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City to hire consultant for water-related projects
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 In other business Monday night, the Great Bend City Council:

• Held a public hearing on the Neighborhood Revitalization Program Hold public hearing then adopted an ordinance establishing the Neighborhood Revitalization Program for one year.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program provides tax rebates for major remodeling and new construction related on both residential, commercial, and industrial structures in designated areas of the city. Certain areas are in a 10-year rebate area while the remaining properties in the City are in a five-year rebate area. They are an incentive to encourage improvements to real estate. 

The program has been in existence for several years. The rebates are for the improvements only and the tax revenues currently realized will increase as the rebates are reduced with the full taxes realized after the conclusion of the specified period. 

The city’s previous NRP expires this year after a three-year run. In the last three years, the program was used by nearly 100 home and business owners,

Types of projects have included garages, additions, patios, decks, shops, interior and exterior remodeling and new buildings. The cost of these ranged from a few thousand dollars to over $1 million.

• Approved closing Brit Spaugh Zoo all day on Saturday to allow for set up and prep for the 2015 Zoo Boo.

• Approved abatements at: 2108 29th St., accumulation of refuse, owned by Thomas Pearson; 408 Almond St., accumulation of refuse, owned by Doug Demitt; 1500 191h St., accumulation of refuse, owned by Ismael and Lidi Dominguez. 1203 (1205) Madison St., motor vehicle nuisance, owned by Dorsha Ratledge.

• Approved a garbage and refuse license for Unruh Brothers Waste LLC. of Great Bend. 

• Got a first glimpse of the city’s Snow Policy from Public Works Director Don Craig. The council will take action at the next council meeting. The policy is basically the same as last year’s.

• Heard a report from Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. She discussed the many activities scheduled for Explore Great Bend Month coming in November.

 At the Oct. 5 Great Bend City Council meeting, City Administrator Partington reported on various scenarios for making improvements to the city’s aging water line. Acting on a consensus of the council he developed a plan using a combination of reserves, fund transfers and the issue of new bonds.

However, Partington told the council Monday night that any decision on bonds at this point is putting the cart before the horse. He said it was suggested by the city’s financial advisor that the city first needed to hire a consulting engineer to arrive at cost estimates for the project.

“This will take a while,” Partington said. Once an engineer is selected, it will take about three months to have a proposal ready, thus putting the work off into next year.

The council then agreed with Partington that the council committee now charged with finding a new city engineer will shift its focus to sorting through applications from engineering firms. “This kind of trumps the other,” Partington said.

It was noted that with this extra time, the scope of the initiative may now be expanded. Instead of just water lines, it could included anything related to the water system, such as pumps,valves, fire hydrants, chlorinators and emergency generators.

Although there were no dollar amounts mentioned Monday night, at the previous meeting, Partington had arrived at a preliminary figure for two water line target areas, primarily in the downtown area.

Using a cost of $263 per foot (the cost for previous work along 10th Street), he estimated that cost for the primary area would be $2,239,205. Revenue in the amount of $181,139 has been set aside and an additional amount of $80,000 for the vacant assistant city administrator position that can be applied to the improvement costs. 

If the rest were financed by the issuance of general obligation bonds over a period of 10 years, the yearly payment is estimated to be $231,900 at current interest rates. If it were finance with bonds to be paid out over 15 years the yearly payment is estimated to be $164,140.

A 10 percent increase in water rates would generate approximately $180,000 per year, making the 15-year

financing option more appropriate. 

Partington is working with the city’s financial advisor, George K. Baum and Company of Denver, Colo., and it has been recommended that the city consider refinancing some other existing indebtedness to lower the interest rate and the yearly payments.