2012 Mayoral Letter
June 15, 2012
About this time last year my fellow City Commissioners and I developed the City's 2012 goals, and I am proud to state that the Commission was able to achieve one of our top goals of no increase in the mill level. Since I have been in office the City's mill levy has not increased (it actually has decreased from 53.992 in 2010 to 53.571 in 2012).
The City Commissioners and I are once again committed to ensuring that your property tax does not increase; unfortunately I cannot say the same thing with regards to our utility rates. It is very likely that in the upcoming months the City Commission will begin discussing a rate increase for solid waste collection. One cost savings move would be to eliminate the recycling program; however I believe that recycling is a great benefit to the Community, and I am committed to maintaining this program. Also eliminating the recycling program would be counterproductive to another 2012 goal of encouraging more residents to recycle.
Another solid waste program that I fear may be eliminated is the Limb Yard. The severity of closing the Limb Yard will not be action taken by the City Commission, but instead an order from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Illegal dumping has been occurring in the Limb Yard over the past several months. Kansas law only allows for the dumping of organic matters, i.e. limbs, grass clippings, leaves, etc. If KDHE discovers other material/items in the limb yard, e.g. construction materials, plastic bags, household trash, etc., they have stated that our Limb Yard will be closed permanently. Therefore please take extra care when dumping into the Limb Yard. If you are dumping leaves, please remember that only the leaves can be dumped not the container that was used to transport the leaves to the Limb Yard; in other words please rip open the trash bags and dump the leaves in the proper location then take the plastic trash bag back with you.
As you do yard work and collect brush and clippings to take to the Limb Yard I would also like to ask that you please do not blow your yard waste out onto the streets. Grass clippings have a tendency to find their way into the storm water and sewer system, as well as becoming clumped together getting stuck behind vehicles parked in the street. All of this leads to future flooding of the streets and backs water into neighboring yards, and just becomes unsightly.
A major accomplishment for the City was the construction of a new substation that was partially funded with money from FEMA. Not only did we get a substation built but due to a mild winter, favorable construction bids, and solid project management, the City was able to incur a substantial savings of over $1.2 million dollars. Staff petitioned FEMA to use this excess fund to purchase needed equipment. After a month of steadfast lobbying FEMA finally agreed to let the City purchase the following equipment: six trucks, three police vehicles, two fire engines, air packs for the firefighters, three zero turn lawn mowers, tractor, flail mower, dump truck with a snow plow, backhoe, trencher, asphalt roller, chipper, radios, sewer rodding machine, and sewer inspection system. The Commission would rather have spent the money on infrastructure but unfortunately we did not have the time as the money had to be spent by May 31, 2012.
As with all FEMA funded projects the City is responsible for paying 15% of the total cost. Thanks to the foresight of the voters eight years ago the City has funds available from the half percent equipment sales tax fund (this sales tax sunset two years ago). For comparison the money that was in this fund was only going to allow the City to purchase two pieces of equipment while in the end this money is letting the City purchase 67 pieces of equipment.
With regards of the City receiving Federal funds the City will be applying for Community Development Block Grant to be used to repair streets. The initial thought is to mill the road to its base course and build a new road with proper curbs and cutters. While the road is exposed the City crew will replace the water and sewer lines. I will be the first to admit that I am not looking forward to driving on the roads while being worked on or the dust that will be caused by the construction and heavy equipment; however this temporary inconvenience will result in better water pressure, less sewage backups, but I am looking forward to driving on new streets.
Other grant opportunities the City will be working toward is with the Kansas Department of Transportation to fund the rehabilitation of the streets and sidewalks around the Square; the Kansas Housing Corporation to develop new housing tracts; and the United States Department of Commerce to add rail to our industrial park, which will make the industrial park more inviting for prospective companies. In order to make the rail project come to fruition the City will be working in partnership with Beachner Grain, and Watco. I believe that this type of public/private investment is crucial to the success of Fredonia.
This cooperation can be seen with two newly created organizations, Fredonia Area Community Foundation and Public Square. We are hoping that the Fredonia Area Community Foundation and Public Square can help consolidate the various thoughts, ideas, and dreams from all segments of Fredonia and not only develop a plan, but more importantly develop an implementation plan. I am excited about these organizations because ideas become reality when it is being driven by the public instead of three men sitting behind a dais.
As we move forward to 2013 and beyond, I would like to encourage all the residents of Fredonia to attend one of our Commission meetings. The City Commission meets the first and third Monday of each month, and we want to know your concerns and ideas on how we can better the Fredonia Community.
Respectfully and with warmest regards,
Dennis D. Mollnow