2023 State of the City Address

2023 State of the City Address
Posted on 02/15/2023

Below is the text of Mayor Mike Boehm's prepared remarks for the 2023 State of the City address. Boehm gave his final State of the City Speech on Feb. 15, 2023, after announcing he will not run for reelection. 

Throughout my twenty years of delivering this address, the Chamber has been under the direction of Blake Schreck. In just a few days, he will retire after serving Lenexa since 1999. Blake, your leadership has helped shape Lenexa and Johnson County and we are grateful for your service. Will you all join me in thanking Blake for his dedication to our community? We welcome Ashley Sherard in her new role as Chamber President and know the organization will continue to thrive under her leadership.

A special thanks to Evergy for sponsoring my annual address for each of the last 20-years. I’d also recognize those from the Hyatt Place our caterer today, Paulo and Bill Restaurant, and thank them for their service today. To my Commerce Bank associates, thank you for your support and covering for me when city commitments require time away from bank responsibilities.

I’d like to acknowledge our dedicated volunteers – especially those who serve on our boards, councils, and commissions – and thank you for your dedication to Lenexa.

I am proud to have served with 29-councilmembers over the past 28 years, including our current City Council members; a group of eight that are as talented and dedicated as any proceeding them. We bring diverse perspectives to the table and conduct business in a respectful manner that is centered on doing the right things for the right reasons for the entire community.

As introduced, I’d ask each Council Member to stand. Please hold your applause until the end. Melanie Arroyo, Craig Denny, Courtney Eiterich, Joe Karlin, Bill Nicks, Tom Nolte, Dan Roh and Julie Sayers.

Engaged citizens are part of a successful democracy. I encourage you to reach out to Council members with questions or ideas. We invite you to attend our City Council meetings or watch a recording of the meeting by visiting Lenexa.com.

The Council sets policy and the strategic direction for Lenexa and we rely on the City’s professional staff to manage day-to-day operations. More than 750 people are employed by the City of Lenexa. They serve in wide-ranging roles – from crime analysists and fitness instructors to street maintenance workers and court clerks. While the jobs they perform are varied, what they have in common is an unwavering dedication to excellence, a strong work ethic, and a caring approach to everyday work. I’d like to recognize all city employees for their hard work and ask those joining us today to stand. Please join me in thanking them for their commitment to Lenexa.

Executive staff and department directors lead the talented Lenexa team. As I introduce each management team member, I ask them to stand and be recognized; again, I would ask you to hold your applause until the end. City Manager Beccy Yocham, Deputy City Manager Todd Pelham, Assistant City Manager Mike Nolan, Police Chief Dawn Layman, Fire Chief Travis Vaughn, City Attorney Sean McLaughlin, Community Development Director Scott McCullough, Municipal Services Director Nick Arena, Information Technology Director Jerry Swingle, Parks & Recreation Director Logan Wagler, Human Resource Director Jim Bowers, Communications Director Denise Rendina and Finance Director Nate Blum, who joined the organization last April.

Nate and his team prepare the Annual Budget and Capital Improvement Program, manage the City’s investment portfolio, are responsible for payroll and accounting functions, help ensure we are good stewards of public funds and are responsible for the city’s debt issuance.

The City remains in a healthy fiscal condition, and our five-year financial model indicates this will continue into the future.
Once again, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed the city’s AAA rating citing Lenexa’s smart budgeting practices and our robust and growing economy as indicators of our strong financial position.

The City Council approved a $144 million budget for 2023 expanding programs and services and was able to reduce the property tax rate by nearly one-mill due to continued commercial investment and residential growth. This marks the City’s fifth mill levy reduction during the past five years.

The current five-year Capital Improvement Program includes 41 projects that total more than $245 million. We will explore some of those exciting projects a bit later. We welcome input about spending priorities and encourage you to read more about the budget on the City’s website.

New Investment and Redevelopment are thriving in Lenexa. Last year’s total value of new permitted construction was more than $332 million, making 2022 one of the top five years for construction in our history. Commercial construction accounted for 64% of the total investment and 36% was residential construction.

