By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Larned Mayor Robert Pivonka said he wants to continue work for the growth and development of Larned in his re-election campaign. Pivonka will oppose Taylene VanNorden in the April 6 election.
“Over the past several years we have seen growth both in the business and population of the city,” he said. “However, this will not continue unless we all work together to see that is does.”
Pivonka said he understands citizens’ concern about the city’s tax collection, which pays for local fire, emergency and police protection. From 1998 to 2013, the city’s tax levy rate for the city of Larned has decreased 18.32 mills, according to Pivonka.
“We have all been criticized because of our high taxes,” he said. “In the total they are high, but not the highest in the state as some will try to have you believe. Effort should be made to reduce them, and not curtail needed services to the city.”
One way to keep taxes from going higher is through recent city council decision to approve a voluntary annexation contract to be offered to property owners that are outside of the current city limits.
“This is an effort to help Larned grow by expanding our city limits and thereby insuring any future growth will be inside the city and benefit our tax structure,” Pivonka said. “These contracts are primarily targeted to the owners of undeveloped land that attaches to the current city limits. This voluntary annexation would insure that added improvements and growth would be in the city.” Pivonka said has an ardent proponent of developing local housing. Overland Property Group will develop 20 units of three-bedroom rental duplexes on 39 acres at Eighth and Morris.
“I will continue to work for, and complete, is the projected housing improvement designed for the western edge of the city. These units will not be low-income restricted, but will be for the medium to moderate income families. We are not unique in western Kansas for not having this type of rental property available. However, our need is great and this will help in the current hiring efforts of our Larned State Complex, and other prime employers. Adequate, quality, rental housing is very important.”
Pivonka said there is constant attention to reduce the costs in various departments.
“Our city manager, Lane Massey, is working with our various department heads to find ways to operate more efficiently and share personnel between departments,” Pivonka said. “This should enable us to bring down operating costs. Major reductions cannot be made with out reduction of services.”
Pivonka said the city of Larned will continue to explore ways to cooperate with Pawnee County and Fort Larned USD 495 to combine any services.
“This is already being done, but hopefully can be expanded for the benefit of all the entities and taxpayers,” he said.
Pivonka said any citizen with questions can call him at 620-285-6039.
“Together we can work for a better community,” he said.