizens think they are going to be gouged, they may vote against this increase, and he hopes Council will take this into consideration this evening.
Director Adamo stated there are three nursing home facilities in Gladstone. They are Heritage Village, the new one at Englewood and Main (Englewood Vista), and Woodbine. Woodbine is the largest facility of its type in the Midwest. As can be imagined, there are a lot of patients there. The new facility on North Main, is increasing ambulance calls for the Public Safety Department. Director Adamo said at one time, Woodbine accounted for probably 18 to 20 percent of our ambulance calls, and right now given the call volume the City is experiencing, which is 1,550 in 2003, at least 18 to 20 percent of the ambulance calls were to nursing home facilities. They are our residents and are a population to whom we must respond, and we will respond to them, but they are a percentage of our calls. They are the age 55 and over part of our population that is increasing in our City.
Councilman Smith reported City Council members did look at that issue, and the possibility of a surcharge for the senior care facilities was explored. A rate structure was considered for the folks living in a senior care facility. We are prohibited from doing that by various state and federal regulations. This was considered very carefully. Councilman Smith said he hears the ambulances going by frequently and he knows where they are going. However, these are legal residents of the City of Gladstone, and we cannot discriminate against them, including with our rates.
Larry Thrasher, 2379 NE 68th Street, stated he has heard some comments on the ambulance and the public improvements. Mr. Thrasher said he believes if the location is put forward where the sidewalks and the lighting and other public improvements are going to be located, it will help the tax pass much easier.
Greg Strasser, 6709 North Agnes, stated a couple of numbers have been heard this evening regarding a 72 percent or 73 percent property tax increase. Mr. Strasser encouraged all to realize that the proposed property tax increase would only apply to the portion of the property tax that Gladstone receives, making it more like a 7 percent increase.
Item 8. on the Agenda. COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY COUNCIL.
Councilman Joe Evans stated it was great to see such a large crowd in City Hall tonight, and thanked everyone for attending. These are very important issues that are being brought forward to the community, and are the result of tremendous efforts from the community. This has been over a year long project to arrive at these recommendations, and it is something that City Council is taking quite seriously in moving forward.
Councilman Les Smith thanked all the people who have been involved in the whole process over the past year in bringing forward tonight’s recommendations.
Councilman Bill Cross stated he was glad to see such a nice crowd present at this meeting, and there was also a nice crowd at the Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. Councilman Cross said he was glad so many showed up at both places. Councilman Cross said he appreciated the opportunity the citizens of Gladstone have provided to four of the City Council members to attend the National League of Cities conference. City Council members will be leaving tomorrow morning and will spend a few days in Indianapolis, talking and learning more about City government.
Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi stated she hoped everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, enjoyed their weekend, and are looking forward to great holidays through the end of the year. Councilman Rudi thanked Gladstone on the Move for all the work they have done. City Council members have heard these presentations, not just from Gladstone on the Move, but also from Public Safety and Staff on the ambulance issue, and also from Director Sheila Lillis in regard to the community center and the municipal pool. Councilman Rudi said she knows everyone has spent a great deal of time on the issues. There has been a great deal of hard work done by so many. Councilman Rudi thanked all who have worked so hard on these important issues. Councilman Rudi said she was glad to see so many in attendance this evening.
Mayor Wayne Beer thanked all who attended tonight’s meeting. Mayor Beer said he would like to remark on Mr. Daly’s comments. Because our City was unable to depend on MAST to provide the level of service that we expect, it became necessary for this City to staff its own ambulances with little or no regard to the chance of backup from MAST. In order to do so, it meant fire fighters had to be put on an ambulance, if a second ambulance were called out. At that point, if there is an emergency in the City, then it becomes necessary for us to respond with a short truck and mutual aid from Kansas City. That mutual aid from Kansas City or other cities that surround us increases our response times. As a result, we do not have the responses that we feel is necessary, and that is part of this proposal from Gladstone on the Move.
