Archive for Election 2017

Lower property taxes top list of priorities for Kane in 5th District, UG Commission

Mike Kane (File photo)

Fifth District Unified Government Commissioner Mike Kane is running for re-election.

Kane said lowering property taxes is his top priority. He said the UG has the money now to lower taxes, and in the past promised the funds from the payoff of the sales tax revenue bonds would be used on lower property taxes.

He has served three terms as the 5th District commissioner.

“We started this journey 12 years ago and we saw the need for growth out west,” Kane said. The 5th District has experienced much economic growth during his years in office.

Among his achievements in office, he said, are a new community center that opened in Piper, at the request of a Girl Scout troop; a cleanup of an old greenhouse and nursery property located on 82nd Street; and a new fire station in the 5th District that is expected to break ground at the end of summer.

With the fire station project already approved, the next goals on his list are to get a new grocery store in the 5th District and more curbs and sidewalks, he said. Already, there have been five grocery stores built in Wyandotte County during his years on the commission, he said.

Kane said he also would like to look into turning a former go-kart park at Wolcott and Hutton roads into a park with a soccer field and gazebo. Currently, there isn’t a park west of I-435 in his district.

“I want to continue to do a good job, and enjoy serving my community,” he said.

Kane, 60, is the public affairs director for Laborers 1290. He is the president of Tri-County Labor, serves on the executive board of the AFL-CIO state board, and also is on the Kansas Human Rights Commission, appointed in 2013.

He coached soccer for four years at Piper High School. Kane is a lifelong Kansas City, Kansas, resident, and he and his wife have two children.

“Wyandotte County is a good place to work, to visit, and it is equally important to make it a good place to live,” Kane said. “I think it is, and I think that is why my kids stayed here.”

Kane has opposition in the 2017 election from Sarah Kremer. The primary election is Aug. 1, and the general election is in November this year.


Bonner Springs voters to decide $39 million bond issue to address growth

by Mary Rupert

Voters in the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Public Schools district will decide on a $39.35 million bond issue in a mail ballot this spring.

Superintendent Dan Brungardt said the funds will be used for expanding and building onto existing school buildings, safety and security improvements, and getting students ready for college and careers. Architects looked at the needs of the buildings, and a planning committee developed a bond proposal that was approved by the school board in January. Brungardt added it will not increase property taxes.

If approved by the voters, this bond issue would fund remodeling on all the current school facilities, with the exception of Delaware Ridge Elementary, for increased capacity, he said.

“We’re a growing district in the metro area,” he said. Remodeling should add enough space in buildings for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on enrollment, he added.

During the past 20 years, there has been an average increase of 25 students most years, Brungardt said.

New housing is being built in the Bonner Springs district and is pushing growth, he added. A new single-family housing development, and new townhomes are being built.

In the Delaware Ridge Elementary attendance area, there are many townhomes, plus some single-family construction, he said. Delaware Ridge was the last bond issue the district proposed, around 10 years ago, and it passed.

Edwardsville has a new Village South development that may also attract more growth.

Currently, the Bonner Springs High School has a secure entryway, where students walk through the office he said. The district’s buildings would rearrange front entrances for security purposes under this bond issue. There also are plans to address parking and parent access to relieve access problems, he said.

The bond issue also would fund an upgrade aimed at helping students prepare for college and vocational programs, he said. Manufacturing, home repair, maintenance, business entrepreneurship, video tech production and health pathways are among the programs that would be offered.

The tech area was built in 1964, he said, and current plans call for an attached building to the high school for vocational students.

In addition, two new science classrooms are planned for the high school, and more classrooms are planned at the middle school to deal with increasing enrollment, he said.

“When I graduated it was K-12, now we’re looking at K-13, K-14, K-15,” he said. Students are graduating who already have some college credits earned while they were in high school, sometimes as much as 21 credit hours, he added.

“All schools are becoming more responsible, making sure students not only have the ability to go on, they have the access,” he said. “We have a pathway for nursing, a pathway for construction, business entrepreneurship, also a pathway for police officers.”

The district has a former police officer who is teaching and helps students map out a career in law enforcement, he said. The students on these career pathways get information, learn about the field and make a more informed decision before going into the field to work, he added.

Some high school students are graduating from high school with a certified nursing assistant certificate, and are working in that field to help pay for college, he added.

Brungardt said an important point in this bond issue is it will not make property taxes increase.

“This bond issue is a 0 percent tax increase on the mill levy,” he said. It takes the place of a former bond issue that has been paid off. Property taxes have been stable and flat in the Bonner Springs district over the past several years, he added.

Brungardt added that the bond issue is totally separate from school finance issues that are currently in the news. Bonds can be used only for school facilities, with the state paying 14 cents and the district providing 86 cents on the dollar. The school finance funds are for instruction and can’t be used for facilities.

