Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meeting schedule to change

February 27, 2008

Tonganoxie residents wanting to attend Tonganoxie City Council meetings will need to change their schedules as the council unanimously voted to change their meeting dates from the second and fourth Mondays of the month to the first and third Mondays.

The new ordinance will take effect April 1, to allow time for city staff to prepare for the change. The first meeting after the new ordinance takes effect will be at 7 p.m. April 7.

The ordinance changing the meeting times stated that in an event the regular meeting day falls on a legal holiday or on a day observed as holiday by the city, the governing body will set a new date and time for a meeting as close as possible to the scheduled day. The new ordinance also included a section stating that if the mayor and president of the council were absent, the council shall beet and elect one of its members as an acting council president.

In earlier council meetings, Council member Jim Truesdell proposed the idea of changing the meeting to allow Tonganoxie residents to come to both City Council and Tonganoxie School Board Meetings. The Tonganoxie School Board meets on the second Monday of every month.

Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator was confident in the transition, but said, "there will be a learning process for us to change the way we do things."

Tree debate

The west side of Pleasant Street is going to look a bit less tree-lined as crews continue their work cutting down and trimming trees to install new Westar Energy electrical lines. This made some Pleasant Street residents angry and they voiced their opinions at Monday night's meeting.

"You destroyed our neighborhoods when you sent people in there to cut trees," said Dave Taylor, Pleasant Street resident and former mayor of Tonganoxie.

According to a Westar official who came to the meeting, it was necessary in order to provide adequate service for Tonganoxie residents.

"When you prune large growing trees they are going to look very lopsided and nobody likes an ugly tree," said Michael Horniman, Westar vegetation management supervisor. "We are willing and capable of just removing the tree and let the property owner plant a lower growing tree that can reach maturity.

Horniman said if the homeowner wanted Westar could prune the trees, but that may not be possible for all species of trees.

Other residents such as Donna Sigourney were lucky. Her red maple didn't have to be removed, only trimmed. She was glad to hear the tree she planted wasn't going to need to be cut down.

"It killed me when they came by and told me they were going to cut my tree down," she said.

Horniman said that under Westar's general terms and conditions for electric service, Westar would be able to cut down a tree in private property not just trees on city right of way.

"Wouldn't it have been nice if the council sent a letter to everyone in the neighborhood about the environmental impact that you've had on the citizens of Pleasant Street," Taylor said. "These are citizens of the city and you are supposed to represent them and you are not doing a very good job."

Bob Altenhofen said he had received a brochure from Westar that indicated what kind of trees would need to be removed. His major concern was with the tree stump that would be left in his yard.

"If you are going to take the tree out what the heck do I want with a dead stump?" he asked.

Horniman answered that it simply wasn't cost effective for Westar to pay to have each stump removed.

City Administrator Mike Yanez said the city would consider paying for the stump removal because it is accommodating a city project.

Horniman said his crew would be complete with the tree trimming project before the middle of March.

County Road 1

With the absence of Council Member Jim Truesdell, the Tonganoxie City Council was evenly split on their views on whether or not to help fund the road improvements on County Road 1.

On one side, council members Tom Putthoff and Paula Crook didn't think it was necessary for the city to contribute funding to the project.

"I believe that County Road 1 is a county road," Crook said. "Citizens of Tonganoxie are already contributing to the County Road 1 project because they are paying county tax. If the city contributes money we are going to be double dipping the taxpayers of Tonganoxie."

She also believes that the sales tax money that would be used as the city's contribution to CR 1 would be better used on city street projects so the city would not have to borrow money for city street projects. County sales tax money can only be used for capital improvements or economic development.

Putthoff believes that the city's contribution will come from the city maintaining the infrastructure from the growth that may develop because of the road.

"It's the citizens of Tonganoxie that are asked to give more money when we are going to be the ones that will provide the services," Putthoff said "We are going to be the one that are going to have to provide the law enforcement and the fire department."

On the other side of the debate, council members Steve Gumm and Jason Ward said the city needs to contribute their share of the money if they want to have a say in how the area will develop and because the road improvements will help Tonganoxie.

"I wouldn't look at it as providing any additional burden on the Tonganoxie taxpayers, I would look at is as us using a portion of the proceeds in a fair manner for economic development and helping with the project," Ward said.

Ward later said that, "the city of Tonganoxie is not going to be the only one out there on an island providing services and extending infrastructure an expanding money we do not have."

Council members later agreed to set up a work session with members of the Leavenworth County Commission to hammer out details on what the county wanted from them and what the city would want from the project.

In other business the Tonganoxie city council:

¢ Listened to a funding proposal from Kay Anderson of the Alliance Against Family Violence . Anderson came to ask the council for $5,000 to help their 2009 operating budget. Besides Anderson, Tonganoxie Police Chief Kenneth Carpenter and Ron Cranor, undersheriff for the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office, spoke on behalf of the service.

Both Carpenter and Cranor said the service frees up officers while they are dealing with the suspect in a domestic dispute and provides the necessary care for the victims.

"They are a very important asset and they are an important part of our team to help victims of domestic violence," Carpenter said. "It would be difficult for us to operate without them."

The council unanimously voted to direct staff to put $5,000 in the budget paperwork for FY 2009 for monies to be given to the program.

¢ Met in executive session for a total of 15 minutes for the purposes of attorney-client privilege.

¢ Scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Monday to hear a presentation from Bucher, Willis and Ratliff for economic development. The meeting is open to the public.

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