Lee’s Summit City Council gave Hy-Vee the go-ahead to expand its plan for a convenience store on Langsford Road.
The council approved adding a drive-through coffee shop in a 7-1 vote Feb. 6, with Derek Holland voting no.
City staff said the addition won’t create enough additional traffic to require more road improvements than the city and Hy-Vee had agreed to when the store with gas pumps was first approved.
The council also voted to draft an ordinance to create an urban-renewal area for Lakewood Business Park, which would allow redevelopment projects there to apply for tax incentives.
A lengthy discussion preceded a vote passing an ordinance setting a minimum for its general fund reserves. Opponents argued it was unnecessary.
The city already had a resolution passed by a previous council setting that goal at 20 percent, with an additional 5 percent being set aside for economic development opportunities.
For years the city met that goal, with the exception of period when it had to pay a large settlement in a lawsuit. The reserve since has been rebuilt to about 25 percent, city staff said.
The ordinance, suggested by the council’s Finance Committee, actually sets a lower limit. It requires the city to have nearly 17 percent of its annual general fund spending (about two months) as the average balance. That is a minimum amount suggested by the Government Finance Officers Association. The ordinance also requires a super majority of council members to re-appropriate spending, if the reserve falls to less than 20 percent.
Council members Brian Whitley, Bob Johnson, Holland, Allan Gray and David Mosby voted for the ordinance, Ed Cockrell, Rob Binney and Kathy Hofmann, voted no.
Cockrell noted that the council had historically been very protective of having reserve funds.
“Have we broken the bank, busted the buck?” Cockrell said.
He said a future council could easily undo the ordinance anyway, if it desired. The ordinance also doesn’t have any teeth, he said.
The city’s interim City Attorney Rich Wood said that if the council passes a budget that violates that particular ordinance, it would supersede the ordinance setting the limit.
Cockrell said, in an interview, he thought the ordinance passed Feb. 6 could become a political weapon council members might use to bludgeon opponents or staff.
Johnson said the ordinance would make it much more difficult for a council to cut its reserves to where they are too thin.
He noted the city is facing belt tightening.
“We won’t see the reserve balances of the past,” Johnson said.
He said it would provide bond-rating companies like Moody’s with information that encourages them to give the city high credit ratings.
Cockrell pooh-poohed that, noting that the city for decades had strong bond ratings, based on its actual reserves.
Binney said, “It leaves me scratching my head, why we’re doing anything at all.”
Holland said he initially had some of the same concerns.
He said the finance department every year gets questions about the fund balance, and the ordinance would help that process.
“This is only a floor,” Holland said. “We’d meet a higher requirement than this.”