City of Independence September 2016 NewsletterFINALFINAL09.01.2016
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www.independenceks.gov SEPTEMBER 2016
We’ve moved temporarily.
Here’s what you should know...
City employees are still settling in at the
temporary location for City Hall, “Building
D” at 811 W. Laurel.
All offices where you formerly conducted
business at 120 N. 6th are operating in
the new location.
First Floor: Water Department and
City Clerk’s office.
Lower Level: Municipal Court and the
Public Works director.
Second Floor: Police Department,
Fire/EMS, Public Safety Director, City
Manager, Assistant City Manager,
Building Inspector, Utilities Director and
Independence Housing Authority.
Visitors should enter the building
through the Laurel Street door (formerly
the Emergency/Outpatient entrance of
Currently, the 911 dispatch crew is
operating out of a mobile unit at City Hall
and will join the rest of the departments at
the temporary location as soon as installation
of the new 911 system is completed
later this fall.
Payments are still collected daily from
the secure drop box located directly north
of the City Hall building at 120 N. 6th.
Please place each payment in a sealed
In this issue of City Hall News, you will
find several questions and answers about
the relocation process, and more
information is available on our website:
We encourage you to check back
frequently for updates.
City of Independence • 811 W. Laurel • Independence, KS 67301 • 620-332-2500
City management ain’t for the faint
ity management is a tough gig!
C It was during my high school days
growing up in Oklahoma that I first
dreamed of being a city manager. I
developed an interest in public administration
while visiting with a city manager in a
nearby community. I thought from that
time on that it would make for interesting
work, and I have found in my 30 years in
the city management field that it is indeed
the most interesting work around.
These days, when you read about
petitions to terminate my position or you
hear accusations of personal agendas and
mismanagement, you understandably may
question why I would ever want to do this
job. I never question.
In all these years, working in communities
of all sizes, I’ve learned a few things.
Lesson One: You can’t please everyone.
There are as many different perspectives
on each issue as there are taxpayers in
town. You must filter through the politics
for the sake of the common good.
Sometimes, the decisions are gutwrenching
and may even challenge longheld
local loyalties and beliefs. But in the
interest of best serving the majority,
change is often necessary. One example in
recent history is the restructuring of roles
and priorities in the Park Department,
which led to multiple improvements in our
park and zoo and helped restore this venue
to its rightful status as an icon of
Lesson Two: There are consequences to
every decision. No matter the issue, someone
is going to be impacted. Think it
through, research every angle, lose as
much sleep as necessary, then choose
In joining the City staff six years ago, little
did I know I was inheriting a dicey situation
in our Police Department and one of my
first orders of business would be to assist
in the criminal investigation of a corrupt
chief. Fortunately, our department
rebounded stronger under the leadership
of Chief Harry Smith, and I expect more
great things to come on the watch of Chief
Lesson Three: It takes a team. My
management style is to surround myself
with qualified professionals who are
empowered to lead their departments.
They are the experts in their areas. I must
trust their judgment.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to
understand I have an all-star team. Thankfully,
I trusted the judgment of our
emergency services leaders as we made
the leap to consolidate our fire and EMS
departments a few years ago. This transformation,
though not without its
challenges and some rather painful silobusting,
has created a much more efficient
department better trained and equipped
to respond to our citizens’ emergency calls.
The wisdom of this decision was never
more evident than in the last year, since
the closure of Mercy Hospital and a significant
transition in the way our Fire/EMS
staff are called to serve the community.
And the most important lesson of all: It’s
bigger than you and me. Acting in the best
interest of the whole community means
seeing the big picture and taking the long
view. It’s human nature, I think, for us to
let our immediate woes consume us - our
property tax bill, our fears about the loss of
health care services in our community,
concerns about general economic decline.
All are absolutely valid reasons for worry. I
get it, and I’m right there with you.
But when I put on my City Manager’s hat
on my way to work each day, it’s my
responsibility to think broader. My team
and I are challenged with finding solutions
and taking action. We work day in and day
out to improve our great community for
not just ourselves and our current
residents, but for generations to come.
