Some say that local government is the toughest branch, because it’s closest to the people.
For Mission, Kansas Mayor Steve Schowengerdt, it's easy.
“If you're honest and talk straight the people tell you what they want and what they don't like and you adjust,” he says.
Schowengerdt stopped by KCUR studios to talk with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the meatiest issues on Mission's table.
Here are five questions Kraske asked the Mayor:
How big a controversy has the debate been over the driveway tax?
[The driveway tax] split Mission. It was a lot of controversy. The residents aren't too concerned about themselves, they were concerned about the businesses and the loss of businesses because of it.
Personally, I didn't believe in disguising a fee as a tax. For 2016, the council has elected not to assess the driveway tax. If we want to keep the streets up, then we’re gonna have to raise property tax and we’re going to have so put some sales tax on. That would definitely have to be up to the people on the sales tax ... if the people would vote on a sales tax and pass it, that would give us plenty of money to take care of the streets.
What’s going on with the Mission Gateway development project?
We are no closer. The contractor is working on a new plan, it hasn’t come to us yet, so we don't know. We do have a development agreement with the developer, Cameron Group, so we’re waiting like everybody else, and that development agreement is up in December. We do not own the land, the group does. He [the New York-based developer] is working on a new proposal. I believe a Walmart is in the proposal ... also in December starts a $600,000 assessment to the developer [on his property-tax bill] for our improvements.
The people are really frustrated, they want to see something viable. We don’t want to settle on anything. We want something viable, and sooner than later.
How are business that suffered during the reconstruction on Johnson Drive recovering now that the project is complete?
They were hurt. They're coming back and they're getting business, this farmers market is bringing business, the street itself is bringing business. I think it’s going to be a lot better than it was. It was quite an undertaking and we definitely want to do all we can for the downtown businesses to make up for that down time, but I think it will be even better now.
You’re looking at a new ordinance that would make bees and chickens legal in the city. Why is this an issue in Mission?
[The chicken ordinance] came up about 8-10 years ago and city council voted it down.
A young boy brought it to the council. His mother brought him to the council and he proposed it and the council took it up and we will vote on it next month. I believe the council will probably pass it. The ordinance would say that no chickens could run loose, they have to be in the coop and the coop would have to be presentable — for your neighbor’s sake.
You have an impressive family. How do you keep them all straight?
I have 10 children, five boys, five girls and at the moment we have 30 grandkids, and two on the way. It would take too long to say all their names, but I know them all. Don’t ask me about birthdays though.