July 28, 2014

Electric Utility Board considers sale of gas line

Amy Cunningham
acunningham@gardnernews.com

Gardner’s Electric Utility Board members took a brief break at the start of their meeting to witness fellow board member Ryan Beasley and new appointee Mark Baldwin’s swearing in during the city council meeting Tuesday evening.

Member Eric Schultz who, like Beasley, has also been reappointed to the board, was away on business and unable to attend the ceremony.

Beasley has been a member of the board since its inception two years ago, but, according to Mayor Dave Drovetta, when the board was created, officials decided to stagger the terms of appointees.  From here on out appointees will serve four years before seeking reappointment.  Baldwin, Beasley and Schultz will serve on the board until February of 2015.

New member Mark Baldwin has been a resident of Gardner since 2003.  Drovetta said that Baldwin interviewed for a position on the board when a seat was vacated by Brian Broxterman, who left when he was appointed to the city council last spring.  Shultz received Broxterman’s seat and fulfilled the remainder of his term.  Drovetta called Baldwin a highly regarded candidate and felt he was a natural addition for the opening created by the retirement of Vernon Pickert.

The mayor also acknowledged the departure of Pickert from the board at the expiration of his term in February.

“Vern Pickert is retiring yet again from public service,” the mayor noted.  Pickert, a well-respected, long-time resident, has served on the city council as well as numerous boards and committees in the Gardner community.

“We thank you very much, again, for that service,” the mayor said with a smile as audience members applauded Pickert’s years of devotion to the city.

Following the ceremony, utility board members gathered again to conduct their regularly scheduled meeting. The city’s electric director Bill Krawczyk recommended that the board entertain the idea of selling a gas line located at 183rd Street and Cedar Niles Road.

He said the city has faced substantial costs imposed by the Kansas Corporation Commission when the line was found to be out of compliance.

“The city has spent $20,000 to $25,000 getting (into compliance),” Krawczyk said.  “…We still have another $75,000 in compliance costs, we estimate, between now and the end of this year.”

According to Krawczyk, Kansas Gas already made one offer on the line.  That offer was rejected because it didn’t meet the requirements of the city.

However the company has put together a stronger offer, which Krawczyk recommended the board consider at a future meeting. He said that Kansas Gas has offered $40,000 to the city to purchase the line.  Along with that purchase price, the company will  require the city to pay $27,000 per year for the next 10 years to Kansas Gas in transmission fees.

Krawczyk said there are several intangible costs that the board must consider when deciding whether or not to sell the line; Staffing, maintenance, and testing costs that currently total about $7,500 per year, and the city’s liability should something go wrong with the line will need to  be factored into the decision.

In other business:
• The group discussed filling three open positions at the utility including two lineman apprentice jobs and one journeyman job in the coming weeks.

• The board addressed the city’s participation in the Take Charge Challenge, an energy efficiency challenge that pits Gardner against three other northeastern Kansas towns.

• Krawczyk said that preliminary results show that the department came in significantly under budget in 2010.  He said that final utility receipts for 2010 were not yet due into the city and that final numbers will be available in the coming weeks.

• In the future the group will consider adding educational information to utility bills to educate the public on how the utility works and to promote items of interest to customers.

• The board may consider installing hard power to be used by the Festival on the Trails.

Comments

  1. GardnerPride says:

    Does the sell of the line really make sense. I certainly don’t understand the overall picture, but factoring in the additional $75K in repair, paired with $7500 per year in annual maintenance costs, our ten year expense would be estimated at approximately $150K. Compare that to 10 years of payments to KS Gas, minus the $40K purchase price and the total comes to $230K. That is a huge difference in cost, and we would have to experience a immense benefit to justify that difference. At first glance, I don’t see that benefit.

  2. GardnerPride says:

    What happens to the transmission fee after 10 years?

