Jay Warren


Name: Jay Warren

Position you are running for: City Commission of Arkansas City

Family members (e.g. spouse, children, grandchildren):

  • Wife, Nancy.
  • Son, Chris, who works in management at the Kellogg plant in Kansas City. He has three children, Ashlyn, Jocelyn and Gavin.
  • Daughter, Dru, who is a teacher and school psychologist, and her husband, Ben Walter, of Wichita. They have three children, as well, Thomas, Theodor and Caroline.
  • Daughter, Molly, who is an RN at St. Luke’s in Kansas City and a grad student at WSU seeking her doctorate of nursing. She is married to Trevor Harris, a graduate student of UMKC School of Dentistry.

How long have you lived in Arkansas City?

I am a lifetime resident.

Have you served on any boards previously?

I am the treasurer of the Arkansas City Optimist Club, a member of the Strother Field Commission, current chairman of the board at Central Christian Church and an ex officio member of the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum Board.

(Editor’s note: Warren also has been a city commissioner for eight years, serving two terms as mayor.)

Why did you choose to run for this position?

My family always emphasized public service. My uncle, Joe Warren, was a state senator for 36 years. I believe strongly in serving the community.

South Central Kansas Medical Center (SCKMC) currently owes around $2 million to the City of Arkansas City in loan repayment, plus continued special assessment payments. SCKMC has promised to start repaying the city by the beginning of 2018. What steps, if any, do you think should be taken to address this issue? In general, what does the city need to do to ensure continued financial stability for SCKMC? Do you think significantly reorganizing and/or selling SCKMC should occur, and if so, why?

No steps should be taken at this time. I would not agree to selling the hospital at this point in time.

The hospital board includes our city manager and one commissioner. Our greatest need is more doctors. We also need the State of Kansas to approve Medicaid expansion. Hopefully, the federal government will find a solution to our current health care dilemma. These issues have created problems for our local hospital.

The City of Arkansas City in 2018 will provide $75,000 to Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum, $45,000 to Cowley First, $30,000 to the Cowley County Humane Society, $17,200 to the City-Cowley County Health Department and $10,000 to the Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce. Do you think any of these amounts should be increased, decreased or eliminated in future years, and if so, why?

When these entities make their requests, each must be considered according to their needs and their contributions to our community. The museum is much improved and vital to maintaining our history.

The 2018 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) outlines a $4 million reconstruction project for North Summit Street from Kansas Avenue to Radio Lane. This project would impact many businesses and likely need to be paid for by issuing some debt. What is your opinion of this proposal, and why?

We currently have approximately $500,000 per year from our budget going to the repayment of bond debt.

This debt will be paid off in 2019. During the following 10-year period, we would accumulate a total of over $5 million dollars, which could be used for major reconstruction projects as deemed necessary by the commission. This would be done without issuing any new debt.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) have indicated substantial upgrades need to be made to the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which is more than 50 years old. A $22.25 million project is proposed over the next two years. There is cash to cover the first phase, but the second phase would require a loan similar to the one KDHE issued for the new Water Treatment Facility. Some parts of the current WWTP can be upgraded and reused. What is your opinion of this project, and why?

Last month, KDHE renewed our wastewater system for five years. This allows us more time to study and make improvements to the system. This decision was due in part to our new Water Treatment Facility.

The CIP includes $500,000 annually for continued water line replacement, as well as $1.75 million in 2019 for a new water tower and redundant water line to serve Arkansas City east of the Walnut River. How much priority should these projects, as well as ongoing well rehabilitation efforts, be given in future city budgets? Should more or less money be spent on new water lines?

Water lines are a priority. If funding becomes available, I believe the water tower should be the next priority.

Much progress has already been made in the installation of new water lines, which have the added value of greater fire protection. Four (4) miles of new water line have been completed.

The Wilson Park Master Plan has received a lot of coverage this year. Currently, the plan is to use very little city funds for this project, with the majority of the cost being paid for by private donors. Do you think the city should allocate public money to make this plan become a reality? How many years do you think it should take to complete the entire master plan improvements?

I do not think the city should put any taxpayer money into this master plan. We have discussed using in-kind services (services performed by city employees) for sections of this project. I would hope this could be completed in about five years.

The City of Arkansas City plans to transition to four-day sanitation and start a pilot curbside recycling program east of the Walnut River later this year or early next year. Would you like to see a full-blown curbside recycling program throughout the city, and if so, should it be mandatory? Alternatively, should sanitation be privatized, and if so, why?

I think we should begin with voluntary recycling east of the Walnut and then assess whether or not it is working as planned. If it proves to be successful, we could then continue with other sections of the city. I don’t see a need to privatize the system any time in the near future.

The City of Arkansas City plans to spend $100,000 a year for the next 10 years to tear down dangerous structures. Do you think this is too much or too little money, or should the city stop tearing down dangerous structures entirely?

It may not be enough to continue for a 10-year period. Other areas might need to be cut to fund this. The city must continue to demolish these dangerous structures for the safety of our citizens.

City staff have indicated the need to find a new dedicated funding stream for streets to be able to do any major projects in the future, beyond very basic maintenance. A street sales tax is unlikely as long as 1.5% of the current sales tax goes to SCKMC. What do you think the City of Arkansas City should do to address this?

Currently, we can only chip seal and patch potholes. There is no funding beyond this. The sales tax from 2009-2014 generated $3.9 million dollars for street projects. An additional $2.1 million came from grants and other funding, allowing us to do over $7 million in street projects.

A $50,000 master plan study of Paris Park, Paris Park Pool, the Agri-Business Building and surrounding facilities is planned in 2018. In particular, the pool and the Ag Building need a lot of investment into deferred maintenance. What is your vision for that area? (Please be specific.)

Because we are investing in a master plan, I would wait until the study is completed and listed to their suggestions.

This should be the vision of the citizens (their representatives) doing the study, rather than my vision.

There is a plan to complete the hike-bike trail loop in the next couple of years. What kinds of alternative transportation options (bike lanes, new sidewalks and crosswalks, hike-bike extensions, etc.) do you want to see in the future, if any, as part of a 10- or 20-year Complete Streets Plan?

I would like to see a loop extending from Paris Park to the Hafner Sports Complex. We need a partnership of public and private funding to complete this project.

How important is brick rehabilitation to you? How much money do you think the City of Arkansas City should spend on it? Should the city just focus on the downtown area and pave over residential streets, or address bricks equally throughout the entire community?

Brick streets have incredible longevity and I feel we should preserve as many as we possibly can. A portion of the money accumulated after repayment of our bond debt (2018-2019) could be allocated for preservation of these brick streets.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you or why you are seeking this position?

Our new water plant will be online at the end of this year. The state has approved our extended water rights.

This will allow us to be a regional water distribution center, meaning we will have the potential to supply water to all of Cowley County, across our south border and to any large water consumer interested in locating in our community.

For example, KanPak is considering laying a dedicated line from the water plant in order to develop new products. Our osmosis and membrane system makes Ark City an ideal location for companies like KanPak or pharmaceutical manufacturers who need this type of quality water system.

Besides our people, this plant will become our greatest asset.

I would like to see our building codes made more people-friendly to enable our citizens to work on their own properties. Our concerns about the 2015 codes have been brought to the Building Trades Board and they are working on revisions.

I’d like to see more affordable housing, retail and restaurants.

This information was provided by Jay Warren, current (elected) member of and candidate for the City Commission of Arkansas City.