Comment history

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer


I voted to allow City Administrator Dingman to submit a joint bid with Douglas County for the project to improve the intersection in conjunction with the KDOT Corridor Management Plan as was adopted by the City of Baldwin. My reasoning was that it was indeed unfortunate that this issue could not have been handled at the time of planning for the new school; however, the reality of the situation was that no one affiliated with the City (staff, Mayor, or Council) could control the decisions made about the US56 and Lawrence Ave. intersection. The City Council passed a resolution in the summer of 2009 that highly encouraged future study of the intersection, because it seemed obvious to us that the new school would considerably increase traffic (and traffic problems) at the intersection.

When an opportunity appeared for approximately 90% of the funding to correct the situation would be provided by the State, and 60% of the remainder would be provided by the County, several of us on the Council strongly felt that it was the best deal we could hope to get to address a known problem. Yes it is currently outside the City limits, but that will not be the case forever. At the point that the City were to annex land to the west it would immediately become a problem that the City would have to address.

The two Council members that opposed entering into an agreement made very good points that the money we would spend on a project outside the City limits could be used for things like the Elm Street bridge replacement (now a very pressing matter). I think it's safe to characterize the discussions as "vigorous debate". I felt strongly that it was "gut check" time and we did not want to miss the opportunity for a huge portion of the project to be funded by a wider tax base than just Baldwin City taxpayers.

I have consistently advocated for costs to be as closely mapped to the usage of their constituents as possible (and the tax bases that support those constituents). As an example I did not believe that the City should subsidize the cost of the electricity to run the lights at the USD 348 athletic fields. It made more sense to have a wider tax base pick up those costs because the benefits accrued to the District as a whole.

Robin Bayer
203 9th Street

February 18, 2011 at 10:51 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Vacant school, district property stirs interest from various groups


The Recreation Commission as an entity can purchase real property. Since the Recreation Commission would be the logical folks to operate such a facility it would probably be an all-around better fit for them to purchase (or otherwise acquire) the facility directly than for the City to be involved. The Recreation Commission draws its taxing authority from USD 348, therefore its tax base would be much wider, and the resultant cost to an individual taxpayer within the Baldwin City limits would be less under such a scenario.

Robin Bayer

February 17, 2011 at 5:41 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer


I am not a traffic engineer but I think that the narrow bridge right on the other side of 11th precluded the turn lane extension to 11th that you describe. It is a great idea but it seems to me that the lane narrowing and shouldering required to do this wouldn't be feasible in the westbound run-up to the bridge.

The good news is that when that bridge is replaced in 2013 it will be engineered for at least three lanes, which should provide the necessary space for either narrowing the road or continuing the third lane across the bridge. This was the best information available at the time that I discussed this with Earl Bosak (our KDOT engineer) when KDOT provided an overview of their US 56 Corridor Management Plan last year.

Robin Bayer

February 16, 2011 at 10:28 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer

Please accept my apologies for the formatting of the Resolution. What was shown in the Preview looked great, but did not carry over to what was actually posted.

Robin Bayer

February 15, 2011 at 10:59 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Governing Body of the City of Baldwin
City, Kansas, that:

Section 1. The Governing Body endorses the Planning Commission’s February, 2009
recommendation that the development plan for the west side of town include
building Elm Street to connect Lawrence Street to Eleventh Street.

Section 2. The Governing Body endorses the Planning Commission’s approval of the site plan, requiring that Bullpup Drive be extended south to Elm Street, and Elm Street be
constructed from Bullpup Drive west to Lawrence Street as part of the current
project to build ball fields and a primary education center on the property.

Section 3. The Governing Body endorses further study of the intersection of N1600 Road and
US56 Highway by the city, the county, the school district, and/or KDOT to determine the best way to address safety concerns at the intersection. The Governing Body supports adjusting the rural highway school speed zone to encompass the intersection of N1600 Road and US56 Highway.

ADOPTED and APPROVED by the Governing Body of Baldwin City, Kansas on this 20th
day of July, 2009.

