We have so much to be proud of in Lee’s Summit! We have a safe, prosperous, diverse community where neighbors are still neighbors, and Downtown is the Heart of our City.
From a high quality of life to one of the best educational ecosystems in the country. We have become a hub for healthcare activity not only in Eastern Jackson County, but for all of the metropolitan area. Small high-tech manufacturing companies are growing and looking to expand. Regional distribution companies are looking for more space, and we have prepared almost all areas of our city to be ready for expansion opportunities. Last year’s renewal of the CIP Sales Tax ensures that funding for key capital improvements should occur for the next 15 years in Lee’s Summit. From sidewalks to storm water, from parking structures, to new pavement, from older neighborhoods to widening roads for new subdivisions, we tried to look forward in the projects we proposed.
Earlier this year we took another step in the process of improving pay for City employees and as a Council budgeted $2 million dollars in raises and increasing minimum pay. Looking at projected revenues & expenses this is what we could afford to have a balanced budget and sustain. Going forward the City is going to hire compensation and benefits specialist, who will help guide the Council in making decisions about where to increase salaries, and compare that information with the local market. I believe we will still have opportunities going forward to help fix the salary ‘compression’ issues. Recently we have heard a lot of discussion that new employees are not as interested in our benefits as more experienced employees, and perhaps we need to look at a way to be able to afford more in pay and less in benefits for new employees.
In recent years I have seen this community come together to support issues from cultural arts, to new fire stations. From fire equipment to an amphitheater; from an improved jail facility, firearms range, and training facility to a brand new highway interchange, and even a digital radio system so that all public safety groups may communicate better. We have seen support for investments in Downtown, as well as our older neighborhoods, where we have been able to improve safety and accessibility for people of all ages. The investment in our Downtown continues to show as we see existing and new retail, restaurant, event, experience and other small businesses thriving. The partnership between the City and the Downtown CID will hopefully lead to a permanent home for the Farmer’s Market, as well as being able to deliver an outdoor performance space. Another opportunity in front of us is the completion of the Rock Island Trail, for use for hiking and biking. We must continue to push for the connection all the way to Pleasant Hill so that we can connect with the Katy Trail.
I think the next Mayor has the opportunity to help lead Lee’s Summit even further. Some things that I believe we can do: improve communications from City Hall so people feel informed, continue with the process of a citizen’s strategic planning group, remain fiscally prudent and keep the City on solid financial ground, and continue to look for ways to make ours a community for all ages. I believe we should adopt a policy regarding years in which the City has excess revenues. How and what to do with that money may be an early topic for the next Council.