  3. Good points Pride, that is significant cost and the cost/benefit doesn’t seem apparent.

  4. Sounds like a benefit analysis report that Kutak Rock sells to cities all the time to get the big boys what they want such as the sweet IRB/Pay-In-Lieu agreements, especially when they submit the papers allowing a 25% pay-in-lieu agreement when it should be a 50% pay-in-lieu agreement and no government entity catching the error – rubber stamp government is what you are living with. And what do you see – your city, county and state government entities RUBBER STAMPING these reports, analysis, etc. while providing no protection for the citizens who are always the ones to pay the price to keep the special interests’ bank accounts growing, growing, growing, growing while the middle class is thrown into poverty. You sure didn’t see Kimberly-Clark picking up the phone for three years advising the Treasurer’s Office they weren’t being billed correctly on their taxes.

    The people better start taking care of business or business is going to put them in the poor house.

  5. Add this rubber stamp government to the corrupt government you already have here in Gardner since the city staff, the Mayor and the Council all thumb their nose at people within the government respecting the law, such as in Beasley’s case, and you have big trouble in your city – that is my opinion – when you start going along with breaking the law, then there is not much hope for your community.

  6. Gardner Energy doesn’t do gas, they provide electricity. This line is a liability to the city. There is training and compliance that need to take place. If you’re looking at cost you’ll need to look at the labor cost of the employees to try to get this thing under control. If we can’t get into compliance then you have to take into account some major fines as well. Who knows what it could entail in the future, because we don’t know.

    You can’t always take your pencil and calculator out and put a price on everything and have it make sense.

    Like I said we don’t do gas lines. You may have seen the explosion of the gas line in PA a couple of days ago. Here’s a link.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704590704576091841575394536.html?mod=WSJ_topics_obama

    Also remember the major explosion in San Francisco about six months ago.

    That line runs from I-35 to the Energy Center. There are quite a few companies between those two points. If there is a gas leak who’s going to take care of it? Just something to think about.

  7. As far as the transmission fee it would go away after the 10 years and we’d only be charged for what we use. If we don’t have to turn the gas on to run the turbines then there is no cost. Remember as of Tuesday I don’t believe we had anything in writing about selling the line, this is all talk.

  8. Citizens might want to consider the article found under http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/business/economy/21bankruptcy.html?_r=1&hpw. I continue to bring attention to the corrupt Gardner city’s huge indebtedness which so many do not want to be held accountable for and the spending like there is no tomorrow. Well, tomorrow is here and you might be digging for potatoes to put food on the table. I bring this information to make you aware – the choices you make are your own with respect to the running of your governments, who you vote for, whether you will condone and support the law breakers, whether you want to continue to go into debt when you cannot afford the debt and a whole lot of important issues and nothing more important to me than the moral decay of society that you are seeing at so many levels. You have people who are morally corrupt in all avenues of your life now – are you going to join them or are you going to make a differnece and choose to not be a part of mess?

  9. Any chance you could install a relevance meter on the comments?

  10. There are those who cannot even identify relevance and never will.

  11. Vernon, Ca. perhaps is Drovetta’s dream city as long as he would be one of the few city officials to live there – they have their own power company too…….and they love those high-powered attorneys……….

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-vernon-lawyers-20110110,0,3257302.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fmostviewed+%28L.A.+Times+-+Most+Viewed+Stories%29

  12. I may be off topic a touch here, but I have to ask … why would the City ever need to have two meetings on the same night? There are five business days each week and at least four full weeks each month, it seems to me there is not a good reason for there to be meetings of any combination of Council, Board, or Commission on the same night.

  13. I have often felt it was not good for the School Board and the city to have meetings on the same night. But hey, I have been asking for months and years for government entities to videotape ALL of their meetings and archive them on their website so the citizens may watch them at their convenience and which would keep them more informed as to how their government entities operate – they sure don’t get full information from just reading the city council or school board meeting minutes. I think they would have been saddened and disgusted, as I was, last Tuesday evening to watch when the full City Council voted to re-appoint a law breaker to a position with the city. That told me I have a corrupt city government – any city administration staff person and/or elected official who turns their head from someone who is openly thumbing their nose at the law, are not people who will bring me a law-abiding city government – the trust was broken as much as it ever could be broken with that vote on that one appointment – that is my opinion.

