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The Kenig Konnection

January 2017

New Year, New Opportunities

<<First Name>>,

Happy New Year! I hope you and your family enjoyed the holidays with plenty of rest and relaxation. 2016 was a busy year, but 2017 promises to be just as busy if not more, with major redevelopment projects (Nieman NOW, Westbrooke Village), as well as continued work replacing aging stormwater pipes, selection of a site in northwest Shawnee for the new fire station, and the hiring of 5 additional police officers, among other things.

Last week, I was honored to be invited to join a guest panel of young elected leaders at the Kansas City Young Republicans' monthly meeting on the Plaza, offering insights on public service and how young people can serve their communities on a political level. Youth engagement in public service and community service is a passion of mine, and it's always energizing and exciting to hear stories of young people who are transforming their communities and having a real impact on policy. We have many opportunities to get involved in Shawnee, from serving as a volunteer at one of our many community events to serving on a city board or commission. 

As always, please reach out if I can be of service.

End-of-Year Council Actions

Summary of Major Council Actions in 2016

  • Senior Living Density Amendments to Land Use Guide - The Planning Commission had voted 8-0 to pass amendments to our Land Use Guide/Comprehensive Plan (the document that provides the blueprint or foundation for how our city should be developed and zoned) to allow for consideration of higher density (more than the current maximum of 15.56 units per acre) for senior living developments in areas already zoned for low to medium density, allowing for up to 21.78 units per acre . The other amendment applied to our zoning regulations reduced the lot area requirement from 2,800 sq ft to 2,000 sq ft for senior living developments. We had much debate on this. Some councilmembers such as Councilman Jenkins opposed the changes, arguing it would lead to high-rise developments in neighborhoods. Others - including me - argued that our city is already losing senior living developments (and residents who leave our city seeking those developments) to Lenexa and Overland Park due to our overly-restrictive density and zoning regulations. And I emphasized that this was a mild change - simply giving us the ability to consider higher density on a case-by-case basis. All of the projects would still go through the same rigorous process, whereby Planning Commission and Council would need to approve higher density and all related site and project material would still need to be supplied. I believe this type of change will signal to senior living developers that Shawnee is open for business - especially critical considering our aging population in eastern Shawnee seeking alternative housing options.
The vote vote supporting the zoning and comprehensive plan amendments passed 5-3  (Councilmembers Neighbor, Vaught, Meyer, Sandifer, and I voted FOR; Councilmembers Pflumm, Kemmling, and Jenkins voted AGAINST).
  • Revisions to Policy Statement 7 - Conduct of Public Meetings - Councilmember Jenkins proposed some citizen-friendly amendments to PS-7 to allow a group of 10 or more citizens to pool their speaking time together to conduct a presentation for or against an public policy issue for an extended period of time. Councilmembers proposed some changes - the group would be limited to 30 minutes for their combined presentation with up to two 15-minute extensions - and the group would be asked to provide the council with notes and/or their slide presentation to the council prior to the meeting to review.
Final passage of the revisions passed the Governing Body 8-0. I voted YES because often residents will speak (utilizing their allotted 5 minutes) on an issue and repeat what others say, resulting in support or opposition that is fractured or unclear, as well as repetitive and lengthy. This allows for efficient use of time and for more citizens to have their voices heard. Thank you to Councilmember Jenkins for introducing these reforms.
  • Extension of the Excise Tax Abatement - last year, we also voted to extend the the current suspension of the excise tax, which is imposed on owners who are platting property in the city. The abatement was first proposed by Councilmember Jeff Vaught and has been in place since 2013. Owners and developers are required to follow certain development milestones to be eligible, but many developers have taken advantage of this tax suspension to develop property within our city, and it has served as a valuable economic development tool. The council voted 8-0 to extend the excise tax abatement for one year, until March 19, 2018.

Priority-Based Budgeting 

Council workshop provides updates  

Budgeting can be a confusing, complex, and dizzying process when you are funding operations that total over $100 million for a city approaching 70,000 residents. To better align city priorities and goals with results, the Governing Body began implementing Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB) in 2013, completing the work in 2015. 

Essentially, this type of budgeting process enables us to be more productive by analyzing spending at the program level - rather than by department, since various programs and priorities (such as public safety and infrastructure programs) crossover into multiple departments. As we analyze expenditures at the program level, we can better align them with community priorities (modified and amended each year by the council), tying those priorities and related program spending directly to results. Each program undertaken by the city is scored on quartiles of 1-4 based on how well it aligns with our city's goals and priorities, allowing us to constantly access the value of the programs we're funding and determine whether funds can be better allocated elsewhere. PBB is an especially valuable tool to assist cities in weathering recessionary periods, when spending cuts must be made and funding prioritization is critical.

Chris Fabian, the Co-Founder of the Priority-Based Budgeting Center, conducted a council workshop for us last week, to update us on progress since we've implemented the program. Some interesting facts:

  • Shawnee is one of only 150 cities in the U.S. and Canada using this innovative approach to budgeting.
  • The Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri are considering adopting PBB.
  • Shawnee was the first community to put all of our PBB budgeting data online at the program level for consumption by our citizens.
Click here to learn more about how we use Priority-Based Budgeting and to view our community priorities.

State Legislative Agenda 

Council passes state legislative agenda 7-1

Every year, the Assistant City Manager leads city staff in the development of a state legislative agenda, identifying policies and issues at the state level for support that align with the goals and priorities established by us on the Governing Body. Those of us on the City Council vote to adopt the state legislative agenda, which is then utilized throughout the legislative session when city officials communicate with our locally-elected legislators.

