Traffic light could move to Main
The intersection of Main Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 could become more safe.
On Monday, the Tonganoxie City Council unanimously voted to amend a contract with BG Consultants, the city's engineering firm, to provide all the engineering work needed to relocate the stop light at Northstar Drive to Main Street. The move could help reduce the number of accidents at that intersection.
"By far it's the most dangerous intersection we have, statistically," said Fire Chief Dave Bennett during the meeting.
Brian Kingsley of BG Consultants said the $34,000 contract amendment would provide additional geometric design services required before the relocation. The previous contract for $48,650 was for engineering services for Main Street, Laming Road and the 12th Street intersections with U.S. 24-40. The improvements at those intersections would also look at installing left and right turning lanes.
The cost of the road improvements at the Main Street intersection is estimated at $620,675 with KDOT possibly paying for 67 percent of that cost. The city would have to pay for all of the engineering costs associated with the construction.
Kingsley said he wasn't sure when money would be available from KDOT for the construction, but he felt it was prudent to plan to move the stop light in order to be in compliance with the U.S. 24-40 corridor management study.
Mike Yanez, the city administrator, agreed.
"KDOT went ahead and gave us the go ahead to start this design work even though the corridor management study had not been approved," he said. "KDOT stands behind the project and said it was a number one priority for traffic safety in Tonganoxie."
Yanez said KDOT's opinion was that Main Street was the city's number one safety priority and 14th Street number two.
Backhoe back again
During the approval of the consent agenda, Paula Crook, council member, asked to discuss a check written to Dean Machinery for $79,028 for the purchase of a backhoe loader.
On Nov. 26, the council voted 41 to purchase a new backhoe from Dean Machinery for $57,028 with the understanding that $22,000 would be applied for trade in. Crook was the dissenting vote stating that the old backhoe was in good condition.
Butch Rodgers, the city superintendent, said that he was contacted by Meadows Construction about purchasing the backhoe. Rodgers said he spoke with representatives from Dean Machinery, and asked if it was OK to sell the backhoe to Meadows Construction. Dean Machinery agreed.
Rodgers also said he spoke with both council member Tom Putthoff and Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator, about the situation and got the go ahead from them. He was unable to reach Yanez because Yanez was either sick or on vacation at that time.
"To me it doesn't matter we still got the $22,000 we needed for the backhoe; that's what the council agreed upon," Rodgers said.
Crook was upset that Rodgers did not do what the council had voted to do and selling the backhoe privately looked like a backdoor deal.
"I believe this should have come back to the council for approval," Crook said "It shouldn't have been handled the way it was handled."
Crook was also concerned that the city could have gotten more money for the backhoe if it was put out for bid.
Rodgers disagreed with Crook.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were in the equipment business and you know all about the buying and selling of equipment," Rodgers said to Crook.
He said he was certain that Dean Machinery would not have given up the backhoe if they would have been able to sell it for more than $22,000.
"You've been here long enough, Butch, that you know that this kind of deal needs to come back to the council," Crook said.
"No I don't know that," Rodgers responded. "The city of Tonganoxie, since I've been here, has done things in so many different directions, so many different ways, you never know what the policy is. I do not have policy on how we buy and sell equipment. I just bring it to the council and that's as far as it goes."
Putthoff, who spoke with Rodgers about selling the equipment, came to his defense.
"I told Butch that I didn't see a problem with it," Putthoff said. "If they were going to offer $20,000 or $21,000 I would have said, 'no.'"
Ward suggested that they make a more comprehensive policy guiding the sale of surplus property and that the city council and city department heads become familiar with the policy to avoid problems like this in the future.
Vestal said that it was city policy to put the sale of equipment that cost more than $15,000 out for bid.
"We didn't go by our own policy, which we should do from now on. Where do we go from here? I don't know," Vestal said.
The council voted 4-1 to go into executive session for the purposes of discussing non-elected personnel with Yanez, Bard and City Attorney Mike Kelly. Putthoff dissented.
The council came back after 10 minutes. No action was taken. The council then unanimously voted to return to executive session for 10 minutes for the same purpose and with the same people. Crook wanted to include Rodgers, but Rodgers had already left.
When the council returned, no action was taken.
The council then unanimously voted to ratify the expenditure of the backhoe from $57,028 to $79,028, but apply the receipt from the sales to Meadows Construction.
During his agenda, Kelly asked the council if he should look into an old proposal he submitted for using services that would help the city eliminate surplus equipment.
He said the county has used the services and has had a dramatic change and have been getting better money for the property.