Mayor Beer explained the issues with the ambulance are to bring our response times and our manpower back into a level of responses that we believe we must provide to our citizens. Therefore, the property tax issue has come forward. If a property tax is approved by the citizens of Gladstone, it would provide a form of funding that would be stable and would allow the City to address manpower issues that are more in line with what we desire and require.
Mayor Beer reported our current property tax rate is approximately $.53 cents per $100 assessed valuation. Before the Hancock Amendment began the rollbacks, the property tax in Gladstone was at $.90 cents versus today’s $.53 cents. As property valuations increased, the Hancock Amendment requires a rollback, and as a result we are now down to a $.53 cent property tax levy. It is our hope and desire that we can get tax revenues that will bring our City back to a level of services that were cut or reduced due to the Hancock Amendment rollbacks.
Mayor Beer stated the Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony was a nice event. The event’s purpose is to solicit funding for two very deserving charitable agencies in the Northland area. One being the Northland Christmas Store and the other being Gladstone Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Those two entities depend entirely upon donations and volunteers. Mayor Beer encouraged all to give Roni McBride, Recreation Programmer at City Hall, a call and pledge to her a donation to the Mayor’s Holiday Tree.
Item 9. on the Agenda. COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY MANAGER.
City Manager Kirk Davis stated that he wished everyone a happy holiday season. He commented that we did not have a lot of tree damage from the last snowstorm, but if residents do have brush they need to dispose of, the Public Works facility will be open this week from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day through Sunday for residents to drop off their brush.
Item 10. on the Agenda. FIRST READING BILL 04-44, calling a General Election for the election of two positions to the Gladstone City Council on Tuesday, April 5, 2005, describing the form of the ballot, and directing the City Clerk to submit certification of such election to the Clay County Board of Election Commissioners pursuant to RSMo 115.125.
Councilman Bill Cross moved to place Bill No. 04-44 on First Reading. Councilman Joe Evans seconded. The vote: All “aye” – Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0). The Clerk read the Bill.
Councilman Bill Cross moved to accept the First Reading of Bill 04-44, Waive the Rule and place the Bill on Second and Final Reading. Councilman Joe Evans seconded. The vote: All “aye” – Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0). The Clerk read the Bill.
Councilman Bill Cross moved to accept the Second and Final Reading of Bill 04-44 and enact the Bill as Ordinance 3.934. Councilman Joe Evans seconded.
Roll Call Vote: All “aye” - Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0).
Item 11. on the Agenda. FIRST READING BILL 04-45, imposing a City Sales Tax at a rate of one-fourth of one percent on the receipts from the sale at retail of all tangible personal property or taxable services at retail within the City of Gladstone, Missouri, to provide funding for a Community Center and City Parks, subject to the approval by the voters of the City at a Special Election to be held on Tuesday, February 8, 2005; calling an election for such purpose; designating the form of the ballot; and directing the City Clerk to provide notice of said election.
Councilman Les Smith moved to place Bill No. 04-45 on First Reading. Councilman Bill Cross seconded. The vote: All “aye” – Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0). The Clerk read the Bill.
Councilman Les Smith moved to accept the First Reading of Bill 04-45, Waive the Rule and place the Bill on Second and Final Reading. Councilman Bill Cross seconded. The vote: All “aye” – Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0). The Clerk read the Bill.
Councilman Les Smith moved to accept the Second and Final Reading of Bill 04-45 and enact the Bill as Ordinance 3.935. Councilman Bill Cross seconded.
Councilman Les Smith stated that over the years he has not been a proponent of a sales tax without a sunset, as the City Manager can attest to, nor has he aggressively been a proponent of a community center. However, the issues that Gladstone on the Move has brought forward have opened his eyes to the different potential of the community center. It will be more than just a place to recreate and meet; it will truly be a community center for this town. We have no community center. Gladstone is known far and wide for being a great community but we have no real place we can call our heart. We have North Oak Trafficway and Antioch Road, which most people think of when they think of Gladstone.