    So, Chris, I say there are many huge problems to address. And you have to ask yourself why the city continues to NOT want ALL of those meetings videotaped and I don’t think lack of dollars is the true reason. I can only hope, Chris, that if you get elected into office you will see that communication is improved between the city and its citizens by videotaping of meetings but I again will say, this morally corrupt city government that it appears we have is our biggest problem and not even videotaping will take care of that but it could sure bring to you in living color what the Sam Hill is going on at City Hall – the rest is up to the people and whether they want to do their job.

  14. As it turns out Judith, I was at the City Council work session where the subject of videotaping Council meetings was addressed. I can say that Councilmembers Harrison and Broxterman were strong advocates for finding a way to accomplish this, whether through video recording, livestreaming, or at least podcasting the Council meetings. I say the City Staff and Council shouldn’t rest until they find a way to make this happen in a fiscally responsible manner.

  15. Well, it is too bad Harrison and Broxterman couldn’t have found their moral values last Tues. evening before voting to re-appoint a law breaker as a part of our city government. As I have stated before, it is my opinion we now have a corrupt city government since those involved in our city government are condoning and supporting law breakers within our government. This videotaping of meetings is small potatoes to this issue of respect for our laws and the following of laws.

  16. While we speak of city government, you may be interested in this article about Victorville, Ca. BNSF came to Victorville with intermodal plans around 2005, about the time they came to Gardner, and Victorville is still being placed on hold by BNSF after Victorville invested several million dollars for the project. Victorville is now in deep financial trouble. I talked to Victorville city officials just last week and they advise me the City is only open 4 days a week due to financial problems

    Here is an article teling you of the financial woes of Victorville and tells you what can happen when you are offering the thieves TIFs and how you can get stuck holding the bag especially in a bad economy when property values are going down just as we are seeing here and sales tax revenues take a dive. Ole Drovetta and Fairburn and that Edgerton Council will always sell you the “good deal” but never will be forthcoming about the risk exposures and what debt can do to a community. You might want to do a little independent thinking rather than eating and drinking the propaganda and rhetoric that is constantly being dished out for you.

    http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/watch-25533-downgraded-negative.html

  17. City of Gardner had money problems this past year and I am sure they will have more this year. What did the city do in the past year to take care of these problems. Here are a few things:

    1. Raised your mill levy 6.513 mills, the biggest mill levy in the past 10 years or perhaps in the history of Gardner. They said they couldn’t cut costs any more, so you get your increase in property taxes.

    2. Allowed your fire protection to be moved to the Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1. This will result, I feel sure, in a higher fire protection cost to a citizen when they are fully under that Fire Dist.’s taxing entity in about 2014. The city got rid of around 6 to 8 employees this way and hopefully got enough to pay for the debt on the fire station on 183rd St. and the aerial fire truck that were both purchased for BNSF and the Allen Group but which your city will never admit to. They are lowering their employee costs and debt but in the long run this measure will CREATE A HIGHER FIRE PROTECTION COST TO YOU when you consider the fire protection costs you will be paying in the future – your costs won’t be limited to just the city of Gardner. And yet they still didn’t have enough money and raised the mill levy.

    3. More debt with the re-work of Moonlight Rd. that will take years to pay for which will include interest on the debt. Did your city look to a driveway tax on this project to lessen the burden on the average citizen – Drovetta would rather slit his wrists that do that. I can see very little effort in reducing the overall debt but only more debt coming on line.

    4. You have a city that has no problem whatsoever having a person within their government who is thumbing his nose at the law and has evidently no plans to meet the requirements of the law – what will that bring you??? Why are they going to all of the time and money to bring about new ordinances, regulations, etc. when they don’t have any respect for the laws we already have?

    5. Remember, how Victorville had to hit their reserves to pay the bills and what happened to the bond ratings as shown in the article I previously gave you. Well, Drovetta made it plain he didn’t want to touch those reserves which was another reason you got hit with that mill levy increase. Why did he not want to lower reserves – because he has every intention of borrowing MORE MONEY in the future which we can hardly afford but he needs that good bond rating in order to borrow more. And is he borrowing more money for the average citizen or is it money wanted and needed by the special interests?

