It's time for Dodge City officials to start forging relationships with the city's Latino population, City Manager Ken Strobel said Wednesday.


Editor's Note: Due to a production error, the  second half of this story did not appear in Thursday's edition of the Daily Globe. Consequently, we are publishing the correct version of the story online and in Friday's editions.
    The Globe regrets the error.
  It's time for Dodge City officials to start forging relationships with the city's Latino population, City Manager Ken Strobel said Wednesday.
    "We have a new situation in Dodge involving the Latino community," he said. "And frankly, folks, we need to deal with that situation in terms of establishing relationship and partnershipping and communication and so on."
    He said the Dodge City Commission will soon consider a proposal to establish a cultural relations advisory board, which will advise the commission on issues affecting minorities.
    Strobel later told the Globe that the proposal was not prompted by a specific incident involving Dodge's minority population. Rather, he said the proposal came about after several years of discussions about the best way to address minority issues.
    The city manager's comments came during the annual State of the City Address, which took place at Casey's Cowtown. The Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, which covered recent developments in city government and provided a preview of the year ahead.

By the numbers
    As usual, much of the address focused on statistics concerning the city's daily operations and finances.
    For instance, Strobel noted that sales tax revenues in 2009 had dropped about 2 percent from the previous year. But he also said that sales tax collections had increased by about 10 percent in the two previous years, so a small drop in the 2009 figures was nothing to be worried about.
    "The sales tax is holding strong, and that's good," he said.
    He also said the mill levy, which is based on the assessed valuation of all property within the city limits, had remained fairly steady over the past few years.
    Sales tax revenues and the assessed valuation are the two main building blocks of the city's budget. Those numbers play key roles in helping city officials decide whether to raise the mill levy, reduce it or keep it flat.
    Strobel said the city should look at ways to bolster its sales tax revenues, in part because increased sales tax collections would reduce the city's reliance on property taxes. He also noted that both residents and visitors contribute to the city's coffers through sales tax collections.
   
Looking back and looking ahead
    2009 was a banner year for Dodge City, which broke ground on its long-awaited special events center and witnessed the opening of Kansas' first state-owned casino.
    Other projects are in the works, including a new water reclamation plant north of town and an extension of a bicycle/pedestrian trail in north Dodge.
    The city is also taking steps to revitalize the downtown district by participating in the Main Street program, which gives business owners access to resources for improving the area.
    Strobel said Dodge City has changed over the past several years, and most of those changes were good for the community. But he said the city can't afford to rest on its laurels or take a break.
    "The pieces of the puzzle are there on the table," he said. "They're all there. All we've got to do is put them together.
    "And that can be done through positive leadership and persistence and taking action when action is called for."

    Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.