Utility Billing Dates to Change

New linemen Clay Nicholson, left, and Dusty Robinson.

New linemen Clay Nicholson, left, and Dusty Robinson.

By REX ZIMMERMAN

City of Kiowa electric customers will see a slight change in their billing dates as a result of action taken at Monday night’s monthly meeting of the Kiowa City Council.

Council passed Ordinance No. 427 which calls for utility bills to be out by the 15th of each month, with the due date set for the 25th of the month. Cutoff would be 10 days after the due date. City Clerk Marlo Rugg said basically the ordinance will just move everything back about two weeks.

The change was needed to better align the city with the billing cycle of KMEA’s billing cycle, which is the city’s new electric supplier.

City Administrator Lou Leone told council members that Western Farmers and KMEA have reached a verbal agreement regarding the Facility Maintenance Agreement, which will allow the city to shift providers to KMEA. The city is also working with EMG consultant Greg Wright on rates so the city can bill properly once the transition is made. Changes in the billing cycle will take effect this month.

Bills, Reports, Hirings

In opening action, council approved agenda and previous minutes, including a special meeting on Feb. 4 where two journeyman linemen were hired for the city’s electric department. Dusty Robinson and Clay Nicholson were on hand at Monday night’s meeting to meet council and the public.

In a related matter, Lou Leone said that the cities of Attica and Isabel have both been approached about forming an electric service pool to share equipment and employees. He noted that Attica, for instance, has the necessary equipment to set electric poles, while Kiowa now has the skilled technicians. The goal, he said, is to reduce the costs of maintaining three separate electric departments while providing customers first class service.

Council also approved expenditures and reports from the city superintendent, police department and Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission approved a carport for the residence at 9th and Chatham.

Police Chief Steven Johnson reported that two home burglaries have been reported recently in Kiowa, as well as several thefts outside the city limits. The city administrator also advised residents with WiFi internet service to be sure and have password protection to prevent someone from driving by and hooking up to your internet service.

Budget Year In Review

The city administrator next gave an end of year budget review which actually had some good news in it.

Mr. Leone said that the Sewer Fund, which received a budget amendment at the end of last year, will see a carry over of around $7,500 due expected expenses that did not occur. The Water Fund, which also had a budget amendment, also had less than expected expenses but still would have needed an amendment.

The Electric Fund was under spent last year by approximately $216,182 and the General Fund has a remaining budget authority of $54,878, but he added that all the amounts of the various budgets are subject completion of the audit later this month. Mr. Leone added that corrective action has been taken for the Water Fund to help keep it within the budget.

Administrator Items

Lou Leone told the council that he has identified seven city vehicles that can be removed from the city’s insurance and another that will be retired, saving the city around $2,300 per year.

He also received approval to attend the League of Kansas Municipalities budget class on March 11 in Pratt. Cost is $75 plus mileage.

Mr. Leone reported that staff has been reviewing plans to conduct irrigation out of the southern wastewater lagoon at select times of the year with the goal of reducing stress on the berms which will extend the life of the sewer ponds.

In final action, council voted to donate the Community Building for Project Prom on April 16th and approved expenses for City Attorney Laurel McClellan to attend the Rural Water District Meeting in March.

Councilman Russ Molz had questions about barking dogs and it was noted there is a city ordinance covering the issue. Councilman Tom Wells also asked if the city is prepared to have refugees come to town, feeling the issue should be brought up “just in case” it happens. Council also held a pair of executive sessions for employee evaluations and to discuss business which contains confidential data of second parties.