Archive for Wednesday, February 23, 2005

City seeking land to construct water lines

February 23, 2005

Tonganoxie is counting on the Board of Public Utilities of Kansas City, Kan., as the city's water source in the future.

At the moment, though, the city is trying to find land between Tonganoxie and just east of Basehor, on which it can build new water lines.

City superintendent Butch Rodgers announced Monday these plans for upcoming street improvements.

¢ Fourth Street -- complete rebuild from the east end of the downtown to the east city limits. Financing will be through bond money.

¢ Sandusky Road -- partial rebuild from Fourth Street improvement to east property line of Greystone subdivision. Financing will be through developer and county. City will provide labor and equipment to county paving portion.

¢ Streets listed for maintenance improvements -- Village, Front, Ridge, Ridge Circle, West Second, Evans, Pleasant and Delaware streets. Financing is through the special highway account budget for 2005.

¢ Laming Road -- maintenance from U.S. Highway 24-40 intersection to County Road 5 intersection. Project will be completed if funding is available through special highway maintenance budget.

At a city council work session Monday, city superintendent Butch Rodgers told council members that the city is having difficulty with the Kansas Department of Transportation in using KDOT right of way land near the U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 7 corridors.

Because both highways are becoming more traffic-heavy, and development is increasing, the state is looking at possible options for renovating the highways.

"They really want us to pursue acquiring easements," Rodgers said. "They don't care where, as long as its easements out of their right of way."

Rodgers later mentioned that the state didn't have an issue with the lines going through its right of way, but the city must have good reason.

City officials have told KDOT representatives that acquiring easements would be costly, but KDOT didn't view financial hardship as strong enough reason.

"If I didn't have any money, it would be a hardship," Rodgers said.

According to Rodgers, looking elsewhere might be the only option.

"If you put it out of their right of way, they're happy as a lark," Rodgers said.

During the session, the council and city officials discussed various topics, but the council could not take any action because a quorum was not present. Mayor Dave Taylor and members Ron Cranor and Velda Roberts were at the meeting, while fellow members Emmett Wetta, Steve Gumm and Kathy Graveman were absent. Others attending the meeting were Tonganoxie Fire Chief Dave Bennett, Tonganoxie Police Chief Ken Carpenter and incoming City Administrator Mike Yanez also attended the meeting to observe. Yanez will start work as Tonganoxie's city administrator on April 4.

Other topics of discussion were:

  • Wastewater treatment plant. Rodgers told the council that the sewer plant would be up and running soon. In the coming weeks, various start-up tests will be run with a target date of March 24 for project completion.

"We're pretty much on schedule," Rodgers said. "I think you're going to see it operational in the next month."

Rodgers said that in October, officials were hopeful the project would be completed in January, but weather pushed that date back a couple months.

  • Sundance Apart-ments. Cohen-Esrey, a Kansas City, Mo., development company, is planning to build a low-income retirement community in Stone Creek residential subdivision. Rodgers said the company has asked the city for a variance on a sewer and water ordinance that requires buildings to have sewer and water taps to each living unit. Developments with 13 or more units can have a single tap, with the council's approval. Cohen-Esrey is planning a 25-unit development.

If the governing body approved the measure, the city could lose more than $54,000 in revenue by not having the individual taps, according to Rodgers.

"I just wanted you to be aware of it," Rodgers said.

If the council approved the variance, Cohen-Esrey would be required to operate the development for 15 years.

Cranor asked what would happen if the development went "belly-up."

"Maybe we'd own an apartment complex, I don't know," Rodgers said with a chuckle.

  • City employee salaries and wages. An ongoing debate continued Monday regarding increases in salaries and wages involving cost-of-living percentages and merit wages.

The city's pay scale is used as a guideline in deciding pay increases each year, but Roberts said the city needed to hammer out a distinct policy. Cranor, meanwhile, was concerned about people sitting lower on the pay scale earning more competitive wages.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.