Ankeny Finest Move On

Recently Gannett reported the following – Interesting to see how many have decided to move on.  Fortunately for Ankeny taxpayers – it will cut the budget as most of these positions do not need to be refilled and will allow for lower tax rates.  It is time for the elected to make good on that promise!!!

14 Ankeny workers opt for retirement

Mayor says ‘lots of reorganization’ to follow after list of those taking incentives revealed

The city of Ankeny will lose 14 employees to early retirement by the end of 2013, and elected officials now have to decide which of those positions to rehire.

The Ankeny City Council unanimously approved in October to offer the early retirement incentive to employees 55 and older. The voluntary incentive program was offered to 36 eligible employees. Notifications of intent were due Dec. 14.

The plan was exactly the same as the one offered nearly four years ago. Employees who chose to retire will receive 70 percent of their base salary in a health savings account.

This was the largest group of people to volunteer for early retirement, Mayor Gary Lorenz said.

“It’s going to open it up for a lot of reorganization,” Lorenz said.

Department officials retiring are: James Spradling, city manager; Rex Mundt, fire chief; Debra Dyar, public relations officer; Thomas Verrips, golf course superintendent; and Jolee Belzung, director of municipal utilities. Other employees include Dorothy Spinler, Thomas Blair, Ronald Kirkpatrick, Deborah Schaffer, Patricia Kuhn, David Smith, Craig Phinney, Jolene Schwery and David Duval.

The proposal to bring back the early retirement program came from the newly formed budget efficiency committee. The goal of that group is to focus on stabilizing the city’s operating funds. Councilman Mark Holm serves on that committee and said the group will now closely examine the upcoming openings.

“Some of those positions are going to have to be refilled,” Holm said. “Other ones we’re going to take a long hard look at to see if margining of responsibilities can happen.”

Councilman Dave Kissinger supported the early retirement program, calling it a benefit to both the employees and the city. However, the absence of those workers will be noticed.

“We are losing some very, very qualified, excellent people,” Kissinger said. “Many of which are leaders in their department or the city itself, and that is very difficult to replace.”

Ankeny Talks is Back

After an extended period of vacation,  Ankeny Talks is back and ready to discuss all things Ankeny.

1.  See Dr. Wendt is still the hot topic of controversy.  Tough duty being on the school board now.  Seems like the previous school board gave him some expectations and the current school board was delt a bad hand.  Wendt pulled the big one of the century on the community and double dipped.  Two ways to look at it!

A.  You go Wendt – you wanted out and it was a good way to poke a stick in the voters who changed out your school board.

B.  Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions on boards and this was one of those times but seriously – it was what the voters wanted – Wendt gone and that is done!  Let it go.

2.  Looks like there is a city council election.  Interesting that Mark Holm and Jim McKenna, the two newly elected “tax watchdogs” carried the petitions to have an election after voting to support Dennis Rafdal who could have served the next few months and then a regular election could be held.  Doesn’t sound  like they are interested is cutting taxes as they say the elections cost about $12,000 each…that’s $24,000+ of unneeded government expenditures!

3.  Next question is do they have the petitions ready for the Mayor race after Steve VanOort is elected County Supervisor in November?  That will be another $24,000+.  And they call themselves “tax watchdogs”.

Thanks for hanging with me during the time off.  Read the Ankeny Patch who brought things up to speed.  Ankeny Talks is back and ready to talk.

Ankeny Needs Jacquie Holm-Smith

Jackie Holm-Smith is a tiger!  Once she gets her arms around something she goes after it and such is the Ankeny Dog Park project.  In fact Ankeny led the way and now even Des Moines is asking for a dog park.  Jackie is the type of person we need on the Ankeny City Council – someone with vision and energy.  Someone who really cares about this community.

Ankeny Dog Park invites dogs and dog lovers to free Open House – June 9!

Contact:
Jacquie Holm-Smith
515.419.3148
jdholmsmith@msn.com

Ankeny Dog Park

ANKENY, Iowa (May 30, 2012) – Dogs and dog lovers are invited to an Open House at the Ankeny Dog Park – Saturday, June 9, from 9:00 a.m.-Noon.

The free event will give the public an opportunity to explore the 7.5-acre off-leash Park and its amenities, including separate large and small dog areas, a fenced pond, and drinking fountains for people and pooches. (Passes not required, but dogs must be socialized and current on vaccinations.) Souce:  City of Ankeny 

Aging Population in Ankeny

The 2010 census says that Ankeny is a young community.  Kids abound, schools abound and new residences are mushrooming up.

But what does Ankeny do for the seniors in the community?

According to the 2010 census persons over 65 are about 8.3% of the population.  That does not sound like much but seriously, let’s face it those seniors are a strong fabric in the community and deserve something for all their years of living here and helping build the community.

The question is “What does Ankeny do for the seniors in the community?”

Thoughts go to the strong library program, the Senior Center, the Historical Society, some walking paths.  There are probably more but it’s time to gear up and face reality.

The Mayor needs to establish a Senior Advisory Council (like the Ankeny Youth Council) to get input from these valuable over 55 residents.  Let’s see if Mayor VanOort will listen.

