Here’s a quick look at what happened at the Hoisington City Council meeting Monday night:
• Approved via consent agenda the Kipper Birthday Party CMB Consumption Permit for City Auditorium for Birthday Party Backup Venue on July 28, 2019 From 5 to 10 p.m.
• Approved changes to the agenda that included elimination of a discussion about council priorities and the city manager’s report. These were as a result of the absence of the city manager, Jonathan Mitchell, who was out for health reasons.
• Heard comments from two Hoisington residents. Eldred Maresch had concerns about Heritage Park, and Karen VanBrimmer asked the council to consider incentives to keep mowing, weeding and upkeep of residences in compliance with city ordinances.
• Approved the renewal of the CIC agreement at a cost of $20,220, an increase of $335 over the previous year.
• Discussed possible dates for budget work sessions.
• Approved the purchase of a digger truck and needed additional equipment contingent upon the approval of the city manager and the city attorney.
• Considered a request from Hoisington Police Chief Kenton Doze to include funding in the 2019-2020 budget for a seventh full time officer.
HOISINGTON — Last minute adjustments were made to the city council meeting agenda Monday evening due to the absence of City Manager Jonathan Mitchell. Mayor Dalton Popp reported Mitchell was out for health reasons, so the presentation he prepared concerning council priorities for 2019-2020 was removed, as was the city manager’s report.
Added to the agenda was a presentation of a bid for a digger truck by the public works department head, and a request from Police Chief Kenton Doze for a seventh full-time officer to be considered as the council begins meeting for budget study sessions in advance of preparing a budget for the coming year.
During the public comment time, Eldred Maresch, a Hoisington man, inquired about the suggestion made at the June 24 meeting concerning turning a portion of Heritage Park into free buildable lots in order to encourage new construction. The idea was introduced as one of several proposed priorities the council could consider when determining the upcoming 2019-2020 budget.
Mayor Dalton Popp responded that each year, Mitchell asks council members to prioritize what are the most important concerns for the city so at budget time they are taken into consideration. The suggestion came as the city fields inquiries for additional free buildable lots, now that the lots at the McKenna Meadows subdivision have been depleted.
Maresch inquired where the idea came from, and, noting the City Manager’s notes attached to the meeting agenda packet stating it appeared the suggestion would likely not be a priority at this time, he asked if it would become one again in the future.
Popp stated while he did not know who originally advanced the idea to Mitchell, it’s importance had inadvertently been elevated in discussion for the simple fact it had appeared for the first time, and council members had questions. It was an option that would not require the city to incur the expense of installing utilities to the site: sewer, water and street infrastructure.
Council member Jim Morris added that he was not in favor of the idea.
“It’s a park,” he said. “You don’t mess with a park.”
Maresch stated after a recent tour of the city’s parks, he and his wife took note of the comparative lack of attention Heritage park has received from the city, and asked when the basketball court lighting would be fixed. He was informed the lights had been fixed that week after the city finally received replacement parts that had been ordered weeks earlier.
Maresch thanked the council for their time and agreed more public involvement with improving the park would be appreciated.
Karen VanBrimmer, a former council person, asked the council come up with an incentive program to help people keep up on the maintenance of their homes appearances. With several houses in the city for sale, she wondered why they aren’t selling. She noted that while the city does offer an incentive program, many people aren’t aware of how to apply or utilize these resources.
Additional officer requested
Hoisington Police Chief Kenton Doze renewed a request he’d withdrawn two years ago to increase the number of full time officers to seven. Currently, there are six, and one part time officer. At that time, the city was concerned with fire department issues that have since been resolved, he said.
In the past two years, the police department has seen an uptick in the number of drug-related search warrants from 13 last year, to nine drug warrants already this year, Doze said.
“When we do a search warrant, it takes a minimum of four, usually five, and sometimes all six of us to execute a search warrant depending on what we are searching for and searching with,” Doze said. Because of this, some search warrants have been delayed as he scrambles to ensure proper coverage for the city while it is carried out.
“Manpower has been an issue with us for quite a long time,” Doze said. “Just this year, there as one month that we took five sex-crimes cases, and that took a lot of man hours.”
In August, Officer Chris Bruner will be going to the state police academy, he said. In addition, earlier this summer a part-time officer left for a full time position with the Barton County Sheriff’s Department because he could not wait for a full time opening with Hoisington. Since then, Doze has been seeking another part time officer on.
In 1991 when Doze came to the department and up until a few years ago, there were seven officers. This is the longest period the department has been without seven officers, he said.
Darren Reinert asked if Doze could provide a breakdown of overtime hours, so the council could determine if overtime hours exceed what an extra officer would cost the city. He added that it could underscore the need for additional help. Doze and City Clerk Donita Crutcher determined it would be possible. Doze thanked the council for their consideration.