February 15, 2011 at 10:55 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer

RESOLUTION NO. 2009 – 09


WHEREAS, The Baldwin City Planning Commission, at its regular meeting on February 10,
2009, heard from the development team of USD 348 regarding the proposed development of ball fields, a primary elementary school, and a road network at the school district’s property on the west edge of Baldwin City; and

WHEREAS, upon consideration of the proposed development, the Planning Commission
issued its recommendation that said development should include the construction of the new portion of Bullpup Drive south to Elm Street, and the construction of Elm Street from Lawrence Street east to Eleventh Street, such streets being already platted; and

WHEREAS, in considering its recommendation, the Planning Commission did understand
the cost involved in reconstructing the portion of Elm Street from Eleventh Street to the railroad right-of-way, making a railroad crossing, and constructing a new portion of road from the railroad right-of-way to Lawrence Street, but made its recommendation as being in the best interest of planning the development of the USD property and providing a third alternative to connect the development with the body of the city; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission subsequently approved a site plan for the new
primary elementary school, affirmatively requiring that Elm Street be constructed from
Lawrence Street east to Bullpup Drive, and then Bullpup be extended to Elm Street in
conjunction with the current projects; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission reaffirmed their earlier recommendation that the new
section of Elm Street be connected to Eleventh Street as part of the long range plan for
development on the west side of town; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission also requested a traffic study be completed for the
area, such study was completed, and questions remain as to the best way to handle the
intersection of N1600 Rd and US56 Highway

February 15, 2011 at 10:53 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer

Also, please see the following text from the minutes of the Baldwin City Council on July 20, 2009:

Mayor Wagner presented for consideration Resolution No. 2009-09 regarding the Governing Body’s position on recommendations and actions surrounding the road projects associated with the USD 348 construction projects. Councilmember Bayer moved to approve Resolution No. 2009-09. Councilmember Plumberg seconded the motion. Councilmember Brecheisen questioned what passing the ordinance would accomplish as it did not state who would be paying for the project. Councilmember Bayer said the council wanted to give the planning commission an indication of the will of the governing body as to what would likely be passed when placed in front of them. Councilmember Brecheisen felt the resolution committed the city to funding the items in the future because we so strongly endorsed them. City Administrator Dingman said the resolution is an indicator for the long range plan of the area, regardless of changes on the school board, planning commission or city council. Mayor Wagner said it’s an opportunity for the governing body, as it sits today, to take a position on the desire to have the streets connect, which makes our position clear to USD 348. Councilmember Brecheisen did not feel it was the council’s place to recommend further study of the E1600 Road and US56 Highway intersection or adjusting the speed limit at that corner. Councilmember Magers felt that was the most beneficial portion of the resolution. The motion carried 3-1 with Brecheisen opposed and Councilmember Farmer not yet present.

I believe it is important to establish that the City advised appropriately but was not in a position to control the decisions that were made regarding road improvements at that intersection.

Robin Bayer
203 9th Street

February 15, 2011 at 9:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer


Please see the following text from the February 2, 2009 minutes of the Baldwin City Council. I believe that the City Staff, the City Council, and the Planning Commission took the proper approach with regard to stating their opinion to USD 348 in matters pertaining to traffic patterns with regard to the school project:

Councilmember Brecheisen questioned if the typical process was for the developer or property owners to pay for the street and then turn it over to the city. City Administrator Dingman answered yes, that had been the precedence for private developments. Wagner asked if anyone had met with Douglas County about the impact the increased traffic would have on Lawrence Street. Dorathy confirmed he had and said Lawrence Street was to be part of the traffic study. Councilmember Brecheisen said he was disappointed that the street issues were not resolved prior to the bond issue being passed. Councilmember Wagner asked Kyle Trendel, who sits on the city’s planning commission and was in attendance, to speak about the planning commission’s discussion on the topic. Trendel said the planning commission felt that putting Elm Street through from Lawrence Street to Eleventh Street would alleviate traffic concerns on Lawrence Street, specifically the intersection of Lawrence Street and US56 Highway, and provide for safer foot and bicycle traffic to the two schools and the ball field complex. In addition, Trendel said the planning commission felt that Elm Street should ultimately be improved to Tenth Street to handle the traffic, although the recommendation from the commission’s February 10 meeting was limited to improving Elm Street through its intersection with Eleventh Street. Councilmember Wagner asked where the school was in the construction process and how they met with the planning process. Dorathy said they planned to go have a lot to present to the planning commission at its March 10 meeting, and hoped to go to bid by April on some of the projects, specifically the ball fields.