Councilman Smith said development is occurring all around us. Our people are going out of our City. Instead of a hub that our people come into, we are a hub with people taking the spokes outward. Councilman Smith said he was not optimistic when he was first re-elected that what was planned for the Village Center would ever happen, but he is somewhat more optimistic that it will happen now. We have a great plan on the books. If developers can make money, and there are several developers in the audience, it will happen. If they cannot make money it will not happen. We have invested in this and provided an opportunity to where folks can make it happen. This community center cannot only help jump start this development and set the architectural tone, it can also attract further development. We can show people who want to invest in our area that we have a community center. We are investing in it and people are investing in it and it is in the Village Center area.
Councilman Smith said we cannot allow the community center or any other entity to become a drain on the City’s general revenues. By not sun setting the sales tax, we are not only projecting a way to pay for the community center, we are projecting a way, with conservative projections of revenue, to maintain, operate, and keep the community center up to date for years and years to come. Councilman Smith said he felt this is essential and hopes that as each Council member steps down over the years, that this philosophy is passed along.
Councilman Smith stated he heard it is costing North Kansas City nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year to operate their community center. We are not projecting our community center to be on the scale of the one in North Kansas City, but we cannot afford a couple of hundred thousand dollars or a quarter of a million dollars a year drain on the general fund. We are struggling to provide the services that our citizens expect as it is.
Councilman Smith said he believes this is a wonderful opportunity for Gladstone. We have heard some good comments from folks regarding sidewalks, storm drainage, and other issues. The folks who believed in the community center, which to them is a very integral part of our quality of life, have always taken a back seat to the priorities. As a City we prioritize. We have a Capital Improvements Sales Tax and are able to take care of storm drainage, sidewalks and curbs, and so forth. We also have a Transportation Sales Tax, and between these two funds, $3.2 million dollars a year is generated to address those infrastructure needs. The Transportation Sales Tax is just as it sounds – transportation issues.
Councilman Smith continued by saying Water Bonds were passed a few years ago to continue to upgrade our City’s water distribution system. When it was thought we might be able to talk about a community center, a fire safety sales tax was introduced to address fire service issues. The supporters of a community center have supported it all along, and they became involved in Gladstone on the Move and they furthered their cause. It is time to see if the citizens of Gladstone want to build a community center, and make an investment in what ultimately will be the downtown of Gladstone.
Councilman Smith said for all these reasons he wholeheartedly supports this issue, endorses it, and will work very hard for its passage.
Mayor Wayne Beer stated much of what Councilman Smith so eloquently stated was also on his mind, and he would also like to mention that the Citizens of Gladstone have always been very supportive of sales tax initiatives that have come to them in past years. The citizens have been supportive of those sales taxes because the City has been able to prove the need and show there are very specific uses for the taxes if they were to be approved by the citizens. Once these sales taxes have been enacted, the City has been excellent about doing exactly as they promised the citizens.
Mayor Beer said he hoped with all his heart that the citizens of our City have the same faith in this proposal for an increase in their property taxes and also as the ¼ cent sales tax falls off, the enactment of a follow-up ¼ cent sales tax. Mayor Beer stated he hopes the citizens of Gladstone will see the need of these two tax proposals, and hopes with all his heart they believe that we will do with these taxes exactly as we say we will do, just as we have done in the past.
Roll Call Vote: All “aye” - Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0).
Item 12. on the Agenda. FIRST READING BILL 04-46, increasing the City Property Tax Levy by 39 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation, subject to the approval by the voters of the City at a Special Election to be held on Tuesday February 8, 2005; calling an election for such purpose designating the form of the ballot; and directing the City Clerk to provide notice of said election.
Councilman Joe Evans moved to place Bill No. 04-46 on First Reading. Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi seconded. The vote: All “aye” – Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0). The Clerk read the Bill.
Councilman Joe Evans moved to accept the First Reading of Bill 04-46, Waive the Rule and place the Bill on Second and Final Reading. Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi seconded. The vote: All “aye” – Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0). The Clerk read the Bill.
Councilman Joe Evans moved to accept the Second and Final Reading of Bill 04-46 and enact the Bill as Ordinance 3.936. Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi seconded.