Ankeny Population Exceeds 45,000

Ankeny Facts:

The 2010 Ankeny Census reported 45,582 persons.  With 9.2% of that population under 5 years old!  27.7% of that number is under 18 years old.  That is incredible!

The report tells us that Ankeny is a young community.  A young community needs many things to keep it going including good shopping, restaurants and recreation.

The concern of many folks is are Ankenyites willing to pay for what it takes to keep growing and young folks moving here?  Are the taxes too high?  Where should changes be made to keep government efficient?  Where should expansion occur?  What is the most important thing in your life and why do you live here?

Source:  http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/19/1902305.html

 

 

 

Good News – School is Out – Ankeny Gears Up

Ankeny schools are out and the children are finding new things to do.  The library reports record numbers of students already coming in and the pools had a big holiday weekend.

Vacation Bible school is starting, Ankeny Parks and Recreation events are going full tilt, Y Camps and the Art Center are gearing up.

The important thing is Ankeny offers their children and families many opportunties to grow, have fun and build on the American dream.

The question is:  Will Ankeny keep the pace of growth that has been experienced over the last several years?  Predictors say yes – are city leaders and council members prepared for that?

Ankeny Ranks 12th

The Ankeny tax rate is $43.11/$1000 of valuation.  Now that may seem like chum change to Donald Trump but it’s not in Iowa.  Taxes on a $150,000 home are about $3200+.

Approximately one half of of that tax money that goes to the schools.  Currently the school system is getting ready for another bond issue to build more classroom space.

The question is – how long will the number of Ankeny students continue to grow if the schools can’t reign in their spending to keep the property taxes in a range that is reasonable for young families?

RANK BY OVERALL TAX RATE

CITY (SCHOOL) RANK TOTAL
Sheldahl
Clive
West Des Moines
Urbandale
Polk City
Johnston
Elkhart
Alleman
Grimes
Altoona
Granger
Ankeny
Windsor Heights
Runnells
Pleasant Hill
Bondurant
Des Moines
Mitchellville
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
33.81908
34.25586
36.91101
38.15168
38.60695
39.30025
40.50843
40.92512
41.23554
41.71982
41.79559
43.11429
43.23416
43.42763
44.14613
44.79223
45.98095
47.23202

Ankeny Tax Rate

Reasons the City Council Needs Help

The Ankeny City Council proudly announced they held the line on the budget this year.  Ankeny ranks 8th in city property taxes in this area.  (see Chart)   The question is exactly how regressive will this council get when it comes to “keeping up with the Joneses” and making Ankeny a place people want to move to. Mark Holm has voted against almost anything of significance since his election with Jim McKenna following suit.  Interesting situation because Holm was the one who is making the city spend money on a primary election by presenting the petition.  Guess we will have to see what he wants to cut to make up for that $12,000 he is spending that wasn’t in the budget.

RANK BY CITY TAX RATE  Source:  http://www.ankenyiowa.gov/Index.aspx?page=190

CITY RANK RATE
Sheldahl
Polk City
Altoona
Urbandale
Clive
Elkhart
Alleman
Runnells
Johnston
Ankeny
Pleasant Hill
West Des Moines
Grimes
Windsor Heights
Bondurant
Mitchellville
Des Moines
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
3.20265
7.90000
9.14369
9.52000
9.54485
9.89600
10.23269
10.89865
11.09579
11.17646
11.65000
12.05000
12.90318
13.31486
14.13096
14.72889
16.58000

Dr. Wendt Leaves Ankeny Schools

Dr. Matthew Wendt Resigns as Superintendent of Ankeny Community Schools

To say that everyone in Ankeny will be sad is not quite the truth.  The last school board election was a bell ringer to the administration that the multitudes were not happy.  Ankenyites are concerned about high property taxes and the school currently takes the biggest slice of those dollars.  (see chart below with 2012 school taxes)  Ankeny is the third highest school tax in the area.  NOT good for economic development.

Dr. Matthew Wendt submitted his resignation today as Superintendent of Ankeny Community School District.  The Board of Directors offered Dr. Wendt a three-year contract, including a 3.25% salary increase, but also included an option for Dr. Wendt to receive a transition allowance if he elected to resign.  The transition allowance, equal to one year’s salary at the current rate (but without insurance benefits) replaced a four-year severance payout previously installed in the Superintendent’s contract.  http://www.ankeny.k12.ia.us/

Dollars per $1,000 Taxable Value

RANK BY SCHOOL TAX RATE  Source: http://www.ankenyiowa.gov/Index.aspx?page=190 

SCHOOL DISTRICT RANK RATE
West Des Moines
Saydel
Collins- Maxwell
PCM (Prairie City)
Madrid
Johnston
Dallas Center-Grimes
Urbandale
Des Moines
Woodward-Granger
Bondurant-Farrar
North Polk
Carlisle
Ankeny 
Southeast Polk
Ballard
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
13.84954
13.97969
14.87197
15.96909
17.12553
17.34599
17.50189
17.63590
18.34848
19.75058
19.82980
19.85396
20.65059
21.07036 
21.65866
23.29802