Wellington City Council forum: Jan Korte

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Jan Korte is a Wellington City Council incumbent running for one of six “at large” positions on the newly restructured board.

Registered voters within the Wellington city limits can vote in this race which will have 15 candidates on the ballot. The top three vote-getters will receive four-year terms. The second three will receive two-year terms.

Voters can vote for up to six candidates. They can vote for one candidate, two candidates, three, four, five or six – but nothing more.

The city/school election will be held on Tuesday, April 2. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. at the Raymond Frye Complex. People can also advance vote at the Sumner County Clerk’s office.

The following is a list of questions submitted to Korte.

1. Tell us about yourself.

Korte: I graduated from Emporia State University with a BS in Business Administration and a concentration in accounting and a minor in economics.  I have been a Certified Public Accountant and have served Wellington tax clients and small businesses for 27 years.  Along with my husband, Frank, we owned and operated motels in the area for 22 years.

Before election to the council I served on the Building Board of Examiners and Appeals, the Public Building Commission, the Library Board and the Health Care Authority. I have been an active volunteer for many years serving in Wellington and on the state level.

2. What is the main reason why you are running for Wellington City Council?

Korte: One must be on the council for more than one year to have greater influence and see projects to completion.  I have not finished the job I started one year ago thus I wish to be re-elected.

3. Losing businesses is an ongoing concern to the community of Wellington. What do you as a city council member believe you can do to stop the exodus and enhance business growth?

Korte: The city can maintain a friendly attitude toward business.  Minimize regulations which create problems for businesses and control the city portion of property tax.

4. The current Wellington City Council is studying ways to supply water to oil companies. What is your position on the matter?

Korte: If it is possible to supply water to oil companies without compromising water service in our area, I believe the city should help the oil companies with their drilling efforts.  Discovery and production of oil from this area in Kansas would help the community, the state and the country.

5. Staying with water, because of the current drought, the water level is low at the Wellington City Lake. Do you favor other alternative water sourcing, or do you believe we should remain status quo on our water resources? Also, will you ever be in favor of water rationing?

Korte: A water study was completed several weeks ago and one of the suggestions from that study is to explore drilling additional wells.  If the exploration is successful, I am in favor of the new wells.  I have faith that the “current drought” will subside and sufficient rain will fall.  Of course we can expect drought to occur in future years.  The wells are back up for such times.  I also favor dredging the lake when necessary to maintain necessary depth.

The city has a water conservation plan which sets out action at various levels of available water supply.  I believe the plan should be followed.  I believe the city employees and management do a good job of following the plan.  Even though currently our water supply is fine when considering the use level, I hope that all citizens would take care to use the resource responsibility.

6. The total assessed valuation in Wellington went down in 2012, but may remain constant or improve with the inclusion of Wal-Mart on the tax roll in 2013. However, this may not be the case in the next four years. If Wellington has a lower assessed value as the previous year, how would you as a council member respond to the lack of tax revenue for the municipality?

Korte: The council was able to maintain the current mill levy with the 2013 budget even though valuation went down.  I believe we should not borrow trouble from the future.  We do not know what lies ahead regarding property valuation or mile levy.  So many other circumstances affect the amount of money available to the city.

Spending must not be greater than income, a very simple concept.   I do hope the citizens will elect a council who can deal with such issues as they come.

7. Many believe Wellington has trouble promoting itself to outsiders. Do you believe as a tax entity, the city should initiate various promotional programs and if so what would you think they should be?

Korte: Promoting the city should have economic development as an objective.   The guest tax provides funds for promotion of the city and the convention bureau which is associated with the Chamber of Commerce uses money from that fund to promote Wellington by advertising in various publications.

We must all maintain a positive attitude about our city and project that attitude to everyone we come in contact with.  Promotion can be done by every citizen.

8. Do you believe in tax incentives to lure in private business? If so or not, please explain.

Korte: Yes, I do believe in using tax incentives to lure in private business.  Such incentives can take many forms and should apply to the situation.  Many other municipalities offer tax incentives.  Wellington should be ready to be completive.

9. The Wellington utility rates continue to be a concern to many citizens, especially the fuel adjustment rates. Do you believe they are reasonable and in line with other communities? Should the city make a change in the way it handles utilities? 

Korte: Utility rates in Wellington are similar to other cities in this area.  Cost of utilities are high everywhere.  Our electric rates are a little higher than Westar.  Our water rates a little lower than most other cities in this area.  To reduce rates the city would have to reduce expenses.

This means jobs would have to be cut and along with those jobs services.  Wages are the major expenditure for the city.  If services are reduced, the manufacturing we have in Wellington will suffer.  In this event I would project a downward spiral.  Are citizens ready for such a move?

10. What would you say is Wellington’s biggest concern over the next four years?

Korte: Economic development:  The city has become proactive by contacting businesses which may be considering moving their operation.  Our Economic Development/Grant Writer has been actively promoting Wellington as a possible location for such businesses.

Street repair:  The city is working on a way to get a fund started for street repair.  The current budget does not have enough money allocated for streets to complete the needed repairs.   In the future some sales taxes will sunset; new sales tax could be designated for street repair if citizens are agreeable.

Water Supply:  A water study has been completed.  The suggestion is that the city explore the possibility of drilling additional wells for supplemental water supply.  This process is underway.  A plan is in place to replace old water lines.

Maintaining Hospital Service:   We must not forget about the Hospital.  Yes we did pass a sales tax to help support the service in the community, however health care in the current environment is a tough business and I believe we should be vigilant to keep the hospital in our community.

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