After enduring my neighborhood, Crimson Ridge, experiencing a “snake habitat” scandal and reading a Joco913.com article by Karen Dillon describing Shawnee’s government as ‘fractious’ and it “riding a storm of criticism,” I decided it was time for a change in leadership - thus my bid for a Shawnee Ward III city council seat.
What would I bring as an elected councilman? I am a problem solver. Everyday my job requires that I solve problems for my customers on a recurring basis with limited resources and too many requirements. I have project management skills (I have an active PMP certification), working across boundaries, leading teams, process improvement (I have a Six Sigma certification), business analysis skills, software development skills in multiple languages, consultancy, and 28 years of IT experience in manufacturing, healthcare, insurance and reinsurance. I have a BS in Computer Science from Missouri State University.
I work for Swiss Re as an Expert Information Engineer. My job consists of supporting claims and accounting / finance information delivery teams with technical specification designs and designing data mart architectures on a multi-phased delivery basis.
Below are the issues I see facing Shawnee:
Transparency with voters
- I was perplexed with back-and-forth council decisions to eliminate then restore detailed minutes of council meetings. Reducing costs was one of the points raised as to why such a vote took place. In my mind, complete transparency is not optional.
- Communications regarding public city business should be open and not consist of “backroom” deals. There is a reason Steve Howe, Johnson County District Attorney, called out Mayor Meyers and Councilman Vaught (my opponent) for violating the spirit of the Kansas Open Meetings Act over the appointment of Willoughby; they were making backroom deals.
- Why does the city receive 10.3 percent of its revenue from the utility franchise fee? If the city needs more revenue, voters should decide that via a sales tax ballot question, not via utility bills. I don’t care if other cities do it. This should be a voter’s choice.
- The All Funds Revenue Detail and the Combined Fund Expenditure by Character and Object reports should be published in the statistical section of the Annual Report so citizens can see the details of revenue sources and expenses.
Ongoing spending problem
- Three of the last four years, expenditures have been higher than revenue.
- An impact fee is not a revenue source. Why are half of the $3 million from the renegotiated landfill impact fees being diverted away from street maintenance to the Economic Development Fund while the city is planning on issuing GO debt of $3.29 million for the 2013 Street Maintenance Program?
- Why doesn’t the city have an internal auditor that answers to either the city council or an independent board? An internal auditor can improve efficiency and effectiveness of government operations, thereby reducing costs.
- The city’s governing body is embarking on an economic growth plan to increase the commercial tax base funded by taxpayers. While we would all like to see growth, it should not come at the expense of one stakeholder while reducing risk and increasing the bottom line for another. The reasoning behind economic growth is that eventually it will cause mill levy rates to stop growing for residential taxpayers. What proof do we have that this will occur? Shawnee’s mill levy has increased 16.3 percent since 2000 while aggregate property valuations have increased 44.6 percent during the same time period. I don’t favor just throwing money at the problem.
If you or someone you know lives in Shawnee, please look into my background and encourage others to investigate my education and experience, and consider voting for me. My website is www.herronforshawnee.com. If you want to know what is going on in the Shawnee city council meetings without attending, follow me on Twitter, @GordonHHerron, as I tweet all city council motions under #ShawneeKSCC. Also, please consider walking with me as I visit voter’s homes in my ward or consider giving to my campaign.