Our pro-growth approach is fostered by the Chamber of Commerce, the Lenexa Economic Development Council, and City staff – including members of the Executive, Legal and Community Development departments. With numerous projects in the pipeline, 2023 should be another exceptional year for development.

Last year progress was made on updating the Comprehensive Plan, which will guide growth and development in Lenexa over the next 20 years. The plan will be both aspirational – reflecting the vision of the community – and technical in nature, laying out the framework for how development will occur. Community members and business representatives have provided valuable input during the process, and we thank them for sharing their opinions and expertise. Work on the Comprehensive Plan continues with the final plan draft coming before City Council for consideration later this year.

We continue to encourage reinvestment in established neighborhoods and business districts. Nine residents living in Old Town were awarded more than $36,000 through our Exterior Grant Program. These funds spurred nearly $100,000 worth of private investment in homes built between 1900 and 1955. For the 2023 budget, we have increased the program’s funding to $90,000. Applications for this year will begin March 1 and run through April 15.

The Community Development Department has a wide range of responsibilities providing services related to building and construction, licensing and permitting, planning and zoning, and enforcing codes.

Last year, the Building Services Division conducted more than 9,400 inspections to ensure construction projects meet city codes.
Congratulations to Senior Plans Analyst David Byl, who was recognized by the International Code Council and received their Meritorious Service Award.

The Licensing & Permitting Division issued more than 4,500 business licenses and 950 rental licenses.

The Planning and Development Division facilitated 113 applications for the Planning Commission's consideration.

The Community Standards Division worked more than 3,000 cases last year along with thousands of inspections to ensure our neighborhoods remain safe and appealing by enforcing property maintenance codes.

Angel Whitaker, who leads the Community Standards Division, was chosen by coworkers as Lenexa’s Employee of the Year. Thanks to Angel for her exceptional work. We are grateful for her team’s ability to successfully manage these complex issues.

The Lenexa Police Department takes a proactive approach to policing to help deter crime. You will regularly find officers out in the community actively engaging residents to build relationships and understand their needs and concerns. Last year, Lenexa PD responded to more than 41,000 calls for service.

The Police Department implemented SPIDR Tech, a communication tool which provides helpful follow-up information to many who call for service. Lenexa is the first agency in Kansas and the metro area to use this system.

After many years of informal meetings, the Police Community Advisory Board held its first meetings as an appointed board in 2022. These seven volunteers create an avenue for formalized dialogue between Police and community members. They share constituent perspectives, help analyze department strategies, and facilitate community relationships.

In 2022, the Lenexa Fire Department was honored as one of the nation’s top fire agencies when it was reaccredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International for the fifth time. Only 301 international agencies of the 30,000 nationwide have this distinction, and Lenexa is one of just 114 of accredited agencies to also have a Class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office.

Last year the Fire Department responded to 6,820 incidents and conducted more than 5,300 fire and safety inspections.

The Fire Department has been operating part-time out of the former City Hall building to enhance response times in northeast Lenexa. A new climate-controlled structure is under construction behind the former City Hall building to protect fire apparatus equipment and medical supplies from extreme temperatures and allow crews to work from this site year-round. Planning for a permanent fire station at this location will continue to be studied.

The Fire Department continues to use technology to improve services. A streamlined software system implemented last year allows staff to document calls more efficiently and improve the department's access to analytics.

Emergency preparedness is a priority for all Lenexa departments. In June, a tornado touched down in Lenexa. Fortunately, the damage from the tornado was confined to a relatively small area and no lives were lost. However, this incident was a good reminder that everyone in our community should be informed about what to do if disaster strikes. We share emergency preparedness information throughout the year and encourage you to talk about readiness at work and home.

After the tornado, Municipal Services and Parks & Recreation crews arrived quickly to clear streets and make way for utility repair vehicles. Work continued in the following days as the team collected 224 truckloads of debris from impacted neighborhoods. They also staffed a location at the service center where 247 residents dropped off storm debris.

There are approximately 24,000 public works agencies in the United States and Lenexa’s Municipal Services Department is one of only 178 agencies that are accredited.

