By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of the story recapping the most recent meeting of the Liberal City Commission Tuesday evening and talks about all the projects approved Tuesday evening.
Along with the concerns from citizens regarding several issues Tuesday evening, the commission was also asked to approve parts of several projects, with the major projects involving improvements to water lines in the city and projects with city streets. Discussion of the water lines improvements took place in four parts, with the first part being an ordinance authorizing a loan agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. All four parts of this discussion were unanimously approved.
“These four items specifically deal with the public water supply improvements we’ve been working on,” Finance Director Chris Ford said. “Last summer, the commission approved submitting the loan application with the KDHE for several needed items to our water system, including the drilling of two water wells, line replacements around the city, and upgrades to our SCADA system.”
City staff recently received word of the application’s approval by KDHE in the amount of $2,712,419. According to Rosemary Saunders of Ransom Financial Consultants, LLC, the first principal on interest payment would be due Feb. 1, 2019.
“That allows time for the construction of those improvements to be made,” Saunders said. “As we move through construction, we will draw down the funds from KDHE, your engineer will put together a plan with specifications to be approved by KDHE before putting out bids on the project. And that 2.6 interest rate is locked in for the life of the loan, which is 20 years.”
The next part of the discussion on the water lines project included the approval of the loan agreement, which was unanimously approved with little discussion. After that, the commission discussed Resolution No. 2254, which concerned authorizing a revenue source for repaying the loan.
“This resolution deals with dedicating revenues which, as it is water system improvement, we would dedicate certain revenues to the repayment of this loan,” Ford said. “We would be required, if sufficient water revenues were not available, we would have to come up with the money to ... the mill levy would be a last resort, but that is not ... our fee structure was designed to incorporate these agreements. This is just a formality for KDHE that we’ll be able to repay the loan.”
The final part of discussion included an administrative services agreement with Ransom Financial Services, which would entail filing necessary reports and providing payroll, among other tasks.
“Up through tonight, my services had been provided through a grant to the city at no charge, and up through tonight, my services have been paid through KDHE,” Saunders said. “If you wish to continue using Ransom Financial Services, that is where that administrative agreement comes into play.”
Liberal Mayor Joe Denoyer also had some remarks.
“I believe we had a project where this did come into play, and some of the employees were not being paid fair market wages,” Denoyer said. “So I think this is important to have in place to make sure those doing the work are being paid.”
Another big item was projects for city streets, with the first part of this discussion regarding the mill and overlay project on 15th Street. The project, expected to finish up this year, will cost an estimated $950,000. The commission unanimously voted to approve that amount, which will come from the Streets, Drainage and Other Capital Improvements portion of the 1-cent sales tax.
“This is included in our Capital Improvement Plan, and we do have this plan in place to provide for an overall improved transit system,” Ford said. “In our current plan, improvements began in 2014 and will continue until 2021. This project will renew the street surface from where we left off at the intersection of 15th Street and Kansas Avenue, and it will continue westward through just past the Western Avenue intersection.”
Commissioner Jack Carlile then talked about some other projects needing attention.
“I understand 15th Street has some ruts in it, but 2nd Street is rough, really rough,” Carlile said. “When does the city plan on working on 2nd Street or 7th Street?”
Streets Supervisor Daniel Zuniga said those projects are on the list, but will take place later on, saying the projects get done according to urgency and the available funding.
The second part of this conversation included discussion of the Six Points reconfiguration project. There was a community meeting at the beginning of February to get an idea of potential further improvements to the area, and parts of that work are in the discussion phase.
“The city has already begun addressing some of the concerns that were brought up at that community meeting,” Ford said. “From that, staff recommends the radius of each turn be increased to accommodate the trucks going through there, and a deceleration lane be added.”
There has also been some lighting installed in the area, Ford added, and there will be other signs needed, which the city is currently working with the Kansas Department of Transportation on. There are also plans for improving Freeman Street and Cedar Street, along with plans for curbing and beautification to the abandoned sections at the intersection. After some discussion, the commission unanimously approved a motion to transfer $100,000 from the Streets, Drainage and Other Capital Improvements portion of the 1-cent sales tax to help with the work. Any money not used, Ford continued, will be returned to that part of the fund. There will be another community meeting regarding the project Thursday, March 2.
“This has been an ongoing project since 2004, and the scope of this project has changed dramatically, from the beginning to getting the Love’s Travel Plaza,” Denoyer said. “Four thousand trucks a week going through that travel plaza, and the possibility of seeing more parking there, all of that is being considered. But again, a lot of things have to come together.”
The final part of this conversation included discussion of the Educational Sales Tax infrastructure.
“This item has to do with the streets in conjunction with the new schools project,” Ford said. “As you know, the Educational Sales Tax revenues are to first be used by the city to pay the costs of constructing city infrastructure associated with this project, which will not be passed to the property taxpayers.”
The $3,771,381.94 bid from J&R Sand will be honored, Ford said, but the city has to have funding in place to accept it.
“If you’ll recall, back in December, we did have the first parts of the interlocal agreement we adopted,” Ford said. “That is to enable us to begin transferring money to the school’s bond trustee prior to the infrastructure being complete. We have received recent notification from the Attorney General the amendment to the interlocal agreement was approved. However, they’ve determined the official date of the agreement amendment will be at when it was approved and then filed. What staff is recommending is the commission accept the bid from J&R Sand for $3,771,381.94 as presented for Hickory, Warren, Walnut, Seward, Griffith, Charles, and Larry streets, and Cain Court, contingent upon the receipt of any necessary deficiency funds from USD 480 within 20 days of official written notification prior to the official award of the bid.”
Ford mentioned the approaching work season for J&R Sand, and said it would be a good idea to go ahead and get the motion approved as soon as possible. The motion to accept the bid was approved 4-0, with Carlile abstaining.
The commission also unanimously approved an amended Ordinance No. 4478, which establishes a Rural Housing Incentive District. To conclude the meeting, the commission also unanimously voted to reschedule the April 25 meeting to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, and unanimously approved the appointment of Carol Dearing to the Liberal Memorial Library Board.