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New city fee schedule approved
Changes include higher Events Center charges
council swearing in 2023
Great Bend City Clerk/Finance Director Shawna Schafer administers the oath of office to newly elected City Council members Lindsey Krom-Craven of Ward 1, Kevyn Soupiset of Ward 2, and Davis A. Jimenez of Ward 3 during the council meeting Tuesday night. Not pictured is Brock R. McPherson of Ward 4 . - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Tuesday night:

• City Clerk/Finance Director administered the oath of office to newly elected council members. These included Lindsey Krom-Craven in Ward 1, Kevyn Soupiset in Ward 2, and Davis A. Jimenez in Ward 3. Not present was Brock R. McPherson in Ward 4.

• Selected Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene Biggs as council president. The council president is a serving council member elected by the members of the City Council to serve in the temporary absence of the mayor.

• Set a public hearing a public hearing for an unsafe structure at 214 Locust at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, at City Hall.

• Approved 2022 non-budgeted transfers totalling $1,483,676.47. These transfers also include monies received from donations and insurance proceeds, said City Clerk/Finance Director Shawna Schafer.

These break down as:

– General Fund –  $675,000

– Sewer/Water funds –  $350,000

– Transfers made from donations, grants, or insurance proceeds –  $458,676.47

 • Approved a Master Fee Schedule resolution. This new schedule includes the fees charged for city services and the use of city facilities.

• Approved the purchase of a 2023 Massey Ferguson tractor for flood control levee mowing. The 135 horsepower tractor comes  from Lang Diesel Inc. for $130,347.

• Approved a crack seal project change order.

Circle C Pavers indicated due to the crack sizes more material is needed than originally estimated for the crack seal project. There are approximately 70 blocks left to complete and this will finish up the project in preparation for next year’s chip and seal project. 

The change order is for $40,000. This will be funded through the 1/4 cent sales tax as we have had an increase in revenue in the past year than what was originally budgeted, said Public Works Director Jason Cauley.

• Held a 20-minute executive session to discuss matters of attorney-client privilege. Included were: the council, Mayor Cody Schmidt, Interim City Administrator Logan Burns and City Attorney Allen Glendenning.

They emerged and reconvened in open session and no action was taken.

• Heard a report from Interim City Administrator Logan Burns. He focused on projects underway in the city, such as the new Justice Center and quality of life initiatives funded by the recently approved sales tax.

• Approved abatements for trash and refuse violations at: 1615 16th St., Kenton Grauerholz; 1209 Holland St., Scott and Danielle Delgadillo; 621 3rd St., Mauro Solis; 208 Fruit St., Ismal and Amalia Campos; 2005 Holland St., Mauricia Lopez; 2903 Lakin Ave., TMS Rentals LLC.; 1201 Kiowa Rd., Jesus Araiza Riveria; 204 Chestnut St., Oscar Munoz and Musema Madrid; 21 2 Chestnut St., Sandra Bank Alarcon; and 318 Frey St., Pedro Alberto Ortega Flores. 

After discussing the matter for over a month, the Great Bend City Council Tuesday night approved a new Master Fee Schedule.

In 2021, the council approved the development of the schedule, which lists all fees charged by the city for services and use of facilities. It is to be reviewed and updated annually. 

The eight-page schedule includes the fees charged for such things as  beer manufacturing, visiting the Wetlands Water Park, using the airport, cemeteries charges, EMS runs, zoning, construction permits, and water and sewer charges.

However, the center will see the biggest revisions. It also brought about the most scrutiny by the council.

This is an issue that stretches back to late last year. At the Dec. 19 meeting, no action was taken as a council because members still had concerns regarding new use fees for the center. They wanted city staff to “go back to the drawing board” on the proposal.

Christina Hayes, community coordinator and Convention and Visitors Bureau director, had championed updating the center’s fees. The building is managed by the CVB.

She was back again Tuesday night.

“There are three options here,” she said.

• First was sticking with the status quo.

The city now charges $1,000 a day for the big ballroom, $750 for half of the room, $250 for the new back rooms and $100 for the front small room. In addition, there is a 10% catering fee (a percentage of the gross food and alcohol sales) and a refundable $500 key deposit.

Users also get one set-up and one clean-up day at no charge. Extra days cost $100.

However, the city has been losing money on the facility. The city administration at least would like it to break even, hence the new charges.

With the current fees, the center brought in $80,603.62 in 2022. Hayes noted that last year was a busy one.

Looking only at the booked events for 2023, the total roughly comes to $55,650.

The center is funded in two ways – room rental fees and 1% of the city’s transient guest tax.

• Second was Hayes’ original proposal which called for $1,500 a day for the big ballroom, $950 for half, $300 for the new back rooms and $150 for the front small room. There is still a catering fee, but that ranged from $50 to $750, depending on the size of the event.

Furthermore, the set-up and clean-up days will not be free, and will be billed at half the cost of the room used. There is still a $500 key deposit.

Using only the currently booked events and not including the catering fee, she roughly estimated the 2023 revenue at $129,600.

 However, council members have balked at the catering fee. 

• So, third, it was suggested the rental fees be $2,000 a day for the big ballroom, $1,350 for half, $400 for the new back rooms and $200 for the front small room.  There would be no catering fee.

The cost is the same for set-up and clean-up days, as is the key deposit.

In the end, the council approved the second option, but removed the catering fee.

Hayes said she has contracts as far ahead as 2025. These contract holders will have the option of sticking with the current fees or migrate their contract to the new schedule.

Originally part of the neighboring former Highland Hotel, the city has owned the center since 2011. Since then,  they have not raised the rates.

There was talk about how the facility pricing compared to other venues in Great Bend and surrounding communities. Even with the changes, it is below what many places are charging, city officials said.

 She said it will take two or three years with the new schedule to see if the alterations will push the center into the black.

events center fees again
The Great Bend City Council Tuesday night approved a new Master Fee Schedule. It includes such charges as those for use of the Events Center. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune