Northeast Joco

Prairie Village seeks delay on guns, considers budget for 2014

The Prairie Village City Council agreed Monday to ask for a six-month exemption from a new state law that bans local government from barring concealed weapons in public buildings unless they have metal detectors and a guard on duty at the entrance.

“We do not have any item in our budget or capital improvement plans for a security plan,” said City Administrator Quinn Bennion. “We would have to consolidate our entrances to one point and add security functions. Our budget doesn’t anticipate any of those costs.”

Gov. Sam Brownback in April signed into law House Bill 2052, which also grants public school and college employees the right to carry concealed weapons. It goes into effect on July 1. A provision in the bill allows cities to delay implementation until January 1, if they send the attorney general and local police department a signed letter asking for an exemption. The council voted unanimously to have Mayor Ron Shaffer sign and mail a letter.

Security was on the mind of Councilwoman Brooke Morehead, who urged her fellow councilmembers to consider a sign-in sheet at City Hall.

“In KCMO, you go through security and they take your keys. They don’t frisk you yet, but that’s probably coming,” said Councilwoman Morehead. “I think it shows a proactive approach so that we know who is coming in and out of these doors. It’s just preliminary, but I think it shows good judgment in today’s climate.”

The city staff expressed concerns over how a potential registry would work. Bennion said 960 people had visited the municipal offices in the past week.

“It would be a change for us in our culture and environment,” said Bennion.

Assistant City Administrator Dennis Enslinger added that the city sometimes has to deal with sensitive issues.

“There’s a number of people who come to the front counter dealing with code enforcement or zoning issues who don’t want to be identified. Where would we draw the line?” asked Enslinger.

The possibility of a sign-in log was added to the list of ongoing discussion items for a potential security plan.

Also Monday, the council discussed the $34.1 million proposed budget for 2014.

The mill levy rate and stormwater utility fee will remain unchanged. The general fund budget is expected to increase by less than 1 percent, which Bennion explained is partially because of an accounting adjustment.

The 2014 budget includes $250,000 for park improvements and $50,000 to address emerald ash borer infestation. The proposed budget also suggests moving $687,000 — $600,000 from the general fund and $87,600 from the stormwater utility fund — into the equipment reserve account, which is dedicated to large, one-time purchases. The city would spend $445,100 on vehicles and equipment in 2014, including $170,000 on a dump truck. The other large expenditure is $60,000 for a storage area network as part of scheduled technology improvements.

“We’re planning ahead, so we don’t have spikes in the budget. We’re getting better, but I’m not saying we’re there yet,” said Bennion.

The police department budget includes a reduction of $16,217 for off-duty contractual work and a $10,000 increase toward the replacement of two motorcycles. Public works will require an additional $5,000 for the biannual bridge inspection, wherein the Kansas Department of Transportation mandates that bridges over 20 feet in length are surveyed.

Public Works Project Manager Keith Bredehoeft is also seeking a $4,000 increase in turf management funds as well as $12,500 for a new riding mower.

“With the parks we’re trying to be a little higher level of maintenance than in years past. I think we can a little better than we’ve been doing,” said Bredehoeft.

Within the public works budget, the city set aside $60,000 for sandblasting and painting the adult and lap pool, as well as $32,000 for concrete repairs on its fuel island.

The council will next consider the budget for capital improvement projects on June 17. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Aug. 5.