City Council Talks Electricity, Approves Christmas Certificates for Employees

By REX ZIMMERMAN

he Kiowa City Council approved Christmas gift certificates for employees, renewed service agreements, and took care of several other items of business at its December meeting Monday night.

Council members present were Tom Wells, R.L. Simpson, Russ Molz and Brian Hill, along with Mayor Brandon Farney.

Budget Amendments OK’d

In opening action, the council held a public hearing for the budget amendments published recently in The Kiowa News. The amended budgets in both the Water and Sewer Funds were necessary due to a large water main break last August and additional work at the city lagoons. The budget amendments increases the Water Fund by $59.015 and the Sewer Fund by $21,961.

There were no comments from the public, and council voted to approved the budget amendments as published.

KMEA Appointment

After approval of the previous and current agenda, bills for payment, and expenses for City Administrator Lou Leone for his recent attendance at the Kansas Assn. of City Manager’s conference, council took action in relation to the change of electricity suppliers at the first of the year.

Each member city of the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA) is required to appoint a representative to the board of directors, which review and vote on activities of KMEA, and in particular the EMP3 group Kiowa has joined to secure electricity beginning the first of the year.

Council voted to approved the city administrator as the first director, City Clerk Marlo Rugg as the second director, and Mayor Farney as the alternate director.

Council also voted to approved an amendment to the EMPS agreement, which strengthens portions of the original agreement and provides member cities with an “out” clause which can be activated after three years. Mayor Farney was authorized to sign the agreement.

In final action concerning the new electric supplier, council voted to give Mayor Farney authorization to sign Resolution 191, Amendment 20, which provides full membership status to the City of Kiowa as a member city within the EMPS group.

Service Agreements

Council next discussed service agreement contracts for Data Technologies and Sonic Equipment Company. Data Tech provides software licensing and support for the software used by the city for billing and report purposes. Cost of the service for 2016 is $4,549.07, an increase of $132.50 over the current year.

Sonic Equipment Company provides preventive maintenance and assistance to the movie theater. Cost for the renewal is $600, an increase of $240 over the current year. The city was on the company’s “silver plan” last year, which is no longer offered. The “gold plan” the city is being offered provides for one additional visit a year.

The movie theater building and equipment are owned by the city taxpayers while the business end of the theater is run by a private businessman.

Council voted to approved renewal of both service agreements.

Municipal Judge Salary Set

Council next voted to approved an ordinance which fixes the salary of the Municipal Judge at $300 per month, beginning with the month of November, 2015. Richard Befort was appointed as the new Municipal Judge last month following the resignation of Jon Von Achen.

Council also approved a change in Charter Ordinance No. 15 to Charter Ordinance No. 16, to keep the ordinances in proper sequence.

Christmas Considerations

Council voted again to give $50 gift cards to city employees to use at any local business. The cards would be for 13 volunteer firefighters, 10 city employees and the city treasurer.

Council also approved giving city employees the Thursday off before Christmas and New Year’s as a paid holiday, making for a four-day weekend holiday.

CMB Licenses Approved

In other yearly business, council voted to approve cereal malt beverage (CMB) licenses for The Sideline and Corner Stop.

Title Change

City administrator Lou Leone requested that the title of Gary Johnson be changed from “street superintendent” to “city superintendent” and to have the street, water, sewer, refuse and electric departments report to him first and then he will report to the city administrator. City departments currently report to Johnson anyway, but it was felt the title chance would improve the communication and accountability of each department. Council unanimously agreed and voted to approved the title change.

Final Notes

In final action, council voted to extend the consulting contract with Greg Wright from EMG for 2016 at a reduced rate of $425 per month, compared to $1,000 a month the city has been paying. The city would receive 4 hours of consulting a month, instead of the 10 hours a month in the previous contract, but it was felt that his expert advice would be helpful as the city fully implements its new electric provider over the next year. Council approved the mayor to sign the contract agreement.

In his administrator’s report, Mr. Leone reported on several meetings he has attended since taking over his new job, including meeting with county commissioners concerning the County Landfill hours. He said an agreement was reached to dump as usual as long as he notifies the landfill if he is running late.

He also reported on a meeting with Greg Wright concerning the new electric provider and also with Colin Whitely from Alfalfa Electric Cooperative, who assisted in clarifying the electric lines at the new Kiowa District Hospital, which would still be under AEC coverage. The city administrator said Mr. Whitely mentioned that AEC is open to working out an agreement to allow the hospital to join KMEA along with the rest of the city electric service.

Also discussed was the transmission line north from Burlington to the Kiowa substation, which the City of Kiowa paid to construct in the 1980’s then turned over the AEC for maintenance purposes. The city administrator will look for documentation of what the city actually paid for before further discussions with AEC on that transmission line.

Mr. Leone also said he was made aware that the city should receive a check from AEC for $7,600 in credits which were due Kiowa over the past couple of years.

Advertising is underway for a new electric lineman for the city, but in the meantime Mr. Leone said he has opened discussions with the City of Anthony to provide services on a part-time basis until a new lineman is hired and up to speed. It was reported that two applications have already been received and it was hoped that interviews could begin the first week in January.

Police Chief Steven Johnson also informed council that his department will conduct an “active shooter” class on December 21 at the high school. With all the happenings in the world today, he said it was “better to be prepared than not.” In addition to Kiowa officers, also invited are the Barber County Sheriff’s Dept., Medicine Lodge Police Dept. and the police chief from Attica – all the departments that would most likely respond in the event of a real situation.