Carbondale City Council
Council discusses pool and sewer extension

Vickie Peek | Reporter

CARBONDALE — Carbondale City Clerk Sandy Schiffelbein informed the city council at the Jan. 17 meeting that the city’s grant application to Jones Trust for the city’s pool project had been denied.

Council member Daryl Makowski asked if Jones Trust had given any reasons for denial of the grant application.

Schiffelbein said the trust indicated that too much money was requested for the city’s size, and that more detail was needed to show how the city would pay for maintenance and operation of the pool.

Schiffelbein suggested resubmitting the request to Jones Trust and providing more information.

“The city never got a penny without a grant writer over the past 20 years,” former mayor Joyce Green said. The council discussed hiring a professional grant writer.

The council also considered other options for funding the new pool and how costs could be decreased.

Rick Entz, the city’s financial advisor, suggested the council obtain new bids because he has noticed a decrease in construction costs lately.

Entz provided financial details for 20-year revenue bonds to pay for the pool project. The one-percent sales tax approved by voters would provide approximately $80,000 per year, and the city would need an additional $50,000 a year to pay the principal payment on the revenue bonds, he said.

Council member Clint Vawter said the city might be able to get a $1 million bond without increasing the mill levy because sales taxes receipts are showing an increase in 2009 compared to 2008, adding there would also be additional sales tax receipts from Dollar General.

Further discussion about the pool was tabled to allow the city and the pool committee to obtain more information and consider the city’s options.

The council discussed the use of general obligation bonds for the sewer extension project.

“It is quite a bit of work for a small amount of money,” Schiffelbein said about the sewer extension project. She suggested that the city consider adding dredging of the lagoons to the general obligation bonds.

The cost to clean the lagoons was discussed by the council because the new bids were much higher than those obtained when lagoon dredging was considered in the past, possibly due to new Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

Entz presented projections comparing costs for 10-year to 20-year general obligation bonds. He used estimates from Kramer Engineering that combined the sewer extension project with dredging of the lagoons.

The 10-year bonds would cost $36,000 to $40,000 a year and the 20-year bonds would cost $26,000 to $27,000 a year, Entz said. He said that as the assessed valuation increased over the years, the amount of mill levy would go down.

“The 10-year bonds would be better than the 20-year bonds. The 20-year bonds have three times the interest,” Vawter said.

Entz said the bonds would have call features which allow the city to pay off the bonds earlier to get lower interest rates or to pay off the bonds with cash.

The city council discussed the use of special benefit districts in comparison with the general obligation bonds.

Larry Hinck, owner of Hinck Commercial subdivision, said that potential commercial buyers for his land always ask if there would be special benefit districts because they do not want to buy any commercial property with special benefit districts.

City attorney Sue DeVoe said that costs would be borne by the businesses within that special benefit district. She said these costs would be prohibitive to individual developments, and could keep businesses from establishing in Carbondale.

“We want to keep businesses coming in,” councilman Daryl Makowski said.

DeVoe added that general obligation bonds would spread costs out to the city at large. She believes that bonds would be more appropriate because businesses would bring increased sales tax receipts to the city, which would in turn lower the mill levy.

She further noted that dredging of the lagoons could not be paid for with money from a special benefit district.

When asked by Makowski when the lagoons would have to be cleaned in the future, Kevin Richardson, maintenance supervisor, said the east lagoons would need dredging within five years.

After lengthy discussion, a motion was approved to obtain 10-year general obligation bonds for the combined sewer extension and lagoon dredging projects.

Ben Kramer, of Kramer Engineering, P.A., presented a detailed list of the five bidders meeting the Feb. 16 bid deadline for the sewer extension project, which included a letter of recommendation for Emcon Inc.’s work.

The council awarded the sewer extension contract to Emcon Inc., of Berryton, the lowest of the five bidders. Emcon’s bid was $68,993.30. The State Bank of Carbondale and C&C Auto will pay a combined total of $5,405 to connect to the sewer extension, bringing the city’s cost for the sewer extension project down to $63,588.30.

In other business, the council:

• was addressed by former police officer Greg Wallace after the reading of the Feb. 2 meeting minutes. He asked if the meeting minutes should show why he was suspended.

City Attorney Sue DeVoe answered that the reason for suspension was not stated and the minutes as read are an accurate reflection of what occurred that night.

Wallace replied that the Kansas open records act says that the council has an obligation to explain to the citizens why the council took the action.

DeVoe responded that was not her interpretation of the act.

• heard a citizen complaint about the firing of police officer Shane Quigley and the lack of warning to Quigley. The council gave no comment to the complaint.

• approved the placement of three stop signs where David, Tucker and Center streets merge with First Street, as requested by Carbondale Police Chief Adam Marion.

• approved hiring Josh Reynolds for a maintenance position effective Feb. 18.

• approved a firework stand application for 2009.

• learned the city clerk will review the water rate study with John Haas and present the results at the next meeting.

• discussed possible monies available to the city from the federal stimulus package to provide street, sewer or other city improvements,

• approved a policy to pay former police officers if they are subpoenaed to appear in municipal and district courts.

• approved having Kramer Engineering determine what channeling needs to be done, get bids for guardrails and resubmit figures to the state to bring the Osage Street bridge into state compliance.

Carbondale retains employment attorneys

The Carbondale City Council held a special meeting Feb. 23 to discuss non-elected personnel matters. The council immediately went into executive session with city attorney Sue DeVoe.

When the council returned from the 16-minute executive session, a motion was approved to retain the Wichita office of national law firm Kutak Rock LLP to handle contractual personnel matters for the city. The focus of the law firm’s Wichita office is employment law and litigation.

The council also approved a motion to place a newspaper ad to hire a full-time police officer. The ad is expected to run March 5 and 12.