Parkville ready to move on possible sports park at 45/435 intersection

The City of Parkville is preparing to take its next steps into searching for a use for property at the intersection of Interstate 435 and Highway 45.  The Parkville Finance Committee discussed this and other upcoming projects and concerns during its regular meeting held Monday. During the economic downturn, development in two neighborhood improvement districts in the area stalled. Last year, the Parkville Economic Development Council appointed a task force to explore options for development. According to City Administrator Lauren Palmer, the task force has suggested construction of a youth sports park in the southeast corner of the intersection. “The EDC and City partnered to develop a preliminary site layout for the sports park concept that demonstrates adequate land is available to accommodate up to 12 FIFA regulation soccer fields with adjacent parking, support functions and compatible indoor sports hotel and/or retail space,” she said in her report. A request for proposals for a feasibility study to gauge market demand for a potential project was commissioned with four responses. A committee made up of City staff and elected officials and representatives from the EDC and Platte County selected Convention, Sports and Leisure of Plano, Texas, along with DiSalvo Development Advisors of Dublin, Ohio. The firms — with DiSalvo acting as a subcontractor to CSL — have done work in the Kansas City area and have experience with similar sports complex developments. The budgeted cost for the feasibility study is $40,000, with $35,000 from the general fund and $5,000 from the economic development fund. Finance Committee chair and Alderman Jim Werner pointed out the expected $5,000 from the economic development fund was not available. “This is fantastic and I want to get started ASAP, but we do have this $5,000 unaccounted for,” Werner said. Projections for revenues into the economic development fund have fallen short, according to Palmer’s report. A budget deficit in 2011 was recently discovered and accounted for, but threw off projections, she said, and revenue from the City’s guest room tax was down. However, the EDC committed $1,500 toward a preliminary site plan for the project, but as the City was able to secure that work pro bono, the funding would be available and Palmer said City staff will request the EDC contribute that total to the project. Palmer assured Werner that the City would not be $5,000 short on the project, and would continue to look into budget alternatives to take care of this bump in the road. The committee agreed to send the CSL contract on to the Board of Aldermen next week for final approval. It’s never too early to begin budget season, or to address the City’s deficit in its transportation fund. The committee discussed what Palmer calls a structural deficit in its transportation fund. For several years, the fund, which pays for street maintenance, repairs and related work, has been funded through transfers made from a surplus in the departmental budget. That surplus fund is running dry, and Palmer said she expects it to be depleted by the end of the year. Additionally, the public works department needs another employee to complete projects. Aldermen expressed concerns with hiring a new employee and then potentially cutting the position later when the funding problems are addressed, however, the extra help is needed to complete projects now. In the short term, the work needs to be done, but in the long term the City also needs a way to address the budget shortfall. The department’s budget could be shored up by transfers from the general fund, the City could look into alternate revenue sources or reductions of staff could be considered. All options would be discussed during budget meetings to come, the committee determined. Also at the meeting, the committee approved the selection of TSYS Merchant Solutions to provide credit and debit card processing for payments made at City Hall. The Parkville municipal court has accepted credit and debit card payments for several years, but sewer bills, city licenses and permits must be paid by cash or check. “Speaking anecdotally, this is something we get asked about all the time,” Palmer said. TSYS handles the municipal court payments and the system can be expanded to City Hall services, although there would be a surcharge involved. Phase two of the customer convenience initiative would see the City establishing a portal for online bill payments. With a setup fee of $59, a monthly fee of about $28 per month per account – with the City requiring at least two – and options on how to handle surcharges, TSYS was the most attractive option.