In other business Monday night, the Larned City Council:
• Heard a report from Junior City Council members Lauren Harding and Jane Pinkston who reported on the council’s visit to the Water And Sewer Department earlier in the day.
• Approved a request from the Street Department for a new John Deere 544K-II front end loader from Murphy Tractor and Equipment in Great Bend, at a cost of $138,048. Unless better financing can be found in the next 30 days, the city will enter a lease-purchase agreement with the dealer over five years, with an option to purchase the loader outright for $1 at the end of the term.
• Approved a bid from EBH of Great Bend for full-time construction observation and inspection services at $2,663.75 per week, for a total of 30-60 days, for Inspection services for the new lift station projects at 17th and Santa Fe. A construction inspector is required per the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
• Approved a bid for $21,123 from Wray Roofing, Newton, to replace the power plant roofing.
• Approved a bid for $4,150 from JIMLO Glass, Great Bend, to replace the door at the Larned fire department with a Manko Bronze 2450CG Series door with a 1450T frame.
• A date for the swimming pool committee to tour of the swimming pool will be determined and a date announced soon.
• Heard a report from Ralph Striet, electric production foreman
• Heard a report from Randy Parker, electric distribution foreman
LARNED — City council members resumed discussion Monday night with Pawnee County Humane Society concerning a request for $25,000 towards the salary of the shelter manager. After nearly an hour, it was agreed that while the organization needs an infusion of cash, it can do with less. What’s really needed is the assistance of more volunteers so board members can focus on fundraising, grant writing and raising awareness about the shelter. At the September meeting, the PCHS approached the city, noting that with reduced donations and increased costs for supplies and services, they faced a critical budget shortage. Since their request came a month after the 2018 budget was approved, the council tabled the discussion until it could be determined if and where from the city could come up with the money.
Council members also asked for the society’s profit and loss information for the past three years, and a detailed explanation about the duties of the manager. They also wanted an assessment of where efficiencies could be realized.
Upon looking at the information provided, council members Murray, Wilson, and Barnes had several additional questions for the board members.
Concerns over whether or not the shelter could remain a no-kill shelter were raised, and explanations of how the inmate worker program is supervised were voiced.
What emerged was a picture of a busy shelter, with animals requiring consistent care seven days a week, and a host of administrative duties handled by the shelter manager both on site and away. Inmate workers provide much of the physical labor, during the week, but volunteers handle the weekend and weekly evening chores. Many of those pitching in on a regular basis just to keep the shelter operational are board members. This, they said, leaves little time to outreach, plan and carry out fundraisers, or procure grants.
“We know what needs to be done to communicate our needs, but we have to prioritize our time,” one member said. “Animal care is the one volunteer task that can’t be put off for another day.”
Mayor William Nusser said some of the discrepancies noted in the financial information appeared to be a matter of differences in where certain expenses were recorded from year to year. He also noted line item expenses like depreciation could be ignored because the real issue was cash on hand.
In addition, Nusser said some expenses paid to the city, like utilities and rent, could be adjusted. With a few additional adjustments to fundraising, the amount needed to stay in the black began to shrink.
City Manager Bradley Eilts offered to assist board members with identifying and writing grants. With a plan beginning to develop, council members approved a motion from Murray to provide $500 a month for a period of six months, with a provision for the board to request more if needed.
In new business, the council considered applications for the Swimming Pool Advisory committee. Eilts proposed the formation of the committee at the September meeting in order to get input from the community concerning the need to assess what to do about the city pool, which is leaking and in need of several repairs.
Nine responses were received, with applicants from Larned and from outlying Pawnee County communities. They include: Erin Atteberry. Rev. Cameron J. Moore, Lynn Barger, June Barger, Russell Linderer, Josh Riedel, Wendy Leiker, Ronnell Kenyon, Patricia Schmidt.
Eilts was satisfied with the size of the committee, and all were approved by council. He shared his vision for how the committee will work with the council. Small groups, he said, will research and report their findings in a number of areas.
“Everyone would be busy, and it could be a very productive group,” he said.
Engaging with the community to determine needs and wants will also be a role of the committee.
“Through this process, we’ll learn what’s realistic and will meet our needs,” he said. “No matter the decision, it will be criticized with half the people thinking it’s way too much, and the other half thinking it’s not enough. In the end, we’ll come up with a realistic solution.”
Nusser asked applicants if they wished to share with the council why they wanted to be on the committee. Moore took the podium.
“In my almost two years living here in Larned, one of the things I’ve noticed is the community works well and pulls together for each other, but the one thing lacking is things for young people to do,” he said. “We can’t continue to lose things. My reason for joining was to make sure that we find the best way of keeping the amenities we have and adding to them. We have a great opportunity to not only fix but improve our image. Larned is a great place to live and we’re invested in our young people and our families, and we want to grow.”
Eilts will chair the committee, and will ask Lennie Herman to work with the committee also.