This year's legislative agenda included policy statements on HOME RULE AUTHORITY, FINANCE AND TAXATION, OPEN GOVERNMENT, ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, HUMAN SERVICES, and PUBLIC EMPLOYEES. I suggested adding a statement on public safety - specifically on collaborating with state law enforcement partners like the KS Highway Patrol and KBI to mitigate acts of terrorism, active shooter situations, and violence against police officers.  The statement on PUBLIC SAFETY was added and Councilmember Jenkins proposed additional language on working with agencies at all levels on emergency response and management.

There was lively debate on certain elements of the agenda in committee, leading Council President Stephanie Meyer to propose roll call votes on individual policy sections. To see individual votes and debate, click here to read the minutes. The state legislative agenda ultimately passed the council 7-1 (Councilmember Kemmling was the only vote AGAINST) on final action. 

CLICK HERE to read our full state legislative agenda.

Westbrooke Village Sold

Vacant retail center sells after auction

Situated at 75th and Quivira, Westbrooke Village has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest vacancy rate of a retail of its size in Johnson County. Attempts to work with the ownership to bring in additional tenants and an anchor such as Menards proved to be unsuccessful as the owner just did not have an interest in seeing the center at full capacity.

The shopping center went on the auction block this past September, ending at a high bid of $4.875 million, although the it failed to meet the sales price requirements, so a separate sales agreement was negotiated post-auction with buyer Mission Peak Capital, which specializes in acquiring real estate for redevelopment and resale purposes.

We are optimistic that the new owners will be much more engaged and interested in working with the city on a viable redevelopment of this property, as it it is well-suited for mixed use (residential, office, & commercial).

Many of you have asked me about Westbrooke over the past two years and now we finally have an opportunity to redevelop this property. I will keep you posted as we have further updates about the new owners' intent, but in conversations with local media, they have indicated a willingness to work with with the city on strategy and development.

To read more on the auction and subsequent sale, check out this article from the Kansas City Business Journal.

B&B Theatres Reopens

Renovations popular with moviegoers

From left: RiskIQ VP Jason Zann, Congressman Kevin Yoder, RiskIQ associate, Shawnee City Councilman Brandon Kenig, and RiskIQ consultant Sonny Sinha.

Last Fall, you might remember that the Council voted 5-3 to provide $1.5 million in economic development funds to support the exterior and interior renovations of the B&B Shawnee 18 Movie Theatre (formerly Dickinson Westglen 18) as well as resurfacing of the parking lot and addition of 2-3 pad sites for additional restaurants.

The theatre reopened their doors in late November with 12 auditoriums completely renovated with leather recliner seats and the addition of their Grand Screen, which is one of the largest high-definition screens in the Midwest. Other additions include remodels to the concession area, lobby, and introduction of a bar. Six more auditoriums will be renovated in the coming months with leather recliner seating and B&B has announced a partnership with Music Theatre Kansas City for the creation of B&B Live, a live theatre space in the Shawnee 18 theatre which will serve as the music theatre's home, providing films and live theatre in one space in one of the largest, live theatre venues in Kansas.

According to B&B's executive leadership, revenue from ticket sales since the re-opening has been brisked for the remodeled auditoriums, exceeding expectations and projections. I've been to four movies at B&B since the reopening and I'm encouraged by the attendance. My one recommendation: if you want to see new release - particularly in one of the remodeled auditoriums - reserve your ticket online to ensure you get the seats you want, and join their loyalty program while you're there - $2 drinks and popcorn on Tuesdays.

As a longtime film buff and former movie theatre corporate team member, I give an enthusiastic thumbs up to the renovations and the additional business to come to the Westglen Shopping Center.


Monticello Library Update

Construction set to begin this year

Many residents who live west of I-435 have been asking for a library branch for years, and a location in west Shawnee has been discussed for more than a decade.

Last year, the Board of County Commissioners approved funding for the new library branch at K-7 and Shawnee Mission Parkway, which will be the largest library in size after the Central Resource Library in Overland Park. The new library is two stories - a necessity due to the limitations of the terrain and need to provide parking.

The Monticello Library's uniquely modern design will be complemented by an interactive children's space, a digital maker space, 10 meeting rooms, and a rooftop patio and terrace.

Construction is set to begin this spring with an opening date in 2018.

☆ Resident Spotlight 

From time to time, I like to profile local residents in Ward IV who are giving back to their communities or accomplishing their dreams while having an impact on our community.

Mike Frizzell graduated from Shawnee Mission Northwest with me (Class of '08), and is a life-long Shawnee resident. A photojournalist and radio operator, Mike works as a freelance news reporter, having started his own real-time news reporting service, Operation 100 News, in 2006. As local newspapers face severe budget cuts and devote less and less time to local news, there's a real appetite for information on the local level - crime reporting, local events, accidents and road hazards, etc. Mike fills this voice by reporting on the local stories that would often be overlooked or go unreported, assisting in getting information out to the masses.

You may have also noticed Mike's work in The Shawnee Dispatch - he contributes photos and articles regularly to our local community paper and can be seen at council meetings.

You can follow @Operation100News on Twitter for real-time, breaking local news updates in Shawnee and throughout Johnson County.

  About Brandon

Ward 4 Map

Click here to view a city map with boundaries for Ward 4.
Submit Citizen Service Request

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Upcoming Events

City Council Meeting -
7:00 pm,
City Hall
Residential Safety Seminar, Civic Centre,
7:00 pm
Free CPR Training,
9 am - 4 pm, Fire Station #71 - 6501 Quivira
State of the City
11:30 am
Shawnee Town Hall, 11600 Johnson Dr.
New Businesses
Congratulations to the following businesses that have have recently opened in Shawnee. Welcome!


Brandon Kenig
Councilmember - Ward IV
City of Shawnee

Copyright © 2017 Brandon Kenig for Shawnee City Council, All rights reserved.

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