Today, we unfortunately find our
community in a bitter divide over our
immediate woes. Years of walking the
tightrope of City spending, balancing
limited resources with unlimited needs and
taxpayers’ appetite has led us to a
situation where more difficult decisions
must be made. This time, it involves our
own “house,” the workplace of those who
strive daily to make our community better,
keep you safe and enhance the quality of
life we all enjoy in Independence.
No, the situation isn’t breaking news. Just
in my six years here, the deteriorating
condition of City Hall, routine maintenance
and repair issues, recommendations for
major building improvements and/or alternative
facilities have been presented to the
City Commission no less than 30 times. We
have patched, repaired, replaced and held
our breath (literally) in hopes that our 100-
year-old building could sustain us just
awhile longer until appropriate – and
digestible - alternatives were vetted.
Unfortunately, circumstances beyond our
control have forced our hand and
propelled us into territory we were never
quite ready to tread before. It feels a little
like drawing the map after you’ve already
reached your destination. Except that we
are still not “there.” There is much work,
thought, consideration, discussion, debate
and decision-making yet to come.
I couldn’t be more proud of the courage
of our City staff and our Commissioners for
rising to the challenge to address our
immediate woes while keeping an eye on
the future and committing to finding solutions
to carry our community forward.
Improving, advancing, progressing…it
takes time, it takes money, it takes backbone
and it takes sacrifice.
And as for my commitment, it hasn’t
wavered. Chips may fall, critics may attack,
but I remain optimistic for the future of our
exceptional community, and I will continue
to do what I believe in my heart is right.
Recent debate in our city and county is
testament to the fact that budgets and taxes
are always challenging and never pleasant
for the taxpayers OR the taxing entities.
In this issue of City Hall News, we’ve
included the 2017 Budget for the City of
Independence, which was approved by the
City Commission on August 11, 2016.
The 2017 Budget represents a 5.187 mill
increase (11% increase) over 2016. We
know the budgeting process can be
complicated and confusing, so we’ve also
provided the illustration below that explains
how a “mill” equates to actual dollars
generated for the city and how it impacts the
average property or business owner.
Please note: These figures apply only to the
City’s 2017 budget and do not include
increases by other taxing entities.
Mill Increase = 5.187
Additional Revenue Generated
for the City = $264,101
If you own a $50K home,
your annual additional taxes = $29.83
If you own a $100K home,
your annual additional taxes = $59.65
If you own a $100K business,
your annual additional taxes = $129.68
Recycling Collection Day
(a week later this month
due to holiday)
8 a.m.-12 noon
City Sanitation Yard, 21st & Maple
FORPAZ “Forty Paws”
6:30 p.m. - Logan Fountain
40th anniversary celebration for
Friends of Riverside Park & Zoo
City Commission Meeting
Veterans Room / Memorial Hall
Open to the community.
2017 Tax to Tax
Fund Expenses be Levied Rate*
General $7,486,641 $1,562,810 30.694
Industrial 49,000 9,982 0.196
G F Emp Benefits 852,615 655,920 12.882
Lib Emp Benefits 0 0 0.000
Library 278,900 242,589 4.764
Liability Insurance 84,100 70,095 1.377
Bond & Interest 1,546,726 119,799 2.353
Airport 606,232 N/A N/A
Water/Sewer 4,694,365 N/A N/A
Sanitation 1,163,502 N/A N/A
Spec Parks/Rec 44,000 N/A N/A
Spec Alcohol 30,000 N/A N/A
Eco Dev & Transportation 829,435 N/A N/A
Educational Sales Tax 1,931,000 N/A N/A
Quality of Life Sales Tax 70,000 N/A N/A
Memorial Hall Tax Credit 446,431 N/A N/A
Special Use Sales Tax 2,865,481 N/A N/A
TOTAL $22,978,428 $2,661,195 52.266
Less: Transfers 1,011,315
Net Expenses $21,967,113
Total Tax Levied $2,661,195
Assessed Valuation $50,916,502
Indebtedness, Jan. 1 2016
G O Bonds $11,120,000
KS Revolving Loans 1,978,018
Lease Purchase 564,708
* Tax Rates are expressed in mills.
