Lee's Summit Journal

Budget approved for 2020 and citizen survey results revealed at council meeting

Water services were reported as a priority for improvement in a residents’ survey. However, the survey showed that people are satisfied overall with their level of service.
Water services were reported as a priority for improvement in a residents’ survey. However, the survey showed that people are satisfied overall with their level of service. kschwers@kcstar.com

The Lee’s Summit City Council unanimously approved the city’s budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 at its June 11 meeting. The council also reviewed surveys conducted by the ETC Institute, which measured residents’ satisfaction with municipal services.

Ryan Murray, project manager for ETC Institute, presented results from the 2019 citizens and water utility customer surveys. The market research firm specializes in gathering data from residents to enhance community planning for their government.

The survey was the fourth conducted for the city and included many of the same questions in previous surveys, Murray said. The surveys use similar questions to gauge the city’s progress on dealing with the issues, said Amy Hugunin with the Lee’s Summit Development Center. Residents completed more than 890 surveys, which surpassed ETC’s goal of 700.

“This is a snapshot in time,” Murray said. “Things that precede these results, particularly weather events is what I am hinting at, can have a drastic effect on our results.”

ETC data showed 90% of those surveyed were satisfied with the quality of life in Lee’s Summit and that satisfaction remained the same or improved in 50 of the 91 areas that were assessed. It also concluded that the city should prioritize improving street maintenance, traffic flow and police services.

The quality of police services was ranked as the most important issue, yet 86% of those surveyed reported being satisfied with the police, according to the data.

The water utilities survey reflected a similar pattern with drinking water safety. Water safety was reported as a priority for improvement as well as an area with the highest level of satisfaction. Roughly 85% of those surveyed reported overall satisfaction with the water utilities, which is well above the national average and not easily duplicated, Murray reported.

“I think it is a way of measuring ourselves for priority-based budgeting,” said Nick Edwards, assistant city manager.

“A key part of that is understanding how our programs and services align to counsel priorities . . . this can be another tool that the council can use to evaluate effectiveness and performance.”

Enforcement of private property building maintenance ordinances was ranked at 50% satisfaction, making it the lowest satisfaction percentage reported to the council in Murray’s presentation. This topic was also the only area where the city had fallen below the national average level of satisfaction, according to ETC data.

The city budget

The ordinance to approve the city budget was first read at the June 4 meeting and passed by a unanimous vote. Its second reading was part of the consent agenda, which included ordinances for the preliminary development plans for Paragon Star Village and vacating a utility easement on Aberdeen Drive.

Ordinances for the Municipal Court budget and funding for a lightning detection system were separated from the budget and read for the second time as individual ordinances.

“The court was separated out because this particular budget presents a potential conflict for a member of the council,” said City Attorney Brian Head. “We broke it out so that the member could vote on the remainder of the budget while abstaining from this portion.”

The bill was adopted with seven votes in favor. Mayor Pro Tem Beto Lopez, district 3, abstained as he has a relative who is contracted with the court as a public defender.

The ordinance for funding a lightning detection system was approved with six votes. Mayor Bill Baird and Council member Rob Binney, district 1, voted against it.

Baird and Binney voiced no opposition to having a lightning detection system that would improve the safety for youth programs. However, both said they were reluctant to vote in favor of the ordinance that was introduced as a separate issue from the budget. The mayor added that he was displeased that “no one stepped up to the plate” to handle this issue.

Binney was also the sole vote against an ordinance to approve awarding a more than $2.8 million bid for curb repair to Freeman Concrete Construction LLC. He stated the city should look at streets that do not have curbs before repairing the existing infrastructure.

Baird also read a proclamation honoring June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

“This is the first step in letting our residents know that we take abuse seriously and that the city of Lee’s Summit is here to help those in need,” said Victoria Nelson, development services planner for the Members of the Community for all Ages Committee.