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remarkable

United States

#1 Jun 20, 2008
I keep hearing these rumors about things that are going to happen, and I really cant believe them to be true but when you hear them everywhere you go, you start to wonder.
The latest rumor is one that really concerns me, and should concern every citizen of fort scott.
It has been rumored that mr eric baley, is about to be made assistant city manager. It seems the new city manager ( joe turner) is being told every move he can make by mr baley and what he can and cant do.
If the new city manager isnt able to handle this little town did the commission do the right thing hireing him?
I think something is really screwed up with this,and I hope this is not the case.
But like I said it makes you wonder, also it makes you think something is really wrong when people are talking this much about an individual who in the city and about some of the ridiculas things he does.
It is also rumored that the city commission gave the new city manager a list of things he was to get done soon after comeing to Fort Scott, and that they are dissapointed that things are moveing so slow?,,,,
Its a fact that the morale of the public work employees is at an all time low, and alot of it is from ( or at least im told) wages and the fact that the city wont come up to the scale they diserve. high gas prices, high everything and low wages makes for very unhappy people no doubt about it, its funny the city paid for a wage study 3 years AGO and have sat on it all this time, what a waste of money but at least it takes on the apperance they were gonna do something,,,,and i am told mr baley will sit on a evaluatuion sometimes for months before doing anything with it so an employees can get a yearly piddling wage increase of possably 3%.of which they have to earn 2% by doing volentere work in the community .
what a slap in the face 3% isnt anything, if your makeing $10. 00 per hour thats .30 cents big deal, there is some real incentive to work harder huh?,,,,,,,,,of course he is on a big salary so it dosent matter, he gets paid weither he is there or not, I think the people need to keep voteing in new commissioners untill we get some that are willing to do the right thing and quit babying people who do nothing but cause grief for poor hard working employees like mr baley seems to want to do constantly. what do we need a director of public works for anyway?,,cant the city manager do anything or is he too good to handle the concerns of the citizens?
Nick Graham

United States

#2 Jun 20, 2008
A thirty-something Public Works director telling a guy with many decades of experience in City Management what he can and cannot do? Of all the insane rumors that come my way, this one ranks highly. I can guarantee that isn't happening, nor is anybody being promoted to Assistant City Manager unless nobody bothered to tell me about it, which is pretty unlikely.

I can also tell you there isn't any list of things to accomplish that we gave the City Manager to do after he took office. I personally sent him some stuff I thought was a priority to get done (the item below being one of them) before he started working here, and thus far he's already put quite a bit of work into them. I could even e-mail you a copy if you'd like, but it was just a personal e-mail from me, nothing official from the Commission or anything like that.

At the first budget work session a month ago, the City Manager presented us his plan to get wages in line with where the salary study said they needed to be. We spent over an hour going over it, and there is a plan in place to be implemented into the new budget. Do I wish it had been done sooner? Yeah - in fact if you look at meeting minutes over the last couple of years, you can see where I've asked for updates on where we were at with the salary study. Thankfully Joe (who is a numbers man first and foremost with his account experience) literally started putting something together with the Finance Director his first week in office, which I thought was pretty cool.
Pedro

Greenville, SC

#3 Jun 20, 2008
Nick,
So you basically sent the city manager your plan for the AC? We all know how that fits into your agenda. Why dont you cut and paste the email into this thread so we all can read it.
Pedro
Nick Graham

United States

#4 Jun 20, 2008
Pedro, haven't we gone around in circles enough on the pool? Do you think that is truly my one and only priority on the Commission?
Regardless, posting it wasn't a bad suggestion, so have at it (though some stuff has changed since I wrote it, such as the animal shelter, as the Yeager estate money is now available and the Friends of the Animal Shelter will be working on getting the new shelter done and operating it):
PROJECTS
We have got multiple projects we are juggling, some of which are on the front burner, some of which are on the back burner, and some of which that in my opinions should have been dealt with years ago that never got addressed in the previous decades. Iíll start with the bigger ones I have been involved with and go from there. The order does not indicate priority.

