City to pay part of police overtime
Maple Leaf Committee gets help with expenses for festival
It took nearly an hour, but the Baldwin City Council and Maple Leaf Committee finally reached an agreement Monday night about who would pay what for police overtime during the Maple Leaf Festival.
The city council approved in a 3-2 vote, with Council Members Ted Brecheisen and Todd Cohen voting against, to have the Maple Leaf Committee pay a maximum of $2,500 for police overtime for this year's festival. The city will pay for any overtime in excess of that amount.
At Monday's meeting, Diane Wagner, the liaison between the Maple Leaf Committee and the city, asked the council on behalf of the committee to consider putting a $1,500 cap on police overtime during the Maple Leaf Festival in October, with the city making up any difference.
Wagner said the committee paid more than $3,300 in police overtime last year, which was a considerable amount more than the approximate $1,300 paid during each of the previous three years. This year's police overtime is expected to be similar to last year's expenses.
She said the committee members understood the increase in the overtime fee was caused by increased police salaries, but it left less money for the committee to distribute to its normal 64 local organizations.
"It was just a very big shock to us last year," she said. "Several groups got less than what we normally give them."
Cohen said he felt it was a reasonable request from the Maple Leaf Committee.
"This is great advertising for Baldwin City. I think the whole city benefits from it," he said. "I think a cap is reasonable. I think we can budget for it and I think the Maple Leaf Committee can budget for it."
Council Member George McCrary said he didn't think the city should be responsible for police overtime because of the other costs Baldwin incurs.
"There's a lot the city already does for Maple Leaf," McCrary said. "I think there's a lot of direct costs the city incurs despite the police overtime."
One of the extra costs, he said, includes the free electricity the city provides to parts of the festival like the carnival.
"When you weigh it out, I think the taxpayers would be shocked at what amount the city is putting out in cost," he said.
Brecheisen said he agreed with McCrary.
"We provide some of the electricity free," he said. "The first of October, the rates are going to go up.
"Free money has got to come from somewhere," Brecheisen said. "Whenever you go giving something away, it's got to come from somewhere."
Cohen said the expenses the city incurs doesn't compare to the amount of people the festival draws to Baldwin.
"What else can you do that brings in 30,000 people into the city in a weekend?" he said. "I think the impact on Baldwin, the advertising for Baldwin, is so great that it's hard to put a dollar amount on it."
Council Member Marilyn Pearse said she appreciated the fact the committee gave back to local organizations, but the money for police overtime had to come from somewhere.
"The community you want to support is the same community you're asking to pay for it," Pearse said. "The city's not a separate entity up here. It's the taxpayers. The very people you're trying to benefit are the same ones paying for it. You're taking it right back from them."
Wagner said the committee appreciated all the city did for the Maple Leaf Festival, but just wanted to get some assistance from the city for the overtime expenses.
"Personally, I don't understand why this is such a hot issue," she said. "We're not coming in here demanding this, demanding that. We're just asking for a little help here.
"Yes, the city does put a lot of time and effort into it. I want you to understand we do appreciate it," she said. "But the less money we have, the less money we can give away."
Cohen said it was important to remember it's not just the committee that would benefit from the city's assistance.
"The city as a whole truly benefits from it," he said. "It brings outside money in. Most of the money Maple Leaf brings in stays here. The city is benefiting in so many ways.
"Other communities would love to have this quote unquote burden," Cohen said.
Council Member Ken Wagner made a motion to approve the Maple Leaf Committee's request for the $1,500 cap for police overtime with the city making up the difference. The motion failed in a 2-3 vote, with Brecheisen, McCrary and Pearse voting against.
McCrary said he would be willing to raise the cap so the city wouldn't be responsible for as much, but the Maple Leaf Committee would still get some assistance. He made the motion to set the committee's cap at $2,500, with the city making up the difference.
In other business, the city council:
Reviewed amendments to the city's tree ordinance. The suggested revisions were created by a 10-member committee with the help of the Kansas Forestry Service.
The public works committee will review the changes and ask for input from city staff before the city council decides to approve the revisions at a later meeting.
Approved in a 5-0 vote to grant a 30-day extension to Baldwin Lumber for the removal of the building at 815 High St.
Approved in a 5-0 vote to authorize city staff to prepare and complete an application to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for a loan from the Kansas Public Water Supply Fund for the financing of the city's new water towers.
Met in executive session for one hour and 40 minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken after executive session concluded.
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