Government transparency is a vital part of the League’s mission. The Observer Corps is one way that Leagues promote open government on a local level.
Wichita City Council Meetings
Regular City Council meetings are broadcast live on Channel 7 at 9:00 AM on Tuesdays, or you can watch live or archived video via the internet. Links, agendas, and past minutes are at wichita.gov/council.
City Council Meeting, February 16, 2021
Key items from the Wichita City Council meeting, arranged by LWV position topic.
Transparency: Four council members present in-person, two virtual. Well run meeting with good video/audio.
Citizen Participation: Positive citizen involvement, River Trail Village, a new residential development in Riverside: Proposal for Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) subsidy for a new residential development that includes a change to city-owned land and existing river path.
The developer along with the city held multiple meetings with the local neighborhood association members. Those interchanges resulted in a revised plan from tower to individual, detached residences. City council heard from four local residents and a representative of the developer. Three of the four residents were in favor of the new development. The one opposed cited reasons based on construction method, potential for the development to become a rental community, increase in traffic and concerns with TIF appropriations.
City manager addressed changes to the TIF policy from 2009 that should address the concern from the citizen. Motion passed: 6 to 0
Natural Resources: City council approved two bids that should have positive effects on Wichita’s water supply and environmental impact.
- Biological Nutrient Removal Program: Standards in place for level of nitrogen and phosphorous in water discharged into the river. This is aimed at preventing algae growth.
- Waste Water Treatment Plant 2 Final Clarifier Replacement – Revised Budget: Approved revision to budget for a portion of the water treatment system.
City Council Meeting, March 2, 2021
Key items from the meeting, arranged by LWV position topic.
Filling Empty District 3 seat: Following procedures, the council heard from five candidates and voted. No clear winner was evident, so the vote will occur again at the next scheduled meeting (March 18).
Citizen Participation: Positive citizen involvement, Design Concept for McLean Boulevard from Central to 13th – This effort to identify traffic calming measures (reduce speeds) and provide better access to the bike from the west side of McLean paths was initiated by citizen input and coordinated with the Bike and Pedestrian and the District Advisory Boards.
Natural Resources: The city council approved their 2021 Federal Legislative Agenda which included items addressing quality of life services, e.g. water and environment.
Video of meetings can be viewed on City of Wichita’s YouTube channel.
Reports submitted by Margaret Kline
Sedgwick County Commission Meetings
Regular commission meetings are live on KPTS Channel 8 at 9 a.m. each Wednesday, except for the last Wednesday of the month, and can also be viewed on YouTube and Facebook. Links, past videos, and agendas are at Sedgwick County.org.
Reports in the VOTER will focus on items that relate to LWV positions and priorities.
County Commission Meeting, February 17, 2021
Presentations on COVID-19 Community Survey results and Coronavirus CARES Act and spending. Presentation of the County Appraiser’s property value report.
Legislative updates the County is following that relate to LWV positions:
- 2019 SB130: Commissioner Howell spoke in Topeka in support of implementing this 2019 bill on elections.
- HB 2334 on voting machines: Prohibiting the networking of electronic voting machines and providing for recounts of the results tabulated by such machines.
- HB 2160 on mental health: Establishing certification and funding for certified community behavioral health clinics.
County Commission Meeting, March 1, 2021
Presentation on City of Wichita/Sedgwick County Food System Master Plan by Becky Tuttle, City Council and Health & Wellness Coalition. The final plan has not been posted yet.
County Commission Meeting, March 3, 2021
A COVID-19 Vaccine Update was presented, followed by extended discussion about vaccination criteria and mask mandates.
Item related to LWV positions: Commissioner Cruse spoke about the Mental Health & Substance Abuse Coalition (MHSA) task force meeting, that was attended by all County Commissioners. For info and strategic plans, go to mhsacoalition.org.
- The COVID-19 Survey results may be helpful in our outreach.
- The Kansas Legislature website page on the Elections Committee has detailed info on current election-related bills in the Kansas House.
- The Food System Master Plan may affect local health and hunger issues.
County Commission Meeting, March 10, 2021
Maggie Thompson of Black Nurses Association reported on the COVID-19 vaccination clinics being held in community churches.
Items related to LWV Positions – all were approved:
- Transportation: Establish a public hearing regarding special assessments for certain road improvements in the county. Projects were requested by property owners, approved, and completed.
- Resolution declaring it necessary to build or repair existing bridges. Cost: $5 million to be funded by GO bonds and sales tax, will be mostly rebuilding.
- Mental Health: Consideration of $4 million grant for community behavioral health clinic. COMCARE reported on this surprise grant to increase access to mental health services. Funds will be used for staffing and service enhancements.
- Social Services: Amendment to KDADS project for assistance in transition from homelessness (PATH) grant to provide $135K for additional year. On Consent Agenda.
Video of meetings can be viewed on Sedgwick County’s YouTube channel.
Reports submitted by Pat Reinhold
Join the Observer Corps!
League members who are interested in attending governmental meetings are welcome and encouraged to join the Observer Corps. Reach out to us at email@example.com or 316-573-5583 and we’ll connect you with Pat Reinhold, our program coordinator, who will provide guidance and training when needed and a helping hand to anyone interested in learning about local government on this level. Read Observing Your Government in Action Guide: Protecting Your Right to Know for more information about how an Observer Corps works.
The list of public meetings is long and there is something of interest for everyone who wants to learn. Being a member of the Observer Corps can be fun and rewarding. Watching our government in action can make one a well-informed voter. Sharing the information gleaned at a public meeting can also help others become well-informed voters.