Archive for Wednesday, January 3, 2007

City council briefs: City mulling who pays for sidewalk

January 3, 2007

While the city council hasn't taken any official votes, it appears its members are prepared to ask Pleasant Street property owners to pay 25 percent of the cost of a new sidewalk.

At their meeting last week, a majority of council members said it made sense for the city to pick up about 75 percent of the cost of the sidewalk. Preliminary estimates place the cost of a five-foot sidewalk, several retaining walls and features to ensure the sidewalk is handicapped-accessible at $203,280. The sidewalk is planned for the east side of Pleasant Street, between Himpel Lumber and Washington Street. The amount property owners would be asked to pay hinges on their frontage on Pleasant.

In addition, council members said they're hopeful the Tonganoxie school district might be willing to contribute to the project. If the school district does contribute, council members said they believe that money should be applied to the city's portion of the cost. City Administrator Mike Yanez and council member Jim Truesdell planned to meet this week with school Superintendent Richard Erickson.

City officials also will meet with affected property owners before the project proceeds. At that meeting, the city would outline the scope of the project, as well as property owners' costs.

Council members are pushing for the sidewalk because it is likely it would be used by children walking to the new middle school, which is southeast of the intersection of Pleasant and Washington.

During the sidewalk discussion, Mayor Dave Taylor recused himself because of potential for conflict of interest. The mayor lives on Pleasant Street.

City workers given cost-of-living hike

Council members last week unanimously approved a 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment in pay for city employees. In addition, the council officially moved employees onto a new pay scale.

City Administrator Mike Yanez said with the COLA and the move to the new pay scale, most employees would see a total 5 percent pay hike.

"There will be no more raises requested for these personnel until next January," he told the council.

Tonganoxie company to construct trail

A local company will construct the new Chieftain Trail, which is planned along the east side of Main Street, between Fourth Street and Chieftain Park.

Meadows Construction submitted the low bid of $335,746, which was substantially less than the other six bids for the project. The next-highest bid was $454,163, from Mega Industries Corp. of North Kansas City, Mo. The other bids ranged from $475,943 to $564,750.

Because of the gap between the Meadows bid and the others, the city public works director and engineer discussed with Meadows officials, to ensure the company did not omit any items. City Administrator Mike Yanez said Meadows officials assured the city that the bid covered the entire project.

"I was very concerned that they forgot something," Butch Rodgers, public works director said. "I went out to talk with them and asked them some questions. ... They weren't concerned at all."

The city will pay 20 percent of the project costs, while the Kansas Transportation Department will finance the remainder.

Council rejects trip to Washington, D.C.

The council rejected a request, on a 3-1 vote, with council member Jason Ward opposed, to send two Tonganoxie representatives on a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., in early February.

Last year, City Administrator Mike Yanez and Ward traveled with other Leavenworth County representatives to Washington, where they met with members of Congress and their staff members. The group came away with a commitment for a $1 million contribution to an upgrade for County Road 1. That $1 million, however, now has been withdrawn because of changes in the makeup in Congress.

Work on the county road is a requirement before the Kansas Turnpike Authority proceeds with an interchange on the road.

But three city council members said they weren't interested in spending $4,000 for a similar trip this year. Council member Steve Gumm was absent.

"I have problems spending taxpayer money on this," Mayor Dave Taylor said.

Council member Velda Roberts said while she didn't want to send Tonganoxie representatives that she wanted the city to reiterate its support for the County Road 1 project and ask that information be passed on to federal officials.

"I think our letters of support will suffice to show support," she said.

In other matters last week, the council agreed to send a letter of support to the Federal Highway Administration in support of the so-called 32nd Street alignment for the South Lawrence Trafficway. The road would stretch between Iowa Street and Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence. Tonganoxie officials said they believe the highway is important to the regional road system. They had been asked to write the letter of support by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

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