Mayor Michelle De La Isla thanked public works director Jason Peek Tuesday evening for building trust in the city's ability to effectively fix its streets to the point that Topekans this month voted, 61 percent to 39 percent, to extend a citywide, half-cent sales tax.
Voters on Nov. 6 approved a 10-year extension of the tax, which is used to finance improvements to existing streets and street infrastructure.
Councilwoman Karen Hiller joined De La Isla at Tuesday's council meeting in voicing praise for the work being done to fix Topeka's streets.
They spoke after Peek gave a report about his department's accomplishments over the third quarter of the year to the city's governing body, which consists of the nine city council members and De La Isla.
Council members Sandra Clear and Brendan Jensen were absent from Tuesday's meeting, where De La Isla talked about her participation last week in the 71st annual National Session of the Mayors’ Institute at Miami. The mayor made a presentation there about Topeka's riverfront development efforts.
Topeka was among eight cities selected to receive tools and support from the institute, identified on its website as a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
De La Isla said top nationwide consultants over the next year will help Topeka move forward with developing its riverfront, meaning the city will receive free resources for which it would normally have had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.
She added, "You have no idea how many people from the outside are looking at all of us right now and being very impressed with everything that's happening in this city."
Governing body members on Tuesday also:
• Voted 8-0 to authorize the city engineer's office to determine what property interests the city needs to acquire through condemnation as easements for a project that will involve realigning S.W. Winding Road near S.W. Arvonia.
• Took no action after spending 60 minutes behind closed doors in executive session receiving legal advice regarding contract negotiations.
• Heard a third-quarter report from utilities department deputy director Braxton Copley.
• Took no action after hearing city staff members share information about a proposal the governing body plans to consider Dec. 4.
The measure would require reports to be submitted to the city online instead of on paper after being filled out by liquid waste haulers who discharge liquid waste into city wastewater disposal facilities or provide pumping or servicing of residential or commercial facilities.