Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mayor’s vote clears way for trail plan

November 19, 2009

It wasn’t exactly “happy trails to you” from the entire Baldwin City Council Monday night.

After a lengthy discussion regarding a resolution to authorize applying for a grant for a hiking and biking trail, the council voted 2-2, with Councilman Robin Bayer absent. That put the deciding vote on Mayor Ken Wagner’s shoulders and he voted to go for the grant, which brought it to 3-2.

“This is the resolution that essentially expresses the will of the governing body to support the grant application,” City Administrator Jeff Dingman said to start the discussion. “There are a lot of details to iron out, but this starts it.”

That support was divided from the start on a project that would bring a hiking and biking trail from Douglas County Road 12 to near U.S. Highway 56. The Transportation Enhancement grant would supply 80 percent of the $270,000 to $300,000 project, but the city would also have to pay design costs of 7 to 10 percent. That’s the way the grants worked for the Downtown Streetscape and Women’s Bridge projects.

Councilman Ted Brecheisen Jr. was against the resolution for several reasons.

“I don’t think I can support this resolution,” said Brecheisen. “We haven’t collected a cent of this tax and there are other things on the list. I think we’re jumping out to do something quick.

“I hate to have us commit right now for the grant,” he said. “I think we’re locking ourselves into something. It’s just like using a credit card and getting in trouble.”

Dingman said that the grant applications to the Kansas Department of Transportation are due by Dec. 31, but there won’t be a problem with the new quarter-cent sales tax for “quality of life” projects not taking effect until April 1.

“This probably won’t happen until May and money won’t be available until October,” he said.

Brecheisen was also concerned that the trail duplicates efforts with the upcoming project on County Road 1055 that will include sidewalks. The city will be splitting costs with Douglas County on that project.

“It’s two different things,” said Dingman, about sidewalks and trails.

Wagner brought up another point.

“We can make application for it, but that doesn’t mean it we will get it,” said Wagner.

Councilmember Tom Farmer was concerned about not having a firm number on what the project would cost. The $270,000 to $300,000 was only a ballpark figure Dingman had and that will be studied, he said.

“I think it would be good to have some firmer numbers,” said Brecheisen.

Councilmember Bonnie Plumberg pointed out that a survey has been done that shows hiking and biking trails are favored by the majority of the people who responded.

“I appreciate what Junior has said, but personally for me this is one the things that’s been at the forefront from the public,” said Plumberg.

Brecheisen and Farmer voted against the resolution, while Plumber and Mike Magers voted for it.

Earlier the council had voted unanimously on ordinances terminating the old half-cent sales tax and levying the new half-cent and quarter-cent sales taxes. Voters approved those earlier this month. The old half-cent sales tax was to pay for the swimming pool. The new half-cent tax is for infrastructure improvements, such as the north Sixth Street work.

The council approved a $2,065 per year raise for Dingman following a 40-minute executive session to review his performance. That brings his salary to $84,699.


greyghost 8 years, 7 months ago

Can anyone say "Salary Freeze"?

Guess not.


NanCrisp 8 years, 7 months ago

These grants that are available can be used for a number of different projects and improvements. In B.C., though, instead of having a plan that outlines what is needed, when it will be needed, and what the priorities will be, we have special interest committees doing buddy polls to drum up support for pet projects. Then we go out looking for grants that will help those pet projects come to fruition. Never mind the fact that those same grants could be used strategically to help this town meet its planning and infrastructure goals.

It is more than simply amazing to me that no matter how circumstances change, we are tied down to granting the wishes of people who participated in a survey. And this is going to cost all the taxpayers -- not just the survey respondents -- hundreds of thousands of dollars. How about now that we have the sales tax in place, we have a new survey, make it very easy for as many citizens as possible to participate, and ask how they want these dollars spent. Maybe some who didn't participate in the previous survey have more reason now to provide input. After all, the previous survey was just theoretical. I suspect that most of the respondents saw it as information gathering rather than as policy making. I’m also sure that the reality of having to pony up this sales tax makes a few more B.C. citizens interested in providing input. And I'm sure that as time goes on and the recession deepens (for most of us, anyway), people's desires for hiking and biking trails may give way to desires for more useful infrastructure. There are limited dollars available. Let's be wise spending them.


bc 8 years, 7 months ago

NanCrisp, you could, i dunno, go to the city council meetings to voice your opposition. That's all the better the survey was, a suggestion to city council. The council is the final decision, not the survey respondents, so blaming them (and I'm not one of them) is useless.


TeaBagger 8 years, 7 months ago

So where the hell was "Councilmember" Bayer? I thought his job was to show up and make these votes. Guess all of us are right that assumed his only purpose for being on City Council is to steal whatever he can. I sure hope the other Council members are watching over what that lying scumbag is doing.


jmyrick 8 years, 7 months ago

TeaBagger made a post that violated the TOS. The part of his post that was OK follows. TeaBagger, you make good points, but you took it too far.


TeaBagger (Anonymous) says…

So where the hell was “Councilmember” Bayer? I thought his job was to show up and make these votes.


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