Q A &
With the recent relocation of City departments to
temporary accommodations in the former Mercy Hospital
building due to environmental health concerns at City
Hall, we understand that you, our customers and
taxpayers, likely have many questions. It is our
responsibility to keep you informed and it is important to
us to know you are receiving accurate information. We
are committed to providing transparent communication
as this situation continues to evolve.
Therefore, we have assembled this list of some of the
most frequently asked questions we have received over
the past few weeks. We also are maintaining an updated
Q&A list on our website - www.independenceks.gov -
and we encourage you to check there frequently for
We sincerely thank you for your patience and
Q: How much is it costing to temporarily relocate City Hall to the former hospital building?
A: Relocation costs have come in right on target with our early estimates. Initial costs for electrical work, security reinforcement,
communications systems, furnishings, professional services, etc., total approximately $327,000, including contingency costs. These
costs have been drawn from a combination of City funds, including the General Fund, Memorial Hall Tax Credits Fund and the Special
Use Sales Tax Fund. (The Memorial Hall Tax Credit and Special Use Sales Tax funds are not supported by ad valorem/property tax
We will have an additional expense of approximately $324,000 for the engineering and construction of a temporary facility to
accommodate our fire trucks and ambulances on the West Laurel property. This facility will be movable as necessary at a later date,
and its planned future use is to house equipment for the Sanitation Department.
And finally, the relocation of our 911 system to Building D will cost approximately $109,000. The purchase and installation of the
system, however, was already budgeted for February 2017, so the cost of the system is not a new expenditure, just accelerated.
All totaled, costs for the entire project are estimated at approximately $760,000. Thankfully, we have been able to engage many local
business and professionals for the goods and services needed to accomplish the relocation.
Q: Hasn’t the City known for years that there were environmental issues at City Hall?
A: Yes. We have fought moisture in the building for years and years. Insufficient drainage on the property causes basement flooding;
aging windows cause moisture penetration; roof issues allow rain to leak in; and the deterioration of 100-year-old plumbing in the
walls adds another major challenge. Just in the last six years, we have completed multiple building repairs as issues have arisen -
we’ve replaced faulty plumbing and repaired walls. We’ve added basement sump pumps and taken many measures to fix immediate
problems. In that same time period, building maintenance, deterioration, major renovation recommendations and even alternative
Season Finale Movie Night - “Jungle Book”
6:30 p.m. - Pre-show activities; 7:30 p.m. - Show time
Community National Bank parking lot, 121 N. Penn
FREE. Bring blankets and lawn chairs.
Sponsors: Equity Bank and H&H Roofing
Recycling Collection Day
8 a.m.-12 noon - City Sanitation Yard, 21st & Maple
Y HALL TEMPORARY RELOCATION
City Hall locations have been hashed out by City staff and the City Commission no less than 30 times. However, each time the subject
has been broached, the price tag has been daunting, and City staff and Commissioners alike have been extremely challenged to
identify adequate and digestible financing options when also weighing the many other needs in our community and what taxpayers
are and are not willing to pay for. There was never intentional negligence on anyone’s part. There just are so many priorities to
manage with limited resources.
Now, however, the first documented claims of employee illnesses potentially connected to their work environment have forced our
hand and required the temporary relocation. It’s certainly not the ideal solution, but it is workable for the time being. And,
thankfully, since relocating in mid-August, many of our employees already report “feeling better.” It may be, in part, improved
morale and, in another way, genuinely improved physical health, but employees are definitely benefiting by being removed from
their previous environment.
The unavoidable fact about City Hall is it is 100 years old. While, from the perspective of historical pride, that is something to be
treasured, from the standpoint of practicality as a functional working environment in 2016, it is a serious challenge. It’s reasonable
to believe it would have been just as much of a challenge 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
Q: What would it take to get City Hall back in shape and functioning again?
