Roeland Park council adopts 2017 budget after shortening length of capital plan in series of split votes

Roeland Park city council member Ryan Kellerman proposed a city vote on bond issues to support capital projects.
Roeland Park city council member Ryan Kellerman proposed a city vote on bond issues to support capital projects.

Roeland Park agreed to adopt its 2017 budget Monday night, but not unanimously and only after the council split on the prospect of future bond use and the length of a capital improvement plan (CIP).

None of the council members objected to the specific 2017 budget, which plans to hold the tax rate at 33.385 mills for 2017.

The division among the council came over a 10-year CIP plan that was included in a detailed budget document that contained not only information on the funds for 2017, but goals and objectives and the list of capital projects for years beyond 2017.

The CIP plan relied partially on a series of three $2 million bonds. The council first voted to cut the CIP plan, which shows projects and estimated costs for each year, back to a 7-year plan that would only rely on two bond issues rather than three. That passed on a 4-3 vote (Councilor Tim Janssen was absent).

City Administrator Keith Moody said the capital plan will be reviewed each year. “(It) is not carved in stone,” he said. “You are sending a message (with the plan).”

Councilor Michael Rhoades then asked for a chart to be added in the budget document that shows the cost of the city tax on a typical home in Roeland Park compared to other cities. That amendment was approved.

Councilor Ryan Kellerman then suggested that the public vote on the two $2 million bond issues projected over the 7-year CIP life. That brought advice from the city attorney that bond counsel would have to be consulted to determine if a city-wide vote was legal.

Rhoades then said he wanted to cut the CIP plan down to four years and only one bond issue. Before he could offer an amendment, the question was called on adopting the budget and that vote failed to get a majority.

When Rhoades got to make his amendment, it passed 4-3 with Teresa Kelly, Erin Thompson and Michael Poppa voting against it.

Kelly and Poppa voted against the budget package, which passed 5-2, after the change. Kelly had made the case earlier in the discussion that the CIP question was posed at a recent community forum and residents supported the 10-year plan. Developers, she said, look for cities that are willing to invest and maintain their infrastructure.