Council Hears Reports, Discusses Pole Damage Concerns at Monthly Meeting

By REX ZIMMERMAN

The Kiowa City Council faced a light agenda as it met for its regular monthly meeting on June 6. Members present were Bill Watson, Tom Wells, R.L. Simpson, Brian Hill and Russ Molz, along with Mayor Brandon Farney.

In opening action, council approved previous minutes and the agenda, and after discussion approved bills for payment including late additions.

Administrator’s Report

Lou Leone presented his report and noted that the city electric crew has switched out 32 poles in two months, compared to far fewer the previous year. Having a dedicated electric crew has been a big asset, he said.

Drainage problems have cropped up again throughout the city after the very wet spring, and the city is seeking input from a couple of engineering firms on long-term ways to correct the problems.

Application to the Kansas Corporation Commission for certification of the city’s electric grid has been filed and Mr. Leone said he anticipates completion by July.

Staff attended a state sponsored class in Hays on June 3 relating to the 2017 budget, and credit due the city from overcharges for electricity from KMEA have started to show up. The April overcharges appeared on the city’s June bill and the January through March overcharges are scheduled to appear on he July bill.

The Kiowa Swimming Pool is open and Mr. Leone thanked everyone who worked hard to make sure it was ready. A few leaks have appeared, but it is believed they are the result of old piping that has not been replaced in recent pool upgrades.

City staff is working with Fire Chief Bill Duvall and Asst. Chief Roger Robison on ways to improve the city’s insurance rating, which is now an ISO 6 rating. He felt that with just a little work, such as additional firefighter training and upgraded equipment, the city could get down to a Grade 5 rating. Each improvement in ISO rating also improves insurance premiums for both the city and its residents. The city administrator also said. The city administrator also said that he plans to apply for grants for obtaining new fire vehicles when the registration period begins in November.

An inspection at the Kiowa Senior Center has found areas that need improvement, including windows that leak throughout the building. John Terwort is doing an inspection to see what else is needed and Mr. Leone will report back to the council with the findings.

The recently purchased dump truck should be available to the city at the end of the month. It is located in Sioux City, IA. The skid loader that was also purchased won’t be available until late July or August, but Mr. Leone said he is hoping PrairieLand Partners can fine a loaner skid loader the city can use until the new one arrives.

The roadway on Commercial Street was also discussed and the city plans to use rock such as gypsum or limestone to help improve the driving surface. Nuisance property letters have also been sent out for such items as not mowing yards. Mr. Leone said that some property owners don’t live here which makes the situation more difficult.

In other action, council approved the city administrator to attend a grant writing in Wichita August 4 & 5 and the $650 tuition fee, plus other appropriate expenses.

Mr. Leone also said the city is reviewing different programs to provide better tracking of city inventory, work orders, and managing city assets. One program he is interested in so far would cost $3,800 for initial setup and $1,500 a year in fees.

He also discussed the need for updating city codes, updating the city’s website, a 20 year strategic plan, and an agreement to increase the lease money the city received from the cell tower on Ellis Field from $529 to $1,250 per year.

The city administrator also noted that mosquito spraying is continuing on the first and third Tuesday mornings in Kiowa. The city has also begun spraying on Thursdays in Hardtner, but is waiting on official word from the Hardtner City Council to see if they wish to continue the service.

Council Discusses Pole Damage

As the meeting moved to concerns from individual council members, Bill Watson brought up an issue from a couple of months ago involving a utility pole and related equipment that was damaged several months ago when the homeowner damaged the pole and equipment by running into it with a skid loader.

The homeowner quickly reported the incident to the city and crews worked during the weekend to replace the pole and restore power to those affected.

Council had determined at the time that the homeowner would not be charged for the damaged utility pole as it was marked as a pole already scheduled to be replaced in the near future.

Councilman Watson presented a copy of a current city resolution that stated what fees the city would charge for use of various equipment, manpower, and work on weekend and holidays. He felt the resolution was not being followed and that the homeowner probably should owe more than he was charged by the city.

“We didn’t follow procedure,” Mr. Watson said. “We have it on the books.” He also noted that

After more discussion, the city administrator said he will look a the resolution to see how it applies to the incident in question.

In another council item, Councilman Molz said he is still getting complaints on pit bulls being in town. He said there had been a dog attack recently on a child that was “mauled” and that there was no “grey area” for having a pit bull in the city.

Kiowa does allow pit bulls if they are caged according to regulations in place, and the owner has a $50,000 insurance policy covering the animal.

In final action, council held an executive session with no action taken.