A: Money, time and the willingness of local taxpayers to make it happen. According to our architect and environmental professionals,
first steps, of course, will require abatement of the mold—as well as any possible asbestos and lead paint which are often
present in buildings of its age. Until the professionals dig in, we won’t know just how extensive the problem is, but early projections
rather grim. Once abatement is complete, the next step is to “seal the envelope” of the building to eliminate all sources of
moisture. This requires a new roof, new drainage system, new plumbing and new windows, as well as a new HVAC system to keep
the environment climate controlled. Very preliminary and conservative cost estimates for these steps is $2,057,000. This takes care
of the “bones,” but does not cover finishing out the interior of the building. We do not yet have an estimate for finishing costs.
are In an effort to ensure the safety of our sanitation workers, the City
will be providing all residential sanitation customers a poly-cart
trash receptacle for routine use. The bins will be similar in design to
the one pictured at right, with a 95-gallon capacity and made of
Q: heavy What duty are the construction. next steps?
The goal of having uniform bins at all residences is to ensure a
more standard volume and weight of trash at each pick-up location,
is expected to be complete within two months.
as well as an appropriate receptacle to manage. This will help
prevent injuries to our workers from juggling irregular-sized,
overweight and loose trash items. As is our current policy, all trash
placed in the new bins should be bagged and secured.
Stay tuned for more information on the selection of trash bins and
phased delivery to customers later this summer.
A: City departments will continue to operate in Building D for the time being. As soon as the 911 system installation is complete at
the temporary location, the dispatch crew will join the rest of the staff. Also, construction of the temporary Fire/EMS apparatus bay
As for a permanent solution, a citizens’ committee appointed by the City Commission will be established to evaluate all options and
make recommendations that are most appropriate for the needs of City departments and most desired by taxpayers. This process is
just getting underway, and the Commission has selected a professional facilitation company to help guide the work.
At this point, it’s impossible to estimate a timeframe for the citizens’ committee deliberations or for any subsequent process they
may recommend that involves building renovation or construction. So for now, you can find us at 811 W. Laurel conducting business
as usual. Feel free to stop by, look around, ask questions and share your thoughts.
7:30 a.m. - Independence Civic Center
Monthly community update co-hosted by the City and
Independence Chamber of Commerce.
September Sponsor: Enbridge Energy
Fall Community Cleanup
8 a.m.-3 p.m. - City Sanitation Yard, 21st & Maple.
FREE drop-off of residential waste; electronic waste; tires;
and personal document shredding offered.
City Brush Dump south of town also open to residents.
The average number of drop-offs at monthly recycling day.
Since the recycling effort began in February, more than
29 tons (58,700 pounds) of paper, cardboard, glass, tin
and plastic, along with lots of electronic waste, has been
collected, sorted and delivered by City crews to the
Fredonia recycling center.
Recycling is scheduled the first Saturday of each month
(second Saturday in September due to the Labor Day
weekend) from 8 a.m. to 12 noon at the City Sanitation Yard,
21st & Maple.
Visit the Independence Chamber of Commerce
website for information on what items are recyclable
then come out to see us at the next event!
The number of downtown Independence camera
page views on the valnet.com website since the
company implemented downtown webcams in
October 2014, with the help of Independence
Action Partnership. These include views from
several unique countries, including the United
Kingdom, Canada, Thailand, Germany, Brazil
FREE WiFi service also is provided downtown
on Penn Avenue, between Chestnut and Main.
To connect, simply search for the WiFi hotspot
“Valnet Free WiFi,” open a web browser and
accept the terms of the service page.
Since implementation in October 2014, more
than 6,200 users have connected to the free
The number of years
FORPAZ (Friends of
Riverside Park and Zoo)
has been supporting our
You can join them for the “Forty Paws”
anniversary celebration Saturday, September 10,
at 6:30 p.m. at Logan Fountain. The evening will
include hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, live and
silent auctions. Proceeds will help purchase a
toddler-sized firetruck playground set for the
Guests must be 21 and over, and tickets are
available at squareup.com/market/forpaz-inc.
5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Ralph Mitchell Zoo
Children’s Halloween fun, games & trick-or-treating.
October 13 & 26
City Commission Meetings
5:30 p.m. - Veterans Room/Memorial Hall
Open to the community.
y the numbers
The average number of extra pounds of gear
an Independence police officer carries on his
or her utility belt. Over time, this extra load
concentrated around the waistline can lead to
chronic back pain, headaches and other
physical ailments. That’s why the department
recently began a trial of an “outer vest carrier,”
like the one worn by Officer Jason Goza in the photo to the right (speaking to
the Independence Optimist Club). The vest is designed with insert space for
the officer’s customized body armor panels on the inside, as well as multiple
outer pockets for gear that help better distribute the extra weight but still offer
quick and easy access to the tools of the job. The vest has been
well-received by the officers in the department, but to equip the force,
significant fund-raising will be required. Chief Jerry Harrison reports each vest
costs between $275 and $375.