Sales Tax Initiative

Past

Last summer (June to be precise) we had a 1 cent sales tax increase on the ballot.
8/10 of the increase was to fund a 6.5 million dollar aquatic center that would have had
a full outside pool area, an indoor competition sized pool for year-round swim-meets for the
area schools and the schools they compete with, and a temperature controlled therapy pool
to be used by Mercy hospital and other health group for rehabilitation and aquatic therapy).
The other 2/10 was for Economic Development, which was not well defined and really vaguely
worded.

Unfortunately, the ballot proposal did not pass (though this turned out to be a big blessing in disguise). The vision team, which I was a part of until I started my job in Pittsburg, poured in hours and hours of time and fundraising into it, and they were crushed. I think another big part is that a facility that complex was going to have to be very well ran and operated, and I think a lot of people in the community thought it was too big of an operation for the city to keep on top of. I heard from many that they would support an aquatic center, just not one that took up and entire 8th of the increased tax burden and one that cost so much. We were at a disadvantage from the start, as out sales tax is already at 7.3%, so jumping to 8.3% ties us with highest in the state I believe.

Future

Dale is working with the vision teams and other community groups on multi-project sales
tax initiative that would likely include a scaled down city pool, but just as importantly would
deal with many other areas we are badly behind on, from streets and infrastructure to making
it a lot more attractive for people to place businesses downtown. Nothing is finalized yet, but
with enough support we can kill several birds with one stone in terms of breathing some
life back into both economic development and quality of life.
Nick Graham

United States

#5 Jun 20, 2008
Railroad Overpass
For all of my life Fort Scott has been essentially split down the middle by railroad tracks. This wasnít ever much more than an occasional nuisance to the public for a long time, but a few years ago that changed. In the last few years, train traffic has exploded at an exponential rate, and what was once an occasional nuisance is now a HUGE nuisance to anyone living on the east side of town, as the only way to the west side of town if there is a train (or two) on the tracks is the underpass on 3rd street. Some in town tried to present it as some sort of major safety issue, Saying ďWhat if there were trains stopped on the tracks, the underpass was flooded, and a
fire truck or ambulance couldnít get across town during an emergency?! While this scenario has
never happened to my knowledge, it has become a big quality of life issue, as there are many times during the day when the town is essentially cut in half from trains going, stopping, etc. When I worked at Great West (now Cigna) and lived (where currently reside) on the east side,
it was not uncommon to get stuck behind a train both when I went home for lunch and when I
went home for the day.
KDOT and the railroad company funded and completed a corridor study for us, and we now have the info on where the ideal locations for an overpass would be, how much each option would cost, and how to put a plan together to get one. The cost would be somewhere around 5 million, and the current strategy is to have all the engineering studies and prep work done so that when KDOT passes their next comprehensive transportation plan in 2009 (a portion of which will be for projects such as this), that we have all our ducks in a row and our request goes straight of the top of the pile. To get to that point, there is a lot of prep work and
engineering that will need done, so the City Manager is going to be the point man on coordinating it all. Dale has been doing what he can to keep this project going during our time without a full time City Manager.
Employee Wages
Shortly upon being elected to the Commission, I came to the quick realization that compared to
the cities around us of similar size, our wages for our employees were likely not competitive with other communities in some departments. To this end I proposed we have the League of Kansas Municipalities do a wage study for us, which the Commission approved. That was in 2005. We didnít get the results back until last summer (not sure why it took that long), and they confirmed my suspicions Ė we were behind the curve on what we pay our employees in multiple areas. I would really like to start catching them up when we prepare the next budget.
Police and Fire Building Space Issues
Many moons ago (I believe the early nineties) the city received a grant to build a new public safety building. This became the Hawkins Public Safety Building by Sonic on the south side of town. At the time it was decided to put both the police and fire departments into that building. As such, everyone is packed in there like sardines, and itís just not the most conducive working environment for either department. The small east side fire station about to be completed on the east side will allow some stuff to be moved out of the main building, but not really enough to address the crux of the issue, which is that both departments need their own building, or if a bigger building if they are to stay together.
Nick Graham