With more than 80 lane miles of roads built in the last decade, the job of maintaining our infrastructure is more complex than ever.

They repair, maintain, and remove snow from a total of 842 lane miles of roads and 45 miles of hiking and biking trails.

They also maintain 40 city facilities which are powered by 100% clean renewable energy.

Parks & Recreation team members create experiences which keep everyone from toddlers to seniors active. They manage 887 acres of park land, the Rec Center, Senior Center, Community Center, Thompson Barn and our 3 outdoor pools, and to ensure residents can enjoy our trails throughout the year, our parks crews implemented a new program which removes snow from many of our trails.

Parks & Recreation also took over the management of the Legler Barn Museum and Depot in Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park in 2022. New programming and exhibits will highlight our rich history and historic artifacts in the coming years. I’d like to take a moment to recognize and thank the many Lenexa Historical Society volunteers for over 30 years of dedicated service to the museum.

A new Parks & Recreation Master Plan will help define future amenities, park and trail locations, and programs for the coming decades. Residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the new master plan in the coming months, and I hope you will engage in the process as community feedback is vital for the plan’s success.

Parks & Recreation Director Logan Wagler served as President of the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association last year. I commend him for taking on this responsibility and sharing his extensive knowledge with Parks & Recreation professionals across Kansas.

To better serve the community, Municipal Court’s docket schedule now includes virtual and in-person options for both English and Spanish-speaking defendants.

In 2022, Municipal Court hosted a workshop for court professionals throughout Johnson County to facilitate a better understanding of available mental health and social service resources. Their work in connecting court staff with available resources for those they serve is a benefit for our entire community.

Thanks to Municipal Court Manager Nicole Armstrong and Judge Erika DeMarco for leading this important division.

Lenexa’s Legal Department worked with Municipal Court and community stakeholders to create a mental health diversion program allowing defendants experiencing mental health challenges to receive treatment and reduce recidivism.

The Legal team also implemented changes to our property and casualty insurance and risk management program which resulted in a 23% cost savings of approximately $115,000 over the previous year and allows better control of our claims handling process.

Lenexa’s Communications Department uses a variety of outlets to share information on City projects and amenities. More people now read the TownTalk magazine as we expanded delivery to include all Lenexa businesses. The most recent edition of TownTalk is at your table and includes a great overview of the past year and coming projects.

The Communications team meets people where they are looking for information. You will find timely stories delivered through e-newsletters, social media and our websites. A website redesign process has just begun, and the improved site will better serve our residents and other online users.

Information Technology has the critical task of maintaining, monitoring, and enhancing core technology services for City departments. They ensure system availability, strengthen existing business processes, and maintain a secure technology environment.

Last year, major enhancements were made to the City’s core network infrastructure to provide redundancy and increase capacity. The IT team also enhanced and modernized important software systems like the City’s permitting and licensing application and the Fire Department records management system.

IT explored utility and energy monitoring solutions, which led to the implementation of automated lighting controllers, sump pump monitoring, and HVAC temperature and system enhancements. We will continue to use this information to identify areas to increase energy efficiency and provide proactive system maintenance.

Last year IT Deputy Director Anthony Sitzes obtained his Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification, the most widely recognized cyber-security designation in the industry. We are fortunate to have highly skilled professionals in all levels of our IT Department.

With an exceptional culture, the City of Lenexa has earned the reputation as a great place to work. But that did not shield the city from feeling the impacts of nationwide hiring challenges. We started 2022 with 51 vacant full-time positions, a record high for the city. The Human Resources Department led efforts to update compensation and benefits to ensure we were competitive with neighboring communities and to help attract and retain excellent employees.

Recruiting efforts were successful, as 88 full- and part-time employees were hired last year. Lenexa is always looking for exceptional employees. Currently we have 25 full- and part-time positions open. If you or your family and friends are interested in exploring opportunities, please visit Lenexa.com/jobs.

Employees from every department are involved in construction projects which are reshaping our community. Let’s take a closer look at these projects.

The investments we are making throughout Lenexa will truly benefit generations to come. While construction happens all around us, we also prioritize building community by creating welcoming spaces, hosting special events, and engaging in outreach. We returned to a full schedule of activities last year and celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Rec Center, Public Market and Farmers Market.