In other business the city council:
¢ Listened to a complaint form Roger Shilling about an open records request he had filed to obtain e-mails from Yanez to county officials about County Road 1. Shilling said there was a big difference in the amount of e-mails county officials presented him and the amount of e-mails he received from Yanez. Yanez said he would look into finding more e-mails for Shilling.
¢ Listened to a quarterly update from Steve Jack, executive director of the Leavenworth County Development Corporation.
Jack told the council about past and future events held by the LCDC. He also mentioned about the cover story the LCDC had in the Commercial Journal Kansas City magazine. He also advised the council of recent data from the annual economic development report. The data showed: the type of prospects that were looking to locate to the county; where the prospects came from; why the prospects chose not to come to the county; who the county's main competitors are; a breakdown of prospect activity by community; the acreage requested by the prospects; and the square footage required by the prospects.
¢ Unanimously pay $146,775 to Prosser Wilbert Construction Inc. for pay request number 6 for the Tonganoxie Pool.
¢ Voted 40 to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission to acquire and develop land on the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds for three new baseball fields. The agreement was contingent upon approval from the Tonganoxie School Board. Council member Tom Putthoff abstained from the vote.
¢ Tabled a request from Kansas Gas Service for a natural gas franchise.
¢ Unanimously voted to amend a loan agreement between the city and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to increase the amount of $357,313 for a new sludge press that will be used at the new Wastewater Treatment Plant. The new loan amount will be $4,167,392.
¢ Tabled a charter ordinance changing the residency requirements to be a member of the Tonganoxie Library Board.
¢ Unanimously voted to create the position of a lieutenant for the Tonganoxie City Fire Department.
Some of the essential functions of the lieutenant would be responsible for: operating fire pumps, hand tools and other fire department equipment; would work with the public in performing fire safety presentations; prepare and present reports, studies, training and research as requested; responsible for recruiting and training of subordinate and volunteer personnel; assign work orders to appropriate personnel among other duties. The position would also require three years volunteer or paid fire service experience with three years fire-ground experience among other requirements.
The council then unanimously voted to appoint Eric Lang to the new lieutenant position under recommendation for Dave Bennett, Tonganoxie fire chief.
"Eric has been with us for about five years," Bennett told the council. "He's a hard worker. He's done the education that we've required of him. Eric's involved in many aspects of our fire department. He's our only SCBA technician. He's certified to do that. That saves us thousands of dollars a year. He's very hard working and very dedicated and he's very dedicated to our department."
¢ Unanimously voted to pay $3,120 for Firehouse Software from ACS Government Solutions at the request of Bennett. Bennett said that the fire department currently uses different software for different tasks such as tracking maintenance records, training records and a smaller version of the Firehouse Software that records each fire call. Bennett said that the full version of Firehouse, would combine all of the different software into one program. He also mentioned that this software is exclusively used by every Fire Department in Leavenworth County.
¢ Unanimously voted to pay $5,899.50 for inspection services for a new sewer line that will be installed at the Urban Hess Business Park. The money will come as an engineering expense from the planning department.
¢ Unanimously voted to pay $20,600 for phase one and phase two for the Safe Routes to School Plan. This federally funded program provides reimbursements to government and school entities for developing infrastructure and non-infrastructure improvements that would encourage children to walk or bicycle to school more safely.
The money is for planning and engineering services that will map out problem areas in the city that make it less safe for students to get to school. The money will be used to conduct a survey and to have an open public meeting with parents and the city to discuss problem areas.
"The parents will tell us things that we may not even know," Bard said. "We may think it's not safe because there is not a sidewalk, but the parents might say it's not safe because there is a dog. It will be educational for all of us."
Bard said that she has spoken with both Tammie George, Tonganoxie Elementary School principal, and Jill Dickerson, Tonganoxie Middle School principal, about the program and the principals were interested in the program.
Bard said that the program is competitive and if the city is not awarded money, they will be able to reapply for the program without having to repay the engineering fees.
The program can pay up to $250,000 for improvements.
¢ Voted 4-0 to direct city staff to begin to bid for property valuation services for the future acquirement of easement along Fourth Street. Yanez said determining the fair market value of the property will make easement acquisition much easier and make the condemnation process easier if it comes to that. Council member Crook abstained from the vote.
¢ Spoke about the recent presentation from Bucher, Willis & Ratliff, the city's planning firm. Many in the council said that they would need more commitment from city entities such as local businesses if the revitalization of downtown was to succeed.
"If the city is going to put up the money, I would like to see more of the public get involved in this," Crook said.
Before any decisions on the downtown's future will be made, the city council will hear from the Kansas State University's Center for Engagement and Community Development. That proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26.