Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2009

City Council candidates provide views

February 26, 2009

Kevin Honomichl

Occupation:  President of a civil engineering and surveying firm.

Education, community service, volunteerism: BS in civil engineering from Kansas State University, master’s in civil engineering Kansas University, eight years on De Soto Planning Commission and chairman for three years. Board Member of Sunflower Redevelopment Authority.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

I want to see De Soto continue to take proactive steps in terms of economic development, diversifying the tax base, and building community. I think that my experience on the planning commission as well as my occupation give me the tools to help with these matters.

Do you favor either of the two options (now three with a regional water district) the council is considering?

Last week the City Council approved a motion to stay in the water business and abandon the pursuit of a wholesale agreement with the City of Olathe. My focus will be on making the city successful with this decision.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

Water infrastructure must be a top priority. This is a significant decision and must be viewed as a business decision. Staying in the water treatment and supply business is not just about providing the citizens a domestic water supply. We now must turn our attention to developing a business plan to support the investment.

We must be aware of two competitive factors and how that will affect the financial performance of the project and the risk to the taxpayers. We must be able to produce water at a rate that will make De Soto a competitive commercial supplier. This is critical to attracting industries and research opportunities where water consumption is a cost consideration. We must also produce water at a rate that is competitive with other regional providers to gain the business of other distributors, such as Rural Water 6.

Beyond water, I think that our transportation infrastructure is important. We need to complete a transportation study to understand and prioritize future transportation infrastructure including roads, pedestrian and bicycle ways, and transit options. Our transportation links, including K-10, 83rd Street, Kill Creek Road, rail, and other connections are vital to our economic development. It is important that we understand the real relationships between economic development opportunities and our transportation network, and how to take advantage of our strengths.

The city has used tax abatements, industrial revenue bonds, and has tax increment financing policy all meant to attract businesses and/or industrial development to De Soto? What more should the city do to draw the badly needed businesses that would take the tax burden off of homeowners?

We need to focus those incentives on the types of development opportunities that we are likely to attract, and those that present a manageable risk for the taxpayers. We know that we have constraints that will limit significant retail growth in the near term, so those are likely higher risk options. Research and manufacturing uses have been successful in De Soto and have expanded our tax base without disproportionately increasing the burden on city services or our schools. I also think that there is merit in developing strong public/private partnerships to spur redevelopment of certain areas and to boost specific types of housing needs. I believe that these options must be considered to help drive the objectives of the city, but must be based on good financial analysis, not just a specific development opportunity that may arise. I believe that my experience with these situations will be a benefit to De Soto.

Ronald L. McDaniel

Occupation: Retired Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co district sales manager

Education, community service, volunteerism: 1959 De Soto High School graduate, past president of the De Soto Cemetery Board.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

To preserve our water utility, which I believe will control our growth in the future for new tax base.

Do you favor either of the two options (now three with a regional water district) the council is considering and why?

Favored the renovation of the Sunflower plant.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

Water, water lines, streets, sidewalks and other city infrastructure.

The city has used tax abatements, industrial revenue bonds, and has tax increment financing policy all meant to attract businesses and/or industrial development to De Soto? What more should the city do to draw the badly needed businesses that would take the tax burden off of homeowners?

We need new businesses and need to communicate with the taxpayers.

Doug Pickert

Occupation: Landscape architect

Family: Wife, Janet, two children

Education, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Kansas State University, 1991, De Soto Park and Recreation member 2004-2007

Is there any single issue that led you to run for the council?

While certain issues are more pressing at a given time, all issues affecting the city must be considered together in choosing a course of action. My goal if chosen for the Council will be to offer a broad understanding of many issues and a desire to work with City staff, the Council members, and the citizens to make good decisions.

Do you favor either of the two options (now three with a regional water district) the council is considering and why?

he Council last week chose to move forward with renovations to the existing water treatment plant and to stay in the water production business. With recent knowledge of the uncertainties related to the option of purchasing water from Olathe, I do believe that the Council made the best possible choice. That being said, citizens should understand that the success of this or any other option lies in the many choices yet to be made, which will affect implementation of the plan and the ability to provide quality water at affordable rates.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

1) Continue to analyze the water production issues, make good decisions for the long-term efficiencies of the water plant, and study the possibilities of a regional water district supplied by the Sunflower plant, which would increase our customer base, 2) Continue progress on Downtown improvements and development of Riverfest Park to the greatest extent that our budget will allow, including aggressively seeking grants to help stretch local funds. If we can find a reasonable way to fund these and other items, the bidding climate makes this a good time to invest in our city.