Councilman Les Smith stated it is not seen everyday, where a group of citizens come to City Hall asking for a tax increase. Councilman Smith said that being a property owner and a business owner, the property tax increase is fairly near and dear to his heart. There are folks in the room who probably own more property than all Council members combined.
Councilman Smith stated he was glad Mayor Beer explained the Hancock Amendment rollback provision. The rollback provision means that as a community, we have not been able to take advantage of our growth. At the same time, our expenses and our cost of services have continued to increase. So in essence, we have remained stable while our costs have gone through the roof.
Councilman Smith said, in approximately 1986, when he and Mr. Bussinger were on the City Council, the decision was made to contract with MAST because of what they promised our City. They promised all the services that we could provide at half the cost. It seemed like a “no brainer”, until they began to not provide any of the services that we were accustomed to providing our citizens. We are here approximately 17 years later to where we have to rely on MAST to provide our back up ambulance service.
Councilman Smith continued by explaining what happened to Mr. Daly, and what Mr. Daly was talking about is that Public Safety was on an ambulance call, when a second ambulance call was received. Our fire fighters were out on a second ambulance call, when Mr. Daly’s house caught on fire. We could not fight that fire. That should not happen to anyone in the City of Gladstone. In a City like ours with the population of approximately 27,000, and with the pride we have, we should never have to say we cannot respond to put out a house fire.
Councilman Smith stated the key component of a property tax increase is the ambulance service, and he feels it is reckless to base life and death service on a volatile, unstable and unpredictable revenue source such as a sales tax. Property taxes are stable, reliable, and predictable, and are the most sensible way for our City to provide a life and death service to our citizens. Council Smith said he feels very strongly we need to do this.
Councilman Smith stated that Mr. Harper mentioned that perhaps we should separate the $.24 cents proposed for the ambulance service from the total $.39 cent property tax increase. The other items that will benefit from the property tax increase are also quality of life issues in the City of Gladstone. All who live here know the City is starting to struggle just a little bit with providing some services. There is only so much money to go around, let alone improving our community. This will allow us to do so. One property tax increase every 50 to 52 years is not so bad. Councilman Smith said he hopes everyone supports it.
Councilman Smith addressed Mr. Hammen’s comments regarding placing the ¼ cent sales tax and property tax increase on the April 5, 2005 ballot, by saying it was not known that Mayor Beer and Mayor Pro Tem Rudi would run unopposed for City Council seats, so it was thought there would be a primary election in February. Additionally, there are other entities, including the School District, who are looking at having an issue on the ballot in April. The beautiful thing about the residents of Gladstone is that if an issue is explained to them, and it is grasped what is proposed and why it is proposed, they generally will support the issue. It was felt the February 8, 2005 election was the greatest opportunity to have the full attention of our citizens and be able to explain exactly what is proposed with their tax dollars, and not have it confused with any other issues. It was felt fiscally prudent to have these ballots on the February election.
Councilman Smith challenged City Council members to continue as they have done. They have proven themselves through this entire process. City Council members were asked to stay away from the Gladstone on the Move meetings, and City Council were the ones who set the rules. City Council has supported the efforts of the Gladstone on the Move Committee and the concept of tax increases, even though two Council members are in an election year, for which Council members are to be commended. Councilman Smith said his challenge is for each City Council member to actively support these issues, and he knows all City Council members will provide such support. Councilman Smith said he hopes Mayor Beer will allow each City Council member to do what they do best in the community, and not feel like he must support these issues by himself. As a five member City Council team, that can be done.
Councilman Smith said from a City staff’s perspective, he challenges them to get our house in order. Our City does have some sidewalk issues, right-of-way maintenance issues, and streetlight issues. We do not want to ask for a property tax increase so that new street lights can be installed and citizens respond by asking about a streetlight that has not worked for three months. Councilman Smith said we need to get our house in order, and he is confident City staff will do that. They work very hard at that.
