The Raymore City Council convened for a regular meeting on Monday, October 28.
Councilmember Jason Boehner was absent.
In staff reports, Public Works Director Mike Krass reported that the department is winding down construction season and beginning winter preparations. City Manager Eric Berlin announced that that a Food Drive and Craft Fair event is coming up on Saturday, November 23, at Eagle Glen Intermediate School. It will be sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the City.
The consent agenda passed unanimously, encompassing the re-appointments of Janelle Biernbaum and Bryan Mallory to the Tax Increment Financing Commission and the acceptance of several completed projects.
In unfinished business, the Council voted unanimously to approve the amendment of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget “to provide for additional revenues and expenditures for solid waste collection in the amount of $10,000.” Another budget amendment passed, with Councilman Kevin Kellogg in opposition, approving Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations that occurred in the 2013 fiscal year.
Kellogg also voted in opposition to the Fiscal Year 2014 budget after Council voted to amend it.
Councilmember Ryan Wescoat proposed the amendment, which increased the amount reserved for a recreational center from $500,000 to $1 million.
“I strongly believe that this is the right thing for the City to do,” Wescoat said, referencing the $1.4 million surplus in the undesignated general fund and explaining that dedicating a larger amount would demonstrate to the citizens that “we are committed to this.”
Councilmember Charlene Hubach disagreed with Wescoat, stating that the money ought to go toward things other than “a building.”
She expressed concern over lawns and driveways caving in due to water running beneath them, using that as an example of the type of problems she believes should be addressed over the recreation center.
“I can’t get over…how minimum our standards are,” she said.
Councilmember Sonja Abdelgawad, however, agreed with Wescoat. “I don’t think it’s responsible for us to have $1.4 million just floating around in our accounts,” she said.
“I’m comfortable with earmarking it for a community center at this point.”
Ultimately the amendment passed 4-3, and the budget as amended was approved with all but Kellogg voting in favor.
Of the four remaining matters of old business, three passed unanimously: an award of contract for sanitary sewer inflow and infiltration reduction; a water tower lease agreement with the Mid-America Regional Council for “routine service, upgrades, and handling of emergency situations”; and an amendment to required fireworks signage to include to prohibition of aerial luminaries.
The measure which failed was an amendment proposed by the Park Board regarding smoking in City parks. The amendment would have prohibited smoking except for in paved parking areas. This item was approved in its first reading on October 14 with a vote of 6-2, but this time it failed with a 4-3 vote. Councilmembers Kellogg, Hubach, and Jeff Stevens voted in opposition.
Councilmembers Hubach and Stevens both expressed concerns over personal liberties in explanation for why they opposed the measure.
Councilmember Abdelgawad explained that, without this amendment, smoking is allowed near the playgrounds and trails, which can disrupt play and exercise. She explained that the amendment allows smoking in an area when people do not exercise or relax.
With the failure of the measure, Abdelgawad expressed her disappointment during Mayor/Council Communications at the end of the meeting.
“I’m really disappointed that we voted that down tonight, especially considering that we discussed it in a work session, we discussed it in a work session with the Park Board,” she said.
She added that it is important for the Council not to turn their backs on the Park Board at the last minute. “I really think as a Council, we need to either support the Park Board, or if we don’t support them, then we need to tell them when we have the chance to meet with them, which we have quarterly.”
In new business, Council approved the first reading of a voluntary annexation of property in the Willow Hills Subdivision to be annexed into the City for connection to City water.
Council also approved the re-appointment of the City Prosecutor, William Marshall, as well as the renewal of agreement for legal services as City Attorney with Kapke & Willerth.
Councilmember Derek Moorhead gave strong endorsements of both the City Prosecutor and the City Attorney in support of their re-appointments.
Marshall proposed that his contract be amended so that he is paid a flat rate of $1400 per month, instead of the combination of a monthly and hourly rate. Council agreed with this contract change when they approved the re-appointment.
Regarding the City Attorney, Councilmember Hubach requested discussion of what the expectations are for a City Attorney.
Councilmember Wescoat called for a point of order, saying, “I’m not sure it’s appropriate for you to be involved in this discussion” since Hubach was involved in a lawsuit against the City several years ago, and Willerth was involved.
Ultimately Mayor Peter Kerckhoff allowed the discussion to continue, since Hubach wanted to focus on general expectations, not anything singularly pertaining to City Attorney Joe Willerth.
Councilmember Kellogg asked if there is a job description on file, and in response City Manager Eric Berlin read several examples from the City Code and City Charter of expectations and requirements for the City Attorney.
Councilmember Hubach abstained from the vote, “based on Mr. Wescoat’s sensibilites” she explained, which ultimately approved the reappointment 6-0.
The final item of new business was passed unanimously, revising the City’s contract with the Chamber of Commerce. The revision includes an increase in the City’s yearly contribution to the Chamber from $5,200 to $6,000.
The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 12, at 7:00 PM at Raymore City Hall.