Other items of discussion and actions taken at the Ellinwood City Council meeting included:
Approval of resolution 11-14-17a Establishing a sewer reserve fund.
Approval of an ordinance 2017-9 establishing a fund for purchasing equipment.
Adoption of the updated cafeteria benefit plan for city staff. Ken Lebbin asked why the plan is only available for those over 21 years of age. All that could be determined was it was recommended in 2009. Since the deadline for changes already passed on Nov. 1, the council agreed to accept the plan as presented, with the caveat the age limitation will be looked into.
Approval of naming ordinance 2017-11, officially naming the approach to the Ellinwood airport NE 6th Road.
Approved the renewal of the contract between the City Attorney and the city with one change: quarterly payments were changed to monthly or bi-monthly
Approved the bid for the remodel, Lyle Brandt construction for remodeling the city office. Cost of the project will be $18,865.
ELLINWOOD — City Manager Chris Komarek had some good news to report about the bond issue the city passed recently that will fund needed street and ditch repairs, making the city less vulnerable to flooding when the spring rains return. But, he let Greg Vahrenberg of Piper Jaffray tell the whole story. Vahernberg was contacted by telephone and conferenced into the meeting. He shared how Ellinwood had fared earlier that morning when bids for the city’s bond issue were opened.
“The city got a good rate, and things went very well,” he said.
He recapped the decisions made by the council in pre-sale process leading up to the sale. It had been determined early on that having the bond rated would not be cost effective for the city. The notice of sale had been published as required, and a competitive sale for the bonds was conducted. Early on, it was anticipated the city should plan on an interest rate nearing the 3 percent range, and a term of between 13 and 15 years. Four bids were received ranging from 2.66 and 2.78 percent. The low bid came from Commerce Bank of Kansas City for 2.66 percent, to be repaid over 13 years. In addition, Commerce Bank offered to pay a premium to the city in order to win the bid. This, Vahrenberg said, could be used later to help pay down the bond.
Following the bids, accuracy had been verified and Vahrenberg recommended the council accept the bid. Council members accepted ordinance 2017-10 and approved resolution 11-14-17b, locking in the rate and setting a closing date of Nov. 30. Funds will be available on that date. The ordinance was the final and official step finalizing the bond issue.
Wolf Pond well
Komarek also had some bad news to deliver. Since the October meeting, the casing around the water well that feeds Wolf Pond collapsed, and the motor for the well burnt out, Komarek said.
That’s why the water level at the pond appears to be down two to three feet.
In order to maintain a constant water level, the Wolf Pond well would run off- and-on three to four hours a day. It’s done that since the early 1980s when Komarek first started working for the city. He recalled how when he began his career there, he had gone down in an old cellar and fought to prime the old centrifugal pump that once powered the well At that time, the casing for the well was 24-30 inches. He remembers the old cellar was torn out when that pump burned out, a new submersible pump was installed. At that time a 16-inch sleeve with gravel packed around it was inserted into the original casing. Further packing was not recommended.
He presented a quote from Rosencrantz-Bemis Water Well Co. for $9,857.92 to install a well with an 8-inch casing with a 5 hp submersible pump that is expected to work well, Komarek said. Before moving forward, he wanted the council’s approval. He noted its still a popular draw for families and kids, but earlier in the year, blue-green algae had caused the city to shut down the pond, and it was determined it could cost more than $60,000 to drain it, dredge it, and reline it with bentonite in order to prevent further growth of the algae. That cost was determined to be too much then, and the council made no indication their conclusion was any different now. Still, Gaila Demel spoke up that the pond is something the community needs to keep. The fishing derby was missed during the most recent After Harvest Festival, and Wolf Pond is an important feature of the city, she said. There was no disagreement from the other council members who approved the quote for the well replacement.
Komarek gave a brief departmental report, noting that over the next week, Christmas decorations will be going up around the city. While it isn’t likely the fantasy village will be completely installed by Thanksgiving, it will be up before the start of Christkindlmarket on Dec. 3.
Three power plant employees are attending the KMU power plant school. As a part of the school, 30 operators from around the state were expected to travel to Ellinwood Wednesday to train on equipment at the power plant. The EMS is having a record year, and staffing continues to be a struggle, he said. He encouraged anyone wanting to become certified in EMS to get in touch with EMS Director Brittney Glenn for details on how the city can help.
When asked about when the KDOT project end date was now predicted to be, Komarek said they are allowed to work until Feb. 15 according to the contract, and it looks like they will be working that long at this time. Part of the problem is striping that was not applied correctly.
“They are working with the striping company to get the striping straightened out from the stop light going east. Once they can get that striping done permanently, then they will open up everything from the stoplight going east,” he said. “Now, the target date for that is the week after Thanksgiving, around Dec. 1.”
That, he added, is if there is no snow on it, and it’s above 40 degrees. Demel noted that the weather has been in the 70s the last few days.
Friday is when workers will be pouring the center lane from Bismarck to Park Street. That’s a total of 600 yards.
“They can pour 100 yards an hour. They’re going to start bright and early Friday morning and try to pave the whole thing to Park Street.”