United States

#6 Jun 20, 2008
New City Hall

As you have likely noticed, having City Hall be in the dungeon of Memorial Hall isnít the most appealing first impression to give to outsiders. A committee headed up by Dick Hedges has
been looking at buildings we might move into, as well as the possibility of a new building. Mayor Hedges could probably give you a good idea of where we are at with that project, and youíll notice that Dale has included some funding for the remodeling of an existing building into the sales tax initiative he has been looking into doing.

Animal Shelter

The current animal shelter is pretty old, beat up, and and is in a poor location overall. Shirley Yeager, a resident and Friend Of The Animal Shelter who passed away a few years back left money in her will for a new Animal Shelter, but unfortunately it has been tied up in legal issues ever since her passing. We are still in need of a new shelter even if that money never evades its legal red tape, but Iím hoping there are grants out there to address it. Basically, this just one of those projects thatís been put off year after year and that we finally need to just deal with, in my opinion.
Nick Graham

United States

#7 Jun 20, 2008
Sorry for the mess of text - Word documents don't paste well into this forum's format, but it's all there.

First part is on the sales tax initiative, followed by railroad overpass, then employee wages, then police and fire dept space issues, then animal shelter, then new City Hall. Though, as I point out at the beginning, they aren't listed in order of priority, as to me they are all huge priorities.
like2b_onree

Girard, KS

#8 Jun 20, 2008
Shirley Yeagers money was "tied up" because of our former city manager who wanted to use it for other purposes of his own preferences, even though in her will it was earmarked for animal care improvements.

The last thing Dick Hedges wants is to have city hall in another old building, especially the former junior high, that's why he is the head of that committee. The real agenda here is a brand new building.

The railroad overpass is just simply to expensive, better go back to getting a railroad quiet zone for the crossings.

People would be crazy to pass a sales tax increase before they see how high their heating bills will be this winter. When gas goes up like it has, so do the heating bills!!
HereThereEverywh ere

Fort Scott, KS

#9 Jun 20, 2008
Gosh, I wish the local employers would do a wage study (many don't even have a 3% increase per year) and up the wages they pay to meet those in neighboring communities and at that point we might be able to pay the taxes to support all the priorities for the City. I would at this point support the City buying the old Middle School to house the City offices and to address the police and fire department space issues and maybe the library (doesn't anybody else ever go to the library as no one ever mentions it) since the building is outdated and too small.
like2b_onree

Girard, KS

#10 Jun 20, 2008
everytime I go to the local library I get depressed.
Here's a great idea, combine the local library and the college library together and make that available to everyone.
After all, it is our local taxes that support the college library too.
remarkable

United States

#11 Jun 20, 2008
3% would be nice if that was the true fact, but remember only 1% of that is automatic, and 3 % if your makeing what eric baley, bob johnston, bob farmer susan brown or joe turner, is alot different from the grunts out there on the street, doing all the work, it isnt half of what these people make. so be careful when you start thinking public work personel have it made!
they are not in the same wage class, also i cant believe mr grahmn did you say you personaly sent the new city manager a list you wanted done?,,,,,,,i cant believe you admitted that on here of all places,,,but what the hell, if you want to live in patyon place your in the right town buddy, might as well keep them rose colored glasses on, cause your blind as everyone else if you think things are getting any better,,,,,,,
Pedro

