Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
* The council approved the proposed year-end transfers for 2016. These transfers would be in addition to funds already spent.
* The council approved Ordinance 1526, pertaining to staff wages and salaries. The proposal incorporates a three percent negotiated raise. Council member Robert Bruce inquired about wages for volunteer firefighters. He was told the city currently budgets about $6,000 for the fire department, and the department has not asked for raises. Council member Aylward noted that the department’s only request is that the city provides them with good equipment.
* The council approved a third extension of the option to purchase with Roto-mix, extending the agreement to Nov. 24, 2018. Mitchell noted that a draft of the Environmental Use Control has been received and the company and the railroad have reviewed it. It was discovered that a portion of the land was not included, however, due to a previous option purchase agreement entered into in 1995. This is not anticipated to hold the process up, however, as the city will provide a long-term lease to the company for that piece of land.
* The consent agenda included the approval of Cereal Malt Beverage renewals from the Tap Room, Cerv’s, Town and Country Supermarket, Casey’s General Store, Cardinal Lanes and Mi Tierra.
* Jim Blackwell, CEO of Clara Barton Hospital, approached the city recently, expressing interest in bringing back the city’s nativity scene. They and Masons will partner on the project. The city located the scene, which had been in storage for some time. They plan to have the scene on display this year, and the hospital will take on the expense of refurbishing it after the holidays so it will be like new next year, Mitchell said. The last time the scene was on display, the baby Jesus was stolen. The city would appreciate any assistance in securing its return.
* The city is looking for a different collections agency to assist in recovering about $100,000 in bad debts.
* Striping on the newly completed Main Street project has been completed, and all retainers have been released.
Council will allow Mitchell to attend a regional meeting of the ICMA representing the State of Kansas in May. ICMA will pay all costs for airfare, room and board and registration for the three day conference.
* A construction company has indicated interest in The Office Tavern property owned by the city on Main Street.
* The HVAC project at the Municipal Complex is nearly completed.
HOISINGTON - When developers of Hoisington’s new Sonic Restaurant began construction earlier this month, it wasn’t long before they ran into an unexpected and expensive problem, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell explained at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Despite the fact that $19,000 was spent on consultations with an environmental engineer prior to construction, workers hit water after digging down less than 10 feet. This required mitigation to the tune of $100,000, he said, prompting a request to the city for assistance. Mitchell met with developers last week, and informed them that while the city would not be in a position to offer outright assistance, other businesses have been granted the option of levying an additional tax to customers over a period of years to help recoup development costs.
Called a commercial improvement district, the company could charge up to two percent on purchases, and could do so for up to 22 years, or until the cost of the project is recouped, whichever comes first, Mitchell said. The council, noting that other businesses including Casey’s General Store and Kindscher’s Mule Barn both benefit from a similar arrangement, noted they would be receptive to the request should a petition be submitted.
CDBG administrator hired
The council approved hiring North Central Regional Planning Commission as the administrator of the city’s CDBG grant proposal. It was one of four proposals received. At $27,000, it was not the least expensive bid, but Mitchell said it came the most highly recommended. The city’s previous attempt at securing a CDBG grant for a needed lagoon project failed when the previous administrator did not inform survey volunteers proper procedures to complete surveys. NCRPC will coach staff and volunteers ho how to do the survey properly, and will ensure the application process goes smoothly this time, Mitchell said.
Surveying will be done by some city staffers as well as temporary employees, who will be paid $10 an hour. Mitchell has reached out to students in the community urging them to look at the opportunity as a good one to earn some cash over the holiday break. Enough surveys need to be collected to show that 51 percent of the city population falls within the income guidelines for eligibility for the grant.
Proposed fire district looking positive
Mitchell reported talks with the City of Susank and five currently served townships on the proposed fire district are going well. In addition, another city and two additional townships adjacent to the service area have also indicated interest in joining the district should it be formed.
While he did not name the city or township, Mitchell indicated they are located north and west of Hoisington.
All the potential members understand the cost of equipment is going up, he shared, and felt a district would be the fairest way to distribute costs. A rough budget for the potential district would be funded with a 3 to 3.5 mill levy, depending on the number of members.
“If all goes well, Hoisington may not be budgeting for the fire department in 2018,” he said.
The next meeting of the Hoisington City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at the Hoisington Municipal Complex.