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City OKs loan application for auto water meters
But, loan request doesn’t obligate the city
4-18-22 city council meeting
The Great Bend City Council discusses automated water meters during its meeting Monday night. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance:

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council  did Monday night:

The agenda includes:

• Held a public hearing for property at 205 Frey. After which, the property was deemed an unsafe and dangerous.

• Approved an ordinance granting a temporary premises extension for Dry Lake Brewing to allow them to utilize the city alley lot behind the brewery for its one-year anniversary May 14 and serve alcohol on public property.

• Opted not to act on the approval of a bike rack installation for Dry Lake Brewing and related changes in the ordinance regulating the operation and parking of bicycles and micro-mobility devices.

• Approved a rezoning request for Todd Anspaugh at 6003 10th St.

Anspaugh has purchased  the real estate. The structure was operated as a business and Anspaugh requested rezoning from C-2 (General Commercial) to R-1 (Single-Family) for him to move into the structure and permanently live there, Building Inspector Logan Burns said. 

A public hearing was held on March 28 before the  Planning Commission. There were two parties that attended with their concerns on property ownership, which Planning Commission agreed were beyond their scope and duties and would not effect the rezoning , Burns said.  

• Approved a rezoning request for David Tabrizi at 1801 Patton Rd.

• Approved a rezoning request for Carole Harris at 1809 at Patton Rd.

• Approved a rezoning request for Keller Real Estate at 1815 at Patton Rd.

• Approved a funding request from RSVP/VIA Director Linn Hogg for the Medical Transportation Program in the amount of $3,000.

• Approved Cinco De Mayo permissions. The event is set for Saturday, May 7, on the Courthouse Square.

• The expansion of Great Bend Alive Plaza on Forest Street.

• Approved an Events Center billboard update.

• Approved the expansion of a street chip seal project that was originally planned for 2021.

• Approved a bid from Venture Corporation for $1,079,640.50 for the mill and overlay of approximately 13 blocks of Broadway between Polk and Morton streets, as well as the reconstruction of the intersection at 19th and Harrison.

• Authorized Mayor Cody Schmidt to sign the Kansas Public Water Supply Loan Fund agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as part of the automated meter reading project for the city’s water system.

• Approved a request for unlicensed businesses to serve complimentary alcohol on their premises for the Art & Wine Walk event held on May 6. It runs from 4-7 p.m. 

• Heard a report from City Administrator Kendal Francis.

• Heard a report from Christina Hayes, community coordinator and Convention and Visitors Bureau director.

• Approved abatements for trash and refuse violations at: 806 Odell St., WHB Inc.; 812 Odell St., Laurencio and Rosa Poblano; 501 Odell St., Scott Thein; 313 Maple St., Christopher Madrid; and  

201 Chestnut St., Cecilia Obregon and Hector Lopez.

• Approved an abatement for a motor vehicle nuisance at 3137 Stone St., Elizabeth Hartshorn.


The Great Bend City Council Monday night authorized Mayor Cody Schmidt to sign the Kansas Public Water Supply Loan Fund agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as part of the automated meter reading project for the city’s water system.

But, “it’s never been decided if that’s something we’d move forward with,” City Administrator Kendal Francis said. “This just secures the funding should we decide to move forward.”

Last year, city council agreed to explore the installation of an automated meter reading system and approved an application for a $2.2 million loan from the KPWSLF to fund the venture. The application was approved in October 2021. 

“Since that time, we have been holding the paperwork awaiting finalization of other KDHE requirements which would then allow us to release  the project for competitive bids,” City Administrator Kendal Francis said. “With the extended delays, KDHE is requesting that we finalize the loan agreement to secure the needed funding.”

While this does authorize the loan, the city is only obligated if it withdraws funds, he said. “Essentially, it establishes a line of credit.”

The council already authorized the city’s on-call engineering firm Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita to draft bid specifications, Francis said. These are close to being completed so bids can be sought just in case the council wants to act on the improvements.

The idea is to improve long-running problems with timely and accurate meter readings.

Last June, the council granted permission to apply for a loan through the KDHE. 

This will be A 20-year, fixed-interest-rate loan with no penalty for pre-payment,” Francis said. As of this March, the interest rate would be 1.3%.

Staffing issues and aging infrastructure have made the timely and accurate reading of the city’s water meters an issue. A divided council last May authorized moving forward with a hearing on the project.

The original plan was to tap federal COVID-19 recovery stimulus American Rescue Plan funding to purchase the system. The city is e getting about $2 million; however, half of that money was promised to a Great Bend Economic Development effort to encourage downtown loft construction by helping pay for sprinkler system installation.

The ARPA funds were distributed in two allocations with the second one coming this spring. So, as a plan B, they were planning to apply for the loan to cover the full cost.

Automated meter reading systems record the usage and send the readings via radio waves to a collector and computer system mounted in a vehicle. Those are then downloaded into the city’s billing software, and the entire town could be read in less than one day.

Manually, by walking meter to meter, a worker must read one meter every three minutes to get every meter read in a billing cycle. The city runs four billing cycles.

Now, it takes about one week to read one cycle’s worth of meters and a second week for follow-up re-reads.