Wichita, KS

#12 Jun 21, 2008
Nick,
It seems in your AC description that the outside pool would be used by the swim team and the inside "heated" pools will be used by Mercy and the other health affiliates, where exactly would the general public fit in? Its sounds as it was described a long time ago, that the general public would have to squeeze in when they could, when the AC was not rented out for parties and such or being used for therapy. No offense but it sounds like someone in the commission has been hanging out with some Mercy therapy folks and maybe getting their palms greased to try to get this passed. How much time does the swim team use the present pool for their events?
The scenario of "3rd street being flooded and no ambulance getting through" has been proposed by a few I know, long before you now quote it. But, yeah you can use it when argueing for an East side overpass. IF someone considered important on the East side died due to that scenario then the city might actually consider taking it seriously. Wrongful death or depraved indifference suits work wonders on government agencies, make them pay and they get results.
The unfortunate thing about the city workers wages is, there isnt anything else in town to compete with it, no better paying available jobs so people up to this point have had to work for substandard wages AND draw SRS benefits to get by, just like most that work at Walmart do.
The city hall has done just fine where its at for alot of years. I would like to hear the arguement on why the city offices are not sufficient. IF the building they are located in is substandard then maybe you should get it up to code and fix it up instead of always wanting to build a "bigger and better" brand new building.
As to the fire department needing space, move them to the other "unmanned" building...change the "unmanned" to "manned" or start a "pennies for the fireman" program.
The answer to the library for me would be to close the public library and move the books to the college. 9 out of 10 people in todays society get their information off the internet instead of a book, but, if they want a book have the college library available to the public also.
Nick, I dont see many of these as being a HUGE priority, the AC doesnt even belong in the list. Fix the old pool like others have suggested and let Mercy build their own therapy pool. The voter's told you NO once and it should die right there.
Nick Graham

Fort Scott, KS

#13 Jun 21, 2008
Like2Be,

The Yeager money was tied up in legal issues even after all the issues with the previous CM. It was all intra-family legal stuff going on if I recall, which was a blessing in disguise, as it made whatever anybody wanted to do with it a moot point at the time. By the time it was actually available, there were new people involved with the situation and the political aspect was gone.

Also, on the City Hall front, the idea of building a new building hasn't really been on the table for a while, as cost-wise it just wouldn't be doable with the other stuff we also have to take care of.
At this point the general plan (should it ever happen) would be to renovate an existing building.

The idea of looking into merging the FSCC library and the Public Library has been tossed around longer than I have been in office, but to my knowledge no one has really pursued it. It would be worth investigating, IMO.

The overpass is doable, it's just a matter of getting state funding, which will hopefully be doable.

Pedro,

The east side fire station is being manned, as for using it to solve the police/fire space issues, it has been discussed at length. The paper had a big article on the meeting we had about what our options were with manning the east side fire station a few weeks ago.

Any new city pool is gonna be just that, a new city pool. Nothing indoor, heated etc, unless somebody wants to donate a couple of million bucks. As for public desire, I just got the new Comprehensive Plan today, which had the results of the survey sent out by the firm we had do the plan, and in the parks and recreation section, the pool smoked every option as the one that "should receive the most emphasis from City Leaders over the next two years".

Remarkable,

Is it so weird for a City Commissioner to send the City Manager a list of stuff he has been working on and is interested in doing? Keep in mind I am only one voice in five, and everybody has different stuff they are concerned about, so just because I see something as a priority, doesn't mean the Commission as a whole does.

We had a work session 3-4 weeks ago where the City Manager went over his plans for raising employee salaries and making the city a more attractive place to work. The newspaper (regrettably) did not do a story on it, but it was discussed for over an hour and there are programs being put into place to address it. Granted they should have been put in place long before I ever came on, but they are at least being dealt with. You've also given things a whopping three months to change overnight. There's not a lot of major change that the City Manager can implement until he has a budget he actually had some input and direction in, and that will be the 2009 budget.

