Andover City Council approves resolution

After considerable discussion and several iterations, the Andover City Council approved Tuesday evening a resolution which will add a question to the Nov. 4 ballot on levying a one percent retailers’ sales tax in the City of Andover.
The sales tax would fund unfunded capital improvement projects and would provide property tax relief.
The resolution’s original wording went through some tweaks and changes before settling on verbiage that dictates at least 25 percent of the expected proceeds from such tax to be budgeted each year to pay items otherwise payable from the ad valorem property tax levy of the city.
Some of the capital improvements that could be funded through this sales tax include a new street shop, parking lot lights at 13th Street Park, bathrooms at Central Park and the purchase of land south of Highway 54 for a park.
Stout felt the resolution needed mechanisms in place stating intent and guarantees to the public.
Stout stated, “In watching what Wichita has done, I think they did it right in the sense that the support was garnered before they had this vote.”
He said Wichita garnered public support for “the items that were going to be talked about with capital improvement projects....There was a clear cut reason for the tax.”
Stout went on to say, “Plus, it has a sunset. The resolution before us tonight does not have any of those mechanisms in place.”
“As the resolution sits today I cannot support it. I would ask that we would table this to another workshop so that we can put some mechanisms in place to make sure that there are guarantees to the public and their hard-earned money that they know where it’s going to go to,” said Stout.
In response, Mayor Ben Lawrence said the street shop is the most immediate capital improvement need.
He said the list of capital improvements “was all born from our need for infrastructure for our employees. It was also born of what the community has said they wanted here in Andover through our collaborative effort in our parks committee, master park plan update, our comprehensive plan update.”
Lawrence went on to say, “It’s really up to you guys to prioritize what you want on that capital improvement list. I believe we’ve already asked the community what they wanted and they’ve told us.”
Lawrence noted this tax could mean 15 to 20 percent of property tax burden being eliminated.
Council Member Kris Estes differentiated this resolution from what Wichita has done.
She said Wichita “is going to devote a certain amount of money to developing jobs, and that is a very squishy thing. It’s not trusted.
“I’d rather build a building than say I’m going to create 50 jobs and I don’t know how yet,” said Estes. “We’re saying we’re gonna build things. We’re gonna make Andover better. We want parks. We want restrooms in the park. We need a street maintenance building. These are things you’re gonna see and things where people are gonna see progress.”
Estes said Andover’s resolution is “more about buildings and programs and things you’ll see and use.
“The only reason I’d support a sales tax increase is because there is going to be some property tax relief. Whether it’s 20, 25 percent of that revenue that goes towards that. That’s better than zero,” she said.
The resolution passed four to one, with Stout voting no.
The City Council also:
• approved the 2015 proposed budget.
• approved an ordinance attesting to an increase in tax revenues for budget year 2015.
• approved an ordinance modifying K.S.A. 58-3212, exempting the City of Andover from provisions relating to the duties of responsible parties of recreational trails.
• approved a road purchase agreement with Raymond Oil.
• approved a Kansas Department of Transportation agreement for a pedestrian-bicycle path.
• approved Triplett, Woolf and Garretson to represent the City’s rights for the rail trail project.
• heard a presentation by Air Medical, owner of EagleMed, about their membership program. Starting at $65 per year, everyone in a program member’s household would have out-of-pocket expenses for air medical flights covered if flown by AirMed.