Councilman Smith addressed all who brought this proposal forward by saying there are different components in this proposal that each person likes and components they may not feel so strongly about, but to remember there is someone else who feels strongly about those components. Councilman Smith challenged all to pitch in and do what they can for the entire sales tax package and the entire property tax package. Councilman Smith said with that, he does not see how we cannot be successful.
Councilman Cross said that over 40 years ago he was on the City’s Fire Board and they had to go to the citizens and City Council and say that a fire truck was needed that would reach above a second story building. At that time there were no buildings bigger than that. It became necessary to buy a fire truck, looking ahead that there may be buildings at some time in Gladstone that would be more than two stories high. Councilman Cross continued by saying 27 years ago, it was proposed to the City Council a new aquatic center that was said could possibly come close to breaking even financially. Councilman Cross said he believes our City is the only City that paid off its swimming pool within 20 years time, and made money during all 20 of those years.
Councilman Cross said he appreciated the support shown by the group here tonight, and the amount of study and effort that has gone on in the different groups that have met. If we can each go back to our own neighborhoods and explain to the homeowners what is necessary and what we can do with the money that is being proposed, it will greatly aid this effort. Councilman Cross referenced a chart showing the property taxes and the sales tax in surrounding communities and said this is useful information to share with people and should be beneficial in providing a better understanding of the need for these two proposals. If we educate the people in Gladstone as to what the Gladstone on the Move committee has put together, it will not be that difficult to sell the total package.
Mayor Pro Tem Rudi began by saying Councilman Smith covered much of what she wished to say. One thing she would like to add to what Mr. Harper brought up was that our City has not had a property tax increase in 50 years. It is too bad we didn’t do it a little bit at a time so this wasn’t so much of an increase. This proposed property tax increase will bring our City closer to a level we have been at in the past, prior to the Hancock Amendment erosion factor. We will probably have to do this again because of the erosion factor of Hancock. Councilman Rudi said this could be the beginning of a little property tax increase at a time and hopes everyone keeps this in mind, and continues to support this initiative. This is what will make our City stay the same City that we live in and love. Councilman Rudi thanked everyone and encouraged those present to talk to Ms. Moore or Mr. Horton, if anyone would like to sign up to help or has any ideas or suggestions.
Mayor Beer stated our City has always been very proud of itself in the fact that it has not raised property taxes in 52 years. Previous City Councils and City staff have always found ways to provide services with the eroding factor of the Hancock Amendment notwithstanding. In that regard, this City really should greatly commend itself for providing the level of services that it has with the revenues on hand. However, as Councilman Smith and Mayor Pro Tem Rudi have mentioned, it has probably hurt us a little bit, too, in the fact when it does become necessary for a tax proposal, then it looks pretty heavy.
Mayor Beer said he hopes with all his heart that the citizens of our City have the same faith in this Council and this Staff and this City that it has in the past with regards to its sales tax proposals. We have been able to prove our need and we have been able to demonstrate that we have done precisely what the citizens expected us to do. Mayor Beer said he hopes that the citizens believe in us today with this proposal as well.
Roll Call Vote: All “aye” - Councilman Joe Evans, Councilman Les Smith, Councilman Bill Cross, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Rudi, Mayor Wayne Beer. (5-0).
Item 13. on the Agenda. OTHER BUSINESS.
Donald Harper stated that since two City Council members mentioned him in their discussion, he wished to clarify that in no way was he not supporting everything that is proposed tonight. His comments were just a thought of a strategy that he thought might be a little easier to go with before the public. This is all very great, and he will be out supporting this effort, and he just wanted to make this clear at this time.
Mayor Beer thanked Mr. Harper and said Council members understood his remarks.
Mr. Harper said Council’s leadership will be most important in this initiative.
Item 14. on the Agenda. QUESTIONS FROM THE NEWS MEDIA.
There were no questions or comments from the News Media.
Item 15. on the Agenda. ADJOURNMENT.
There being no further business to come before the November 29, 2004 Gladstone City Council Meeting, Mayor Wayne Beer adjourned the Regular Meeting.
Cathy Swenson, City Clerk
Approved as submitted: ___
Approved as corrected/amended: ___
Mayor Wayne Beer