The city has used tax abatements, industrial revenue bonds, and has tax increment financing policy all meant to attract businesses and/or industrial development to De Soto? What more should the city do to draw the badly needed businesses that would take the tax burden off of homeowners?

Aggressively pursue the targeted bio-science industries and find creative ways to make the Commerce Park area more appealing and affordable for potential retail businesses. As well, we must look for ways to provide quality, affordable housing for new employees that would come with any new industry.

W.R. Sam Tyler

Occupation:: Retired engraver

Education, community service, volunteerism: De Soto High School, De Soto Blue Lodge.

Is there any single issue that led you to run for the council?

The water plant. But now that issue has been resolved, I would like to return to our small town ways not be an extension of Overland Park

Do you favor either of the two options (now three with a regional water district) the council is considering and why?

Favored the renovation of the Sunflower water plant.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

The size of city government is a concern. We need to fix or replace our water and sewer lines, for the new sewer plant, get our two cleanup days back they said we couldn’t afford (but city can come up for funds for hot dogs in the park).

The city has used tax abatements, industrial revenue bonds, and has tax increment financing policy all meant to attract businesses and/or industrial development to De Soto? What more should the city do to draw the badly needed businesses that would take the tax burden off of homeowners?

Find ways to draw large businesses that pay good wages that would hire a large percentage of local people through tax abatements or bonds. No matter who you vote for please encourage everyone you know to just vote and also please attend your city council meeting. You will be surprised what a difference you can make.

Rick Walker

Occupation: Transportation engineer

Education, community service, volunteerism: Eight years on De Soto USD 232 Board of Education and one year on the De Soto Planning Commission.

Is there any single issue that led you to run for the council?

I was not spurred to run by any particular issue. The Friday before the filing deadline there were only 3 candidates listed for the 2 open positions. To have a meaningful election and true representation I felt it was important to have more choice than this, so on Monday morning, I filed. Apparently a number of others felt the same way given the number of candidates.

Do you favor either of the two options (now three with a regional water district) the council is considering and why?

I haven’t made up my mind on the water issue yet. I don’t necessarily like the thought of another entity in control the Community’s ability to grow but we cannot afford to say we are going to keep our own water treatment plant no matter what the cost. The idea of a regional water district sounds interesting, but I need to learn more about it. We must consider the long term, and how we can most effectively provide water service to our businesses, residents, and provide for growth in our community.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

The city has come a long way in developing a working five-year CIP. My infrastructure priorities will most likely be guided by the CIP.

The city has used tax abatements, industrial revenue bonds, and has tax increment financing policy all meant to attract businesses and/or industrial development to De Soto? What more should the city do to draw the badly needed businesses that would take the tax burden off of homeowners?

I would like to see the city regain a grocery store. We can look into grants and/or some form of community owned co-operative. There has to be some way we can make this work. I don’t know if it’s possible in the immediate future, but I will work toward that in whatever way I can as a member of the City Council.

Stephanie Weaver

Occupation: Western regional sales manager

Education, community service, volunteerism:Bi-lingual, lifelong resident of Kansas, concerned citizen.

Is there any single issue that led you to run for the council?

After talking to fellow De Soto residents it seems we share the same frustration. There is a large segment of the population that wants our business base to grow.

Do you favor either of the two options (now three with a regional water district) the council is considering and why?

In our economy’s current condition both at the national and state level, we should go with the most fiscally responsible option. Although our long-term goal should be to have a water facility independent from other cities, our No. 1 priority should be to limit spending and to focus on being fiscally conservative.

What would be your infrastructure priorities if elected?

To expand and implement a sewer and water line system, which will help attract new business.

The city has used tax abatements, industrial revenue bonds, and has tax increment financing policy all meant to attract businesses and/or industrial development to De Soto? What more should the city do to draw the badly needed businesses that would take the tax burden off of homeowners?

From the perspective of the De Soto residents, I represent these options have not been extended in an efficient manner to prospective businesses.

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