The year the Kansas PRIDE program was established to assist Kansas
residents with efforts to beautify, enrich and promote their communities.
In Independence, a local volunteer PRIDE committee functions under
the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce. The committee has either
spearheaded or had a hand in a number of community benefit activities,
including LOVE Independence Day; monthly recycling; organized
community clean-up efforts; placement of city entrance signs; and other
While not yet affiliated with Kansas PRIDE, the local committee is
working to grow its membership and will soon complete application to join
the 60 other communities participating in the statewide program. As a
program participant, Independence will have access to educational
resources and expertise; enhanced visibility and promotion; and
opportunities for grant funding to support local projects.
8 a.m.-12 noon - Volunteers meet at Community
National Bank to help spruce up the downtown area.
Bring gloves and wear comfortable clothes.
The total number of tickets
distributed for the “Shenandoah”
concert August 19 at historic
Memorial Hall, co-sponsored by the
City of Independence and the
Independence Chamber of
Commerce Convention & Visitors
Bureau. The legendary country
group and their opening act,
young Kansas native Bryton Stoll,
brought down the house and
brought in the business with out-oftown
concert-goers who patronized
our business establishments.
Nine-day community celebration.
Multiple events and venues.
Visit www.neewollah.com for
schedules and more info.
City of Independence
811 W. Laurel
Independence, KS 67301
per 56-hour work week; benefits.
Firefighter I/EMT: $618.80 per
56-hour work week; benefits.
Patrolman I: Full-time. $15.10/
Water Plant Operator I:
Full-time. $15.40/hour; benefits.
Water Plant Operator Trainee:
Full-time. $13.73/hour; benefits.
Applications are accepted at:
Kansas Works, 317 N. Penn
These old dogs are retiring, while there
is still time to teach a few new tricks
fter much careful thought and more than a little agony,
A Independence Fire Chief Rusty Baker decided what gift he wanted
to give himself for his 60th birthday later this year - freedom!
A 25-year veteran of the department, Rusty has spent the last eight
years in the chief’s role. He recently announced plans to retire effective
November 1, although he intends to stay in close touch with the people
and the community he’s come to love.
“I get so attached to people, especially the people I work with,” Rusty
said. “I love my staff. This was a really hard decision.”
Originally a brick mason by trade, Rusty recalled his life 25 years ago
when he was having trouble finding work locally and had to travel for
jobs. A friend who knew he wasn’t happy encouraged him - several
times - to apply for a firefighter’s job.
“I finally decided to apply in the last hour of the last day they were
taking applications,” he said. “It ended up being the best thing job-wise
that I ever did.”
After retirement, Rusty plans to put more focus into his personal
business, providing professional training services for hunting dogs on his
rural Independence property dubbed Remington Ranch Lodge and
Training Facility. The facility is fondly named after another star in the
Indy fire department, Rusty’s beloved 9-year-old Labrador, Remington,
who joined the crew in 2009 and has been delighting the community
ever since with his smart fire dog tricks.
“We always say we can train Remington to do anything with 30
minutes and a Slim Jim,” Rusty joked.
Stop, drop and roll, ringing the fire truck bell and pulling out the hose
on the ladder truck are just a few of Remington’s best-known tricks.
Assisting with fire
and community fundraisers,
off a ride to school on
the fire truck, are the
kinds of activities
Rusty and Remington
want to stay involved
“I didn’t know
when I came to work
here,” Rusty said.
“The fact that we’re
out doing good for the
community, that’s the
biggest reward for us
all. I don’t want it to
No doubt, we’ll still see Rusty and Remington at our local parades and
community events for a long time to come. And certainly no one can
fault Rusty on his retirement decision. After all, he may be turning only
60, but in dog years, he’s pushing 420!
Congratulations, Rusty (and Remington)!