For the past few years, the Bonner Springs district has received a block grant, the same amount of money it received two years ago. “But our enrollment has increased,” Brungardt said. When enrollment increases, there is a need for more teachers, and in effect, there is less money available, he added.

Legislators will work out the school finance details, and Brungardt said he hopes the district receives additional money for students in order to hire more teachers and keep classrooms at a good size. However, the school finance funds don’t affect the bond issue, and the funds from the bond issue can’t be used for instructional purposes, he added.

The ballot will be mailed to voters on April 12 and should be mailed back to the election office by April 26 in order to reach the election commission office by noon May 2, Brungardt said.

Brungardt has made several community appearances already and is scheduled to make a presentation to the UG Commission on the Bonner Springs school bond issue on April 6. Members of a “vote yes” committee have been going door-to-door to distribute information on the bond issue, he said.


Mayoral candidate Jordan speaks out about taxes

Keith Jordan

by Mary Rupert

Lower property taxes for residents was one of the issues mentioned by mayoral challenger Keith Jordan.

Jordan, 42, who has filed for Kansas City, Kansas-Wyandotte County mayor and CEO, is new to the political arena, not having sought political office previously. He faces incumbent Mayor Mark Holland and challenger David Alvey.

Jordan is well-known to the radio audience of KQRC-FM, 98.9, The Rock, where he is on the morning Johnny Dare show under the name, “T-Bone.” Jordan says he has mentioned his candidacy on the radio show, and he added that other candidates have the opportunity to come onto the radio and talk about their campaigns.

Jordan, who lives in the Turner School District, said he is interested in working for a better quality of life for residents. He thinks businesses such as those in Village West should be paying more to the local government for the services they receive, and he added that some of the businesses have not fulfilled their agreements with the UG.

“It seems like we’re concentrating all our money in the Village West area,” Jordan said. “You could go anywhere in downtown KCK and find improvements that need to be made. We’re giving a lot of these companies breaks on things.”

He mentioned sinkholes in the Turner area, where a street is closed off, as improvements that need to be made, and he said there are probably many places in the city where road improvements are needed. He said he also supports efforts to revitalize deteriorating areas of Kansas City, Kansas.

Although the STAR (sales tax revenue) bonds at Village West were paid off early, Jordan said he really hasn’t noticed any of the tax breaks residents were promised years ago.

“Why are we so in debt if we have our STAR bonds being paid off and paid off early?” Jordan asked.

“I’ve seen years of KCK going downhill a little, coming back up in some spots, and going back downhill again,” he said. “The people in charge are ignoring some of the areas that need to be worked on. As a citizen, I feel they look at KCK as The Legends and Village West, and that’s where it ends. We see improvements there, and at KU Med Center, but in between there is nothing – a huge area of the city that is not being taken care of, their voice is not being heard.”

Jordan said he would like to see if there is a way to get some of the big businesses such as those at Village West to pay more to the UG. He would like to re-examine the UG contracts and agreements with these businesses. The mayor should be representing the people who live in the city, he said.

He added he does not support cuts in basic services in order to reduce property taxes.

Although there may be some administrative items that might be cut, he said he supports funding for services such as fire and police. There has been talk of consolidating fire stations here, and the national response time is about four minutes.

“KCK has a two-minute response time. Why would we want to lay off some of our firefighters and consolidate the boundaries if we already have a two-minute response time?” Jordan asked. He is a certified EMT who served as a volunteer firefighter in Edwardsville for about nine years.

“If we start cutting down our responders, we’re just hurting ourselves,” Jordan said. “One thing I learned, in emergency situations, time is of the essence. If the national average is four minutes and we’re at two, why drop it to four and put citizens at danger? To me that makes no sense.”

Jordan doubted that a new juvenile detention center would be a good use of the taxpayers’ money. Instead of a new building, he said he would rather see programs to work with youth and turn them around, instead of locking them up in a detention center.

“With a detention center, we give up too easily on kids,” he said. “Most of them that go into the detention center at an early age, it kills them, they think this is what it will be for the rest of their life, and they end up repeating the pattern,” he said.

Jordan said one difference between him and the other candidates would be that he is running his campaign on a very small budget. He plans to meet with people face-to-face and talk to voters. He also plans to use social media such as Facebook to get his message out.

Jordan is a graduate of Turner High School and has an associate degree in liberal arts from Kansas City Kansas Community College. He has spent almost his entire life as a resident of the Turner district.

He has been very involved with youth sports, where he coached soccer in the Midwest Regional League. He also has helped with sports at the Turner Recreation Center.

He has volunteered with Harvesters and the Kids Café program, helping to feed kids in the summer. Jordan also is active in the Masons and Abdallah Shriners.

Jordan filed for office under “D. Keith Jordan,” and said he usually doesn’t use his first name, Dennis.

The primary election is in August this year, and the general election will be in November. The filing deadline is noon June 1.