City balks at paying for water lines to new middle school
Tonganoxie City Council members on Monday waived one fee associated with construction projects in local schools, but balked at paying for installation of water lines to the new middle school.
On a unanimous vote, council members agreed to waive $10,890 in excise taxes associated with remodeling of the high school campus.
But later in the meeting, City Administrator Mike Yanez urged council members to ask the school district to pay for installation of two new 10-inch water lines at the middle school construction site. Yanez said one estimate -- provided by Meadows Construction, which already is working at the school site -- is the lines will cost $22,580.
"How'd we miss this?" council member Steve Gumm asked.
"I think the school missed it," said council member Ron Cranor.
The city and school had gone head-to-head earlier this year over other costs associated with construction of a water tower on school property that will serve the new middle school, as well as other customers in south Tonganoxie.
"We're taking the position that the school district should pay these costs," Yanez said.
Cranor agreed, making a motion to direct Yanez to write a letter to school officials saying the city doesn't want to pay for the lines.
"There's been a lot of concessions to the school district," Cranor said before the council's 5-0 vote on his motion to write the letter.
In other matters Monday, council members:
- Approved, 5-0, a Community Unit Plan for Timber Hill Farms, a 21-lot residential development on the west side of Smiley Road about a half-mile north of U.S. Highway 24-40. Greg Ward, the developer, had asked the city to approve the plan, which reduces several setbacks in the development. Yanez told council members that Ward still wants to build larger homes in the development. According to information Ward supplied to the city, the homes -- all with two bedrooms and two baths -- will range in size from 1,350 square feet to 1,670 square feet.
Ward said Monday that he plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 4 to mark the start of construction on Timber Hill Farms.
- Approved a cereal malt beverage license for Casey's General Store at its new location, Third Street and U.S. Highway 24-40.
- Tabled until the Nov. 14 council meeting action on a contract with a Lawrence firm, Lowenthal, Singleton, Webb & Wilson, for the city's annual financial audit. City council members asked staff members to determine why the fee for the audit was set at $6,900 for 2005. The city paid $5,000 in 2002; $5,250 in 2003; and $5,500 in 2004. Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator, said the city had been operating under a three-year contract during those years. Council members also decided to wait until next meeting to consider a mutual aid agreement with Leavenworth County. The city attorney will further review the document.
- Approved, on a 5-0 vote, an upgrade for the city's part-time utility billing clerk position to full time. City Yanez said the change was needed because of an increased work load that he attributed to more customers.
- Approved, on a 4-1 vote with Cranor opposed, an increase in city sewer rates, starting in January. The council's action also will alter how the city determines customers' bills. Council members had approved the change at its last regular meeting. The city's sewer rates are based on customers' water use. Under the new rates, the monthly minimum -- up to 1,000 gallons of water -- would increase from $7.06 to $11.80, and the charge for each additional 1,000 gallons would increase from $2.95 to $3.45. The city now will determine the average amount of water a customer uses in the winter and use that as the base for charges. Previously, the city had based the sewer charges on month-by-month water use, which increased substantially in the summer for local residents who water lawns and wash cars.
- Approved, on 4-1 vote with council member Velda Roberts opposed, a $50 a month increase for the pay of the city's animal control officer, who will earn $300 monthly starting in January. Roberts balked at the price the city pays in mileage to animal control officer Donald Wilson, who lives in Basehor. Wilson has served in the position since April 1981. Wilson provides his own vehicle, maintenance and insurance. The city pays him 48.5 cents a mile when he's called to Tonganoxie. Cranor disagreed with Roberts, who had said she thought the city should consider opening the job up to Tonganoxie residents. "I've known Mr. Wilson for some time," he said. "What he does is admirable. Most of us wouldn't do what he does." And Cranor said that finding a local person who is willing to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week would prove difficult.
- Set a special meeting for 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at the county courthouse in Leavenworth, where the county commission has set a meeting to discuss an upcoming study of the U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor between Tonganoxie and the Leavenworth-Wyandotte county line.