Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Council gives lobbyist new contract

July 17, 2008

Despite a tight budget, the Eudora City Council chose to extend the contract of lobbyist Kevin Barone until Dec. 31 of this year.

The city hired Barone, who works for Topeka-based legislative consultants Joseph & Hollander as a contract lobbyist, in December 2007.

The main reason that the city retained his services was to lobby on its behalf in the 2008 state legislative session in order to affect public policy in context with its dispute with Douglas County Rural Water District No. 4.

However, Barone told council members that he would be keeping all of Eudora's interests, such as annexation issues, in mind during the session.

Barone said though no immediate change has occurred, the Legislature is working on a bill that would study for two years the practices of public wholesale water supply districts. If passed, the bill would put a two-year moratorium on any actions by those water districts.

However, this moratorium would have no bearing on the suit with RWD No. 4.

Eudora will pay Barone $750 per month - down from $1,000 per month on his previous contract - for lobby services and no more than $250 per month for his expenses- down from $350 on his previous contract. These expenses could include lobby registration fees, outside copying expenses over $50, travel expenses and any other items approved in advance by the city. Expenses can exceed $250, but only if the city gives approval.

Council members Jeff Peterson and Lori Fritzel said it was important to have a presence for Eudora at the Legislature to keep its best interests in mind.

Beatty said she and the council are pleased with Barone's work, which got started late during the last legislative session.

"We got done what we expected to happen during the last session, which is to get the issue brought to the forefront rather than nobody understanding it at all," Beatty said. "He's achieved what we had initially asked him to do, just short of getting full-fledged legislation adopted."

In other actions, the council:

¢ Set a date for July 31 to meet with Beatty and department heads to discuss the 2009 budget. The current proposal contains a 2.5 mill levy increase.

¢ Received an award from the director of Douglas County Emergency Management for its proactive approach in setting up a disaster mitigation plan. Beatty recognized Pam Schmeck for her hard work and dedication throughout the process.

¢ Endorsed the statewide Comprehensive Transportation Program.

¢ Tabled approval of the police officer overtime policy, which dictates that all overtime be approved by the chief of police. Beatty said the policy is too arbitrary and could leave the city open to future litigation.

¢ Heard a presentation on economic development from Buxton Company. Buxton matches retailers to communities and proposed a $70,000 study.

Council members were interested in the company because the lack of a business tax base is one of the main problems for the city. The council will discuss the proposal further during budget meetings.

¢ Renewed an agreement for housing inmates in the Douglas County Jail, the cost of which is $55.11 per day, per inmate in 2008.

¢ Approved the installment of a stop sign for northbound traffic on Elm Street at the intersection of Elm and Sixth streets. The cost will be around $250.

¢ Approved the purchase of a new John Deere Field Master out of a fund that was earmarked for playground equipment.

Parks and Recreation Director Tammy Hodges said the lawn mower would be a more efficient use of money than a swing set, and council members agreed with her.

¢ Approved the purchase of backup transformers because of the construction of the new elementary school and a Subway sandwich shop. The transformer for the school will cost $35,460 and the Subway transformer will cost $4,795.

¢ Approved the re-appointment of Cheryl Beatty to the Douglas County Emergency Management Board.

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