February 15, 2011 at 9:39 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Slates set for spring elections


You are correct in pointing out that the spending on bonds is separate from other areas of the budget. A municipal revenue bond works by joining the borrowing of a sum of money for a specific project with the ability to repay it from a dedicated revenue stream available to the issuing agency. In this case, USD 348 as a taxing authority assesses a specific tax on property owners to finance the bond (you can see it separately on your Douglas County tax statement). This tax is used to repay the principal of the bond and pay interest to those who loaned money to underwrite the bond. In reality this is the only way that a municipality, school district, county, or sometimes even a State can finance large capital expenditures since they generally don't have enormous cash reserves set aside for such purposes.

A municipal revenue bond can only be issued for capital expenditures (i.e. buildings) and not operating expenses such as teacher salaries. As such, the amount of outstanding bonds does not affect the spending levels available in other areas of the budget (which are financed through different mechanisms or other reserved revenue streams). However -- and this is a big however -- it looks the same to the taxpayer whether the amount assessed to his or her property is used for capital expenditures or operating expenses. And for this reason we cannot ask the taxpayers to pay any more to "shore up" the operating budget, even with the steep funding cuts that were proposed by the Governor for the next few fiscal years.

Robin Bayer
203 9th Street

January 31, 2011 at 11:47 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Slates set for spring elections

In comments on last week's candidate announcements article, the blog poster 'solo' asked candidates to describe the reasons why they are running ( I have summarized the reasons why I am a candidate for the At-Large position for the USD 348 School Board as follows:

1.) We Cannot Ask for More From Property Owners

Even in the wake of upcoming State funding cuts, we cannot make up the difference with increases to our Local Option Budget. Property owners in USD 348 have paid a high price for premium facilities. We cannot add to their tax burden even in these challenging times.

2.) Practice the Art of Planning - Starting with the Short Term

* In the first six months create a Top Ten list of initiatives for rapid action on issues requiring immediate attention..
* Create short timeframe plans against those initiatives and execute those plans.
* After that, create and maintain plans for 2, 5, and 10 years out that will paint the picture of the premier district we are creating.

3.) Transparency - Let Constituents See Everything We Do

* Enforce strict compliance with Kansas Open Meetings and Records acts
* Review current procedures for convening Executive Sessions to ensure compliance with all Kansas laws.
* Publish ALL working products related to fiscal decisions in a timely fashion.

4.) Become Highly Responsive to Constituents

* Provide verbal feedback, as appropriate, to those who address Board Members during public comments. Some have suggested that it is against State laws to provide this verbal feedback, but this is NOT the case.
* All presenters in meetings must face the audience and speak directly to them as participants in the meeting along with the Board.
* Move Executive Sessions to end of meetings so that busy taxpayers can maximize their participation in publicly visible decision-making.

In any election there are always candidates who will tell you that "all we have to do is <fill in the blank>" and all our problems will be solved. This election promises to be no exception. I urge you to view such statements with a great deal of skepticism. The problems we face are highly complex and have been years in the making -- but they are not insurmountable.

The first step in tackling these complex problems is to build and refine the processes by which the Board and Administration listen to their constituents and then act in the best interest of those constituents. A better process will result in better decisions, which in turn drives future process improvements. With each successive “better” decision, we take one more step in the creation of a premier district for which we will all be proud to be a part.

Robin Bayer

January 29, 2011 at 10:51 p.m. ( | suggest removal )