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City Housing dept. requests additional pickup PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 13:06


• Leader & Times

Several City of Liberal departments got the chance to be heard by the Liberal City Commission during the commission’s most recent meeting Tuesday evening. 

One of the departments coming before the commission was the city’s Housing Department later in the meeting. The department’s first request was the purchase of a pickup truck. 

“I had sent out requests from nine vendors in the area and I received four bids,” Housing Director Karen LaFreniere said. “We have two construction sites right now and only one pickup, so I think it would be good for staff to have that extra vehicle.”

“Is it pretty common to have two sites at the same time?” commissioner Justin Varnes asked. “What’s been the history as far as construction sites? Is that pretty common, is this a one-time thing?”

“It’s probably going to become more common,” LaFreniere said.

Funding for the vehicle was proposed to be coming out of the Housing And Community Development portion of the 1-cent sales tax, which Liberal Mayor Connie Seigrist said she felt uncomfortable with. 

“That totally violates the purpose of that sales tax to buy a vehicle,” Seigrist said. “That’s not part of the plan of the 1-cent sales tax. I’m not in favor of doing this if that’s where it’s going to be coming from.”

“Is there another fund this could come out of or is it something we would need to have in the 2019 budget?” Varnes asked. 

“If the commission wanted to pursue it, we do have an equipment reserve,” Finance Director Chris Ford replied.

Ultimately, the commission unanimously voted to table the purchase until the next meeting so more options could be explored as far as funding. The next Housing Department item regarded Self-Help Housing. 

“I’ve had a request from the USDA to apply for another Self-Help Housing grant, which would be fifth grant total,” LaFreniere said. “They’ve requested we do that. Before I get too far on that, I would like to get a concensus on if that’s something the commission would like to pursue. If we do, there would need to be a resolution at a later time. We have a lot of applicants and interest and haven’t run into too much trouble getting those groups together at this point. We’ve had a lot of support.”

The grant would cover another 18 Self-Help Housing homes, but concerns were raised about there not being a plan for where all those homes would go should the item be approved. Ultimately, the motion to approve the grant failed with Varnes and fellow commissioner Tony Martinez voting in favor and Seigrist, Vice Mayor Taylor Harden and commissioner Jack Carlile voting against. LaFreniere also gave a quick update on a Union Pacific grant that had been awarded several weeks ago. 

Also on the agenda for Tuesday evening was discussion of a 5-year Capital Improvement Program for the Liberal Airport. 

“You have before you this evening a 5-year Capital Improvement Program for the Liberal Airport that needs to be submitted to the FAA for funding consideration,” Airport Manager Debbie Giskie said. “A couple things have changed. For instance, the perimeter fence had been near the bottom of the list but at our last inspection with the FAA in January, a coyote ran across the runway, across the field, across the taxiway and underneath the fence at the golf course. They didn’t particularly like that, so that’s now been moved up the list. This is for consideration so I can submit this to the FAA and then they can respond. This will be 95 percent federal funding and 5 percent local funding.”

“I believe if airport land sale funds are available, we can utilize those,” Ford said when questioned about the local funding. “In the past, we’ve actually allocated matching funds out of the Economic Development portion of the 1-cent sales tax.”

Ultimately, the commission unanimously approved submitting this plan to the FAA before moving on to discussion about Arkalon Park projects, which include improvements to dams and roads near ponds in the park, reclamation of Windmill Pond (which was lost due to a dam bursting back in 2016) and removing and transporting crushed concrete from the airport’s drag strip area to the park. 

“There’s been a lot of work done, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Arkalon Board Member Justin Alexander said. “The dams especially are a concern for us especially since we already lost a dam with Windmill Pond and ponds two and three are about 6 to 12 inches of overflowing.”

“The two dams we’re trying to do, we’ve been told basically that if we don’t get those repairs done soon, we will probably lose those two dams within the next year,” Interim City Manager Calvin Burke added. “There was actually a hole in the top of one of them Mr. Hittle found while walking the dams. We’re in dire need of getting this work done out there.”

“And there’s a sort of concrete culvert that’s by pond three, I was told there’s actually water seeping through that culvert coming out of the ponds,” Alexander said. “If that’s not addressed, that pond two will be gone, which means so will pond three.”

Ultimately, the commission voted to spend funds not to exceed $20,000 for repairs at Arkalon Park to the aforementioned dams and will continue researching and discussing the other two items under the Arkalon Park work. In other business, the commission introduced new City Attorney Lynn Koehn, and unanimously approved Industrial Revenue Bonds for development in north Liberal, environmental abatements in several local mobile home parks, and approved $20,686 for Adolescent Support Services’ Teen Court and Truancy Programs. The Water Department, the Solid Waste Department and the I.T. Department also received approval for needed equipment. The commission also appointed Chris Carlile and Royce Kitts to the JCAPS Board and Pam Purvis and Reenie Jackson to the Arkalon Board. 




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