Prior to the Hoisington City Council meeting Monday night, council members arrived early to inspect and compare the merits of three different ambulances that the EMS Director Scott Fleming arranged to have available. They included one owned by the City of Hoisington, a 2013 Osage provided by Great Bend EMS, and a 2015 AEM. Fleming is also considering a model by Lifeline, but was unable to have one available Monday night for the inspection.
The city is expected to decide on the purchase of one new ambulance at the February meeting. Fleming and his staff will provide their recommendations. The city has already saved nearly $180,000 for the purchase, and plans to pay in cash, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said. The average price of a mid-range ambulance is expected to be in that price range, and Fleming expects bids to be within $10,00 to $15,000 of one another. In addition to price, size is another key consideration. A smaller chassis would ensure the new vehicle would fit into the existing ambulance bay at the firehouse.
Discussion then returned to needed changes to election practices for the City of Hoisington. At the Dec. 28 meeting, council members considered the possibility of changing from a ward system to an at-large system, or a combination of both.
Council members Sharon Smith, James Sekavec and Michael Aylward indicated feedback from their wards was in favor of keeping things the same, but the council liked the idea of a newspaper poll of the community to ensure all voters would have a chance to give feedback. The poll would be published in The Hoisington Dispatch, and responses turned into the city clerk. Council Member Karen Van Brummer will look into the possibility of the newspaper sampling the community so every voter could receive that issue. A decision will not be made until early February, Mitchell said. The decision will not affect the upcoming 2016 election, of which the filing deadline is Jan. 26.
City manager report
In his report to the council, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell provided update on several points. Dirt work is progressing on the HOI duplex builds, and the contractor will be ready to move into the next phase after Jan. 15. Progress on the new west-side lift station is on track, and that’s good because the old west-side lift station is starting to experience mechanical problems. An old pump needs to be resealed, air compressors have gone out and a makeshift solution is in place.
“We’re trying to limp through with what we have, but the contractor for the new station thinks he may finish ahead of schedule,” Mitchell said.
Work on Main Street that was scheduled to begin in January has been moved back by KDOT to April 20. This was cause for concern because the window to finish the work before Hoisington’s Labor Day parade was made shorter. When KDOT was contacted, Mitchell learned the setback was due to paperwork not being filed by the contract management company in a timely manner. Mitchell contacted the company, and was assured that the project will still be completed on time.
Old heating system addressed
The efficiency of the heating system at City Hall was called into question again recently when a representative from the gas company stopped in concerned there may be a leak, Mitchell said. It turned out there was no leak, instead, the system installed in 1936 is simply so inefficient, it was using an alarming amount of gas which prompted the visit. A few years ago, the city had looked into upgrading the system using local contractors, but those they contacted said the upgrades would require engineering and they could not help the city themselves. The project was put on the back burner, but now, Mitchell said, it’s time to look into the upgrade project again. He consulted with 360 Energy Partners, who gave an estimate of $150,000 to redo the heating system, including all rooftop units, all fees and engineering required. The price includes a 10 percent management fee for the company. Mitchell has also requested the company provide an estimate for air conditioning for the city auditorium, so the city would have one more venue available to hold community events. Funds have already been set aside, so the project would be paid for in cash, rather than through an efficiency bond. Mitchell will draw up a document to present to the council at a future meeting for their approval, he said.
Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
• Reviewed 2015 year-end transfers. Brian Wilborn inquired why no transfers were made into Electric and sewer. The city is anticipating expenses in the coming year due to important projects, so yearend transfers were not made into those accounts.
• The contract between the City of Hoisington and the current owner of The Office will officially be terminated, and the city will allow 90 days to vacate personal property from the structure. Mitchell has been in contact with other interested parties and will require immediate roof repairs as part of any future contract.
• The city has secured 12 iPads from USD 431, and will distribute them to council members soon. It is anticipated the switch to paperless meetings will take place in March, after city staff has had a chance to work with the new system and train council members. In the meantime, paper agendas will still be delivered.
• The numbers of stray cats has been down quite a bit in recent weeks, Mitchell reported, thanks to the efforts of Dolores Kipper, the city’s code enforcement officer. She is now focusing on blighted properties, and has sent out 20 nuisance letters in the past few weeks. Property owners receive one letter by regular mail and one by certified mail two weeks later if the problem has not been addressed. After that, the city may take action, Mitchell said. Council members indicated they were pleased with Kipper’s diligence in this area.
• Councilman Wilborn thanked Police Chief Kenton Doze and his department for their recent work in cleaning up blight of a different kind in the city. Over a 10-day period between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, the department executed search warrants resulting in the arrests of five adults for the possession and intent to distribute narcotics including marijuana and methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Recently, several arrests were made of individuals in possession of and intending to distribute drugs within 1,000 feet of a school. Mayor Clayton Williamson said he had been contacted by two other mayors with positive feedback about the actions taken.
The next regular meeting of the council will be Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.