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Waterpark fees to remain the same
Other city fees amended for the first time in decades
fee schedule discussion
Great Bend Building Inspector Logan Burns addresses the City Council Monday night during a work session over a new schedule outlining a revamped city fee structure. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

The Great Bend City Council Monday night took an in-depth look at its fee schedule, the list of fees it charges for things ranging from admission into the Wetlands Waterpark to licensing contractors to the cost of moving buildings.

The city’s executive team desires to implement an annual review of all fees that the city charges to ensure that they remain current and relevant. Currently, those fees are disbursed throughout the Code of Ordinances, obscuring them, and significantly hampering the team’s ability to adequately review them, City Administrator Kendal Francis said.

'Best practice is to compile all fees into a master fee schedule resolution, which allows for ease of review and adjustment,” he said. 

On Dec. 6, 2021, the council adopted an ordinance authorizing the city administration to create a master fee schedule. Council members were OK with the idea of the listing, but wanted to take a closer look at the individual fees. 

In its proposal, the administration had suggested a handful of fee adjustments, but the council didn’t want to approve them without examination.  Discussions continued on Dec. 20, at which time the work session was set.

Key among the council’s concerns was the admission to the waterpark, where fees have remained unchanged since 2005. The recommendation was to raise the single-day price by $1 and the pass price by $10.

Although the pool will still not make money, “our biggest concern is the ability to retain staff,” Francis said. The hike would help bump up wages at the pool.

Currently, the city transfers about $80,000 each year from the general fund to the pool. The increase would lessen this.

Based on last year’s attendance, the increase would have netted about $17,000. Numbers have been down at the pool over the past two years due to COVID-19, but the facility saw over 20,000 visitors in 2019.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene, though, was concerned about low-income families and the waterpark being a major source of entertainment. Besides, she said, there is no charge for the Brit Spaugh Zoo, which also loses money annually.

“It is a quality of life issue,” Francis said, agreeing with Biggs.

It was the consensus of the council to leave the charge the same. Since there will be an annual review, it can be examined again.

In a related matter, the city administration recommended charging $25 for zoo programs (when zoo staff visit area schools) for schools outside of Barton County. There will be no charge to schools within the county.

Other fees

The council was OK with a host of changes to fees charged for contractor licensing and certifications, rezoning and building permits. 

Building Inspector Logan Burns said many of these had not been adjusted since 1994, and he and city staff crafted a new method of calculating these.

They looked at 28 surrounding communities, balanced staff time spent on the work with the burden on those seeking permits, and the possible impact on economic development with higher fees potentially hampering growth.

It is a simplified system, he said. It does generate more revenue, but still doesn’t cover the total expenses to the city. 

In general, the fees will increase. But, there are a lot of variables, such as the type of licence sought and the size of the building being permitted.

“It does help regain some of that cost,” Burns said. But, “we’re not trying to make money here.”

“Everybody is getting their cut out there.” Mayor Cody Schmidt said. “It makes sense to me.”

The fee schedule

The proposed schedule outlines all fees, and with the exception of those discussed Monday night, there were no concerns. Some will remain the same and some will be increased.

All the fees will be reviewed every December.

Since the discussion came during a work session, no binding vote could be taken. Following the talks, a few more tweaks will be made, and the list will come before the council for vote at a later meeting.

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Held a work session to discuss the city’s fee schedule.

• Approved a new land lease with Watco Supply Chain.

Watco Supply Chain currently leases approximately 23.5 acres at the Industrial Park for the storage of wind turbine parts, City Administrator Kendal Francis said. The lease expires Jan. 31 and they desire to renew it. The lease rate/acre would remain the same, however, they want to reduce it to five acres and operate on a month-to-month basis. City Attorney Allen Glendenning has drafted a lease agreement with those terms. 

The lease rate will be $365 per month per acre.  

The company said the wind turbine industry is down a little now and it doesn’t need the space it once did. However, if things pick up, Watco may be back looking for an expansion.

• OKed a fire truck purchase.

At the May 17, 2021, council meeting, Marmie’s was awarded for the delivery of a Ram 5500 truck with a Knapheide bed for $78,864. Included in the bid package was a siren and lighting package provide by SERV’s in Andover and vehicle graphics by Mark’s Custom Design, and the delivery of the vehicle was projected for the last quarter in 2021, Fire Chief Luke McCormick said. 

But, Tom Klug with Marmie Motors contacted the Fire Department and advised them that Dodge has decided to not provide the government pricing on the RAM 5500. 

This meant the truck could not be ordered last spring. To order the truck now will cost the city $84,828, with the dealer covering what would have been paid by the government discount.

The truck will be ordered this week, and city officials hope a truck can be delivered and the price holds.

The purchase passed on a 4-3 vote.

• Heard a report from City Administrator Kendal Francis. He focused on the new Police Department-Municipal Court building, noting a guaranteed price has not been reached yet. He also spoke about this year being the 150th anniversary of Great Bend’s founding.

• Heard a report from Christina Hayes, community coordinator and Convention and Visitors Bureau director. She focused on the number of visitors who went through the annual Christmas Trail of Lights.

• Approved the Great Bend Fire Department township contracts. The city enters into contracts with the townships of Liberty, Buffalo, Great Bend and South Bend to provide the fire service on an annual basis. The new contract rate for the 2022 year includes a 4% increase over the 2021 contracts. The contracts run from Feb. 1 through Jan. 31, 2023. 

The townships and their contract amounts are: Liberty, $19,434; Buffalo, $30,145; Great Bend, $65,054; and South Bend, $24,571.

• Designated the Great Bend Tribune as the official city newspaper.

• Approved abatements for trash and refuse at: 409 Almond St., John R. Remmert; 1124 Frey St., Atanacio Resendiz; 1610 Odell St., WHB Inc.; 1435 21st, Bertha Alicia Bordier; 1618 Jefferson St., Max J. Hames; 320 Fruit St., Manual Tavarez; 318 Evergreen St., Helena Hernandez; 601 3rd St., Edel Ordonez; 1409 16th St., Richard Eubank; 1724 Hubbard St., Rodrigo Razo; 1 3 1 0 Morton St., Stueder Rentals LLC.; 1202 Morphy St., Billy Byington; and 1102 Morton St., Bobby L Roller.

• Approved abatements for motor vehicle nuisances at: 811 Madison St., Carmen G Grauerholz; and 409 3rd St., Francisco Fabela.