If you are unhappy where you work, I am sorry, but I do think things will improve with the new budget and wage policies we are putting into place. At the same time, stirring up stuff and posting wild rumors like the Public Works director becoming Assistant City Manager and dictating to the City Manager what he can and cannot do doesn't really accomplish much, does it?
Kathy Dancer

Wichita, KS

#14 Jun 21, 2008
Nick,
Although the animal shelter is just a sliver of what you are addressing in this thread, it caught my eye. As a board member of the Friends group, I am wondering where you are getting your information about the animal shelter and/or the Yeager Friends group from. Maybe you should email me, because what you are posting is not accurate.
Nick Graham

Fort Scott, KS

#15 Jun 21, 2008
Kathy, I'll e-mail you. We've discussed it at Commission meeting a couple of times, so I'll see where I'm getting my wires crossed.
like2b_onree

Girard, KS

#16 Jun 21, 2008
testing
like2b_onree

Girard, KS

#17 Jun 21, 2008
my reply dissappeared into the internet black hole, so I'm reposting it. If it appears twice blame the sometimes strange ways of internet messaging.

Nick,
You will be well advised to take a prescribed dose of skepticism to help prevent half-truthes,spin,and most importantly to avoid becoming political fodder for someone else.

[quote]Nick, Animal Shelter

The current animal shelter is pretty old, beat up, and and is in a poor location overall. Shirley Yeager, a resident and Friend Of The Animal Shelter who passed away a few years back left money in her will for a new Animal Shelter, but unfortunately it has been tied up in legal issues ever since her passing. We are still in need of a new shelter even if that money never evades its legal red tape, but Iím hoping there are grants out there to address it. Basically, this just one of those projects thatís been put off year after year and that we finally need to just deal with, in my opinion.[/quote]

The "political aspect" doesn't look like it's gone, as evidenced below by your promotion(or spin as some would say) of the money for animal care improvements.
Making things right is the correct spin on this ball.
like2b_onree

Girard, KS

#18 Jun 21, 2008
Nick quote(The Yeager money was tied up in legal issues even after all the issues with the previous CM. It was all intra-family legal stuff going on if I recall, which was a blessing in disguise, as it made whatever anybody wanted to do with it a moot point at the time. By the time it was actually available, there were new people involved with the situation and the political aspect was gone.)
Pedro

Wichita, KS

#19 Jun 22, 2008
Quote-Nick..Any new city pool is gonna be just that, a new city pool. Nothing indoor, heated etc, unless somebody wants to donate a couple of million bucks. As for public desire, I just got the new Comprehensive Plan today, which had the results of the survey sent out by the firm we had do the plan, and in the parks and recreation section, the pool smoked every option as the one that "should receive the most emphasis from City Leaders over the next two years".-Unquote.
Who exactly gets the survey? In my group of friends and family that I talked to, none received one of the surveys, nor myself. How many surveys were sent out? Break out the copy machine and send out the less than 8k surveys needed to get EVERYONE's opinion on the matter. If you can spend $1.5k on a special election to try to get it passed last time, why not spend a few bucks on copies to see what the voters actually want?
Quote-The city hall has done just fine where its at for alot of years. I would like to hear the arguement on why the city offices are not sufficient. IF the building they are located in is substandard then maybe you should get it up to code and fix it up instead of always wanting to build a "bigger and better" brand new building.
-Unquote.
Any comment Nick?
Nick Graham

Fort Scott, KS

#20 Jun 22, 2008
Pedro, I'll found out how the Comprehensive Plan surveys were sent out. Based on the age results, we cut a pretty good swath from twentysomethings to seniors (the majority of those who filled out the survey and returned it were seniors). If anyone would like, post and e-mail addie and I'll scan and send the survey results as well as the comments that came with them (no names are on them, just the comments).

As for City Hall, the building isn't falling down or anything, but it's not handicap accessible, and no matter how much fresh paint is applied, is a 70 year old basement to an auditorium. I'm not even advocating building a new building - there are plenty of vacant ones that can be renovated.

Like2Be,

I just got back an e-mail from Kathy. The Yeager money is now int he SEK Community Foundation endowment, which means that since it is an endowment, it appears only the interest can be drawn from and not the prinicipal. I was always under the impression all of the money was available to us now, so we'll have to see what can and can't be used. I honestly wasn't trying to spin anything - the animal shelter is in a bad way and we need to do something about it. It should have been done long ago (and in fact attempts were made by folks who cared, but a bunch of political BS killed progress).

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