Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2005

Candidates favor benefit districts, commercial growth

March 24, 2005

City elections are less than two weeks away, and signs have sprouted up around Eudora imploring residents to vote for candidates and causes.

Three Eudora residents are running for two open City Council positions, and Tom Pyle is running unopposed for mayor.

Lori Fritzel, Tim Reazin and Bill Whitten are each seeking a spot on the Council. Joseph Hurla, who was a contender for one of the council positions, has withdrawn his name from the running for work-related reasons.

The candidates tend to agree on the need for a city administrator and the desire for additional commercial growth. But the outlook on how to handle residential growth, while not necessarily divisive, seems to be more diverse.

Each candidate was asked if they thought the creation of benefit districts would be good for Eudora. Forming a benefit district in a new residential development would require owners of new homes in the developments to pay for the utility improvements necessary for the development.

Whitten said he didn't disagree with the creation of benefit districts, but he said he would like to see a reasonable balance.

"I think there's a fine line there we have to walk," Whitten said. "We need to keep the cost to the developers and the homeowners within reason to keep the development coming to town."

Whitten said the way he would vote on benefit district-related matters would depend on the input he received from Eudora residents.

Because Fritzel's husband, Brett, is a real estate developer, she said she would abstain from voting on benefit district-related issues.

Reazin said he would be in favor of creating benefit districts so existing residents would not have to pay higher taxes for the improvements needed to expand residential areas.

"I do agree that the builder should be the one responsible, and if that carries on to the future homeowner then that's fine," he said.

Pyle, who currently serves on the City Council, said he would be in favor of creating benefit districts as long as new homeowners in the affected areas were clearly notified in their sales contracts that they would have to pay the extra costs.

On the issue of finding a new city administrator to replace Mike Yanez, Pyle said he was completely in favor of having an administrator, but would like to see some things change.

"After you have one for a while you get a little bit spoiled," Pyle said. "It does take part of the load off elected officials and some of the other people that may not have the expertise."

However, Pyle said he believed a city administrator should have less authority than he perceived Yanez as having in the latter part of his employment with the city.

Whitten said not having a full-time city administrator would be like trying to run a company without a CEO.

"I think it is very important to have a city administrator with the way the town is growing," Whitten said. "We either need a city administrator or a full-time mayor."

Fritzel said she supported having a city administrator because an administrator serves as a liaison between city government and its constituents.

"I think that the city administrator is a key element in keeping the community up to date with what is going on with city issues," she said. "Also, I think the city administrator is very important in bringing issues from the city workers to the City Council."

Reazin said having a city administrator was a progressive form of government that he was in support of.

Pyle said he would like to see more commercial growth in Eudora, to help bring in more tax dollars.

"I plan on seeking to bring something in here that will add employment and taxes, and I hope that I get a council that will go along with it," he said.

Whitten said he would like to see more retail and light industrial businesses in Eudora, and said the city government could play a role in recruitment of those kinds of businesses.

"I'd like to see some light industry come into town. It brings people to town and hopefully lessens the tax burden on the citizens," he said. "And retail will follow. If I was the elected official, I would go out and probe the area and see what people want and try to recruit some businesses."

Fritzel and Reazin also agreed that an increase of commercial industry would be beneficial to Eudora.

"I think it's always going to be beneficial for a city, as far as taxes and everything go," Reazin said.

Candidates participated in a forum Wednesday night to further educate the public on who they are and why they should be chosen. Coverage of the forum will be included in next week's Eudora News.

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