City Discusses Building Needs, Updates Peddler’s Ordinance

By REX ZIMMERMAN

THE KIOWA City Council discussed building proposals and took care of several year end items at its regular meeting on December 11. Council members present were Bill Watson, R.L. Simpson, Brian Hill, Russ Molz and Tom Wells, along with Mayor Brandon Farney, who was conducting his final full meeting as mayor.

After approval of the agenda and previous minutes, council got a budget update as the end of the year nears. City administrator Lou Leone said that overall the city is under budget for the year, with the exception of the electric fund, which took a hit this year after the two severe wind storms and other issues.

That fund will be brought into compliance on Monday, Dec. 18, when council holds a special meeting for a public hearing on a budget amendment to increase funding for the electric department. The money will come from the city’s reserve fund, and any money not used will go back into that fund.

Building Options Discussed

Council next heard a presentation by Kirk Jurgensen and Michael Frimel from WDM Architects of Wichita, who had been asked by the city to present options on remodeling the present city building, remodeling another building for the city office, or building a new city office facility.

Options included remodeling the present City Hall at an estimated cost of $142,000-$210,000, or add an addition onto the City Hall at a cost of $213,150-$274,050.

The next option was to build a new City Hall on vacant downtown property at an estimated cost of $990,000-$1,350,000. The third option was to remodel the former John Deere building (now Thurman Harvesting) at an estimated cost of $1,872,635-$2,753,875, which would allow for the consolidation of all city functions in one building.

Mr. Jurgensen noted that the prices are a “worst case scenario” and the city could “tweak” the proposals as needed. Council noted that all of the remodeling work wouldn’t have to be done all at once. The building issue came to the forefront after an inspection of the city office building found a leaking roof that had led to mold problems and issues with insulation. The city roof has now been repaired to hopefully solve the leaking problem for the time being.

Council took the proposals under advisement.

Ordinances Passed

Council next passed Ordinance No. 447 which rezones a property in the northeast portion of town from half commercial and half residential to all residential. The propane business that had been located on the property is no longer there and the home is in the process of being purchased by a local resident, who requested the zoning change.

Council also passed Ordinance No. 448, which updates the Peddler Permit ordinance. The new ordinance extends background checks for peddler permits and makes other modifications. Non-profit and certain other groups will still be exempt from the ordinance. The permit forms can be downloaded from the city’s website. The entire ordinance is published elsewhere in this issue.

Public Sale of Property

City attorney Laurel McClellan informed council that a Sheriff’s Sale has been scheduled for January 11, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the County Courthouse in Medicine Lodge for the old bowling alley property. The city has a lien against the property for approx. $39,000 to cover expenses of tearing the building down a few years ago.

CMB Licenses Approved

Council voted to renew cereal malt beverage licenses for Dovie’s Bar, Homer’s Wine and Spirits, The Sideline and The Corner Stop. An application from the Plum Thickett Inn and Bar was expected to be acted on at the Dec. 18 special meeting.

Other Issues Discussed

Council was informed by the city administrator that the electric crew is putting insulation on bare wires at the top of transformers throughout the city in an effort to keep birds and squirrels from coming into contact with the wires and shorting out the transformers. The fix is just a few dollars per transformers and could help eliminate some of the power outages.

The city still needs 170 LMI (low to moderate income) surveys to be filled out and returned so the city can proceed with grant applications for replacing the water line from Hazelton to the city wells near Sharon. The first round of grants has already passed, with Councilman Wells noting that the city most likely lost $1.2 million in funding for the project because the surveys have not been returned by residents.

Mr. Leone said that there is still funding available in the next round of applications, and council is asking all residents to please help your community by filling out a survey. No names are associated with the surveys and they are completely confidential and used only for grant application purposes.

If you have questions or need a survey form or help filling it out, please contact the City Office. It only takes a couple of minutes but could make a big impact on the future of the city’s water system.

Councilman Simpson next brought up a proposal to do away with term limits for council and mayor positions. Many, if not most, small communities don’t have term limits due in part to the difficulty of finding qualified individuals to run for office. Presently, Kiowa limits council and mayor offices to just two consecutive terms. The city administrator said he will bring a draft term limit ordinance to council at a future meeting for further discussion.

Councilman Wells next suggested that council consider having more than one meeting a month as there are several issues he felt didn’t get enough discussion with just one meeting.

Council also voted to give employees the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and the day after New Year’s (Jan. 2) off with pay. The City Office will be closed those days.

In final action, council held two executive sessions for employee evaluations. After the first session, council voted to approve employee pay raises as proposed by the city administrator. After the second session, council voted to approved a pay increase for the city administrator as proposed by the mayor.