With more than 10,000 members, the Rec Center is full of people supporting each other in their wellness goals, and we had a record number of visits in 2022.

More than 26,000 visitors came to the Lenexa Farmers Market last year to purchase high-quality, locally made goods from small makers and growers. According to a customer survey, Farmers Market enthusiasts are visiting other civic campus locations on market days…29% visit the Rec Center, 47% visit the library and 67% visit the Public Market.

The Public Market’s final anchor spot was filled by Cosmo Burger, who was named as one of the top 40 restaurants in the metro by Kansas City Magazine.

Current merchants are also thriving, and the Public Market saw record sales last year. Kate Smith, owner and chef of Butterfield’s Bakery and Market, was named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

With live music and delicious food, Friday Night Soundbites on the Lower Commons is the place to be from late April through October and the Market regularly hosts other memorable events.

Tessa Adcock joined the city as the new Public Market manager in August. She is implementing exciting changes and continues to focus on making the Public Market a wonderful space for entrepreneurs and the community.

Parks and Recreation hosted incredible festivals throughout the year. We welcomed back the Lenexa Art Fair in May and held fan-favorites including the Chili Challenge, BBQ Battle, Old Town’s July 4th parade and Freedom Run, Sar Ko Aglow and many others. With growing popularity, many of these festivals saw record attendance.

Through Parks and Recreation’s efforts, kids learned how to swim and dance, made memories at camp, played sports, and participated in Learning About Lenexa. Adults and seniors enjoyed a variety of sports including a new pickleball league, took educational classes, participated in daytrips, and even learned about Lenexa history through a bus tour.

We continue to help make certain that financial constraints are not a barrier to our programs. Through our scholarships, we defrayed costs for 73 individuals to participate in programs or have a membership at the Rec Center. Nearly $6,000 was raised for this program in last year.

Mark your calendars for April 1 when we will debut our new disc golf courses at Black Hoof Park with a fundraiser for the scholarship program. A special shout-out to Henderson Engineers, the Kansas Flying Disc Association, and Rich Smith for their sponsorship and taking an interest in bringing these new courses to fruition.

Parks and Recreation and the Arts Council keep cultural opportunities thriving in Lenexa. Thousands enjoyed music and theater at outdoor concerts, City Center Live, and performances from our Community Orchestra and were inspired at art exhibits in the gallery at City Hall.

Our teams get creative when planning Lenexa’s special events. Whether it is pumpkins plummeting from an excavator at Municipal Services’ Truck or Treat event or participants racing vegetables on a track at the Farmer’s Market Farm-ula 500, there is always something unique and fun to do in Lenexa.
Our public safety teams also make community engagement a priority.

Between school visits and outreach programs, the Fire Department presented safety and prevention instruction to more than 14,000 people last year. They visited every elementary school and donated a retired fire truck to the Shawnee Mission School District Blue Eagle Program to provide hands-on training to high school students. In October, hundreds of families interacted with firefighters during an open house at Fire Station Three.

The Police Department staff hosted family-friendly events like Popsicles with a Cop and school break bashes. Officers and students from Lenexa schools enjoyed an evening of shopping and wrapping gifts during their Blue Santa Shop with a Cop event.

Police educational workshops explored firearm safety, understanding use of force, and internet safety, including how to watch for scammers.

Both Police and Fire hosted citizen academies where residents get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a successful public safety agency.

Lenexa sets itself apart from other communities through these events and outreach and I encourage everyone to take part in new programs this year.

As you may know, I have chosen not to run for reelection which makes this my final State of the City address. With more than 10 months left in my term, there is still a lot of work to do on your behalf. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to say that it has been an honor to serve Lenexa.

I look back over the past twenty years as your mayor and 31 years of total service to Lenexa with great pride. I know that what we have accomplished has been a team effort – not the work of any one individual. Thank you for trusting me to lead such an extraordinary group of people.

I am excited for the coming years and have confidence that with your involvement, Lenexa will remain a special place. Thank you.

Published February 15, 2023