    You have an election coming up here within weeks. You might want to think about who you will be voting for. Do you want to put your vote with another Jr. High individual who spits his eye at the law? Are the candidates going to protect your interests and are they going to have some moral values who believe in the integrity of the law and will they have the time and wherewithal to do the research necessary to properly protect you? You only have two more days to get more candidates filed if you think you need them.

  18. Frustration is hardly a strong enough word to use when you fight for the people and try to protect their interests regardless of what government entity is involved……..I am certainly aware of controlling votes used by the city of Gardner time and time again for years now………and, of course, I am not pleased when my school district wants to charge me up to $150 to answer ONE QUESTION about our school system and gets by with it……….read the following about a concerned citizen and his frustration……..

    Frustrating experience

    Sitting on the Hesperia Unified School District governing board for the past 19 months has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my entire life. I ran because I wanted to open HUSD operations up to public scrutiny and proactively engage and incorporate parents into the educational processes of their children. I now realize how naïve I was.

    The controlling faction of the board has no interest in serving the kids of this district. They have never had the interests of HUSD kids even on their list, let alone on top of their list where they belong. Their long and tumultuous history of actions clearly demonstrates this to be true.

    I am certainly not proud of my behavior on the HUSD board of late, but stopping these control freaks who seek to destroy this district is a very difficult task when they control it all. I stopped their creation of a very expensive and unnecessary administrative position last meeting, but they will bring it back. I could not let them do it in the wee hours of the morning, out of the public’s scrutiny. Just like the myriad of harmful things they do in closed session, out of the public’s review.

    I will continue to stop the unreasonable and unsupported actions of Robert Kirk, Hardy Black, and Anthony Riley with any tool at my disposal, just as they use the very powerful one that is available to them — their single voting block of power utilized regardless of the professional advice that is provided to them.

    I long for Nov. 2, and pray that the voters of this community will seek to bring reasonable voices and consideration to this governing board.

    Chris Bentley

    Hesperia

  19. BNSF could soon also be your big brother………..it is never a good thing to speed nor drive drunk……….

    *******************************************************

    Dear Traffic Tuner,
    While driving home late at night on the northbound Interstate 15 freeway, I exited at the D Street off-ramp. I was red lighted and pulled over by BNSF Railroad police. I had seen him on the freeway about four miles back, but because he was railroad police, I did not adjust my speed. (Yes, I was speeding.) I was shocked that he had police powers to initiate a traffic stop for speeding on the freeway, and have since not been able to see if this was legit or not… He did initiate the traffic stop close to the railroad tracks on D Street, but told me he clocked me back at Bear Valley Road, about four miles away.

    What are BNSF police powers and when can they initiate a traffic stop?

    Dear Reader,
    Police with the BNSF Railroad do have full police powers for any violations that happen in their presence, according to BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent, whether any railroad tracks are nearby or not.

    Kent said that all of the rail company’s officers go through full police academy, and many have spent time as city cops before taking jobs with BNSF.

    Aside from dealing with speedsters and rail-related crimes, Kent said local officers have stopped several drunk drivers recently and then turned them over to highway patrol for processing.

  20. Care for some diesel………..

    **********************************

    http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/barstow-5838-investigation-cleanup.html

  21. I don’t get it Judith, You are upset with the City raising the Mill Levy, and then you bash the cost saving measures like consolidating Fire Service by spouting fact-less assertions that it is going to cost us. And while Drovetta didn’t use enough reserves, they did use reserves to help the budget.

    And you’re teetering on the insane and libelous when you say that Ryan Beasley or any of us in the Recall Committee have broken any law. He is not a public official nor am I or Chuck Clark so tread careful. The facts remain that we met compliance with the law as described to us by the Election Office so take it up with the State if you have problems.

  22. In my opinion and as you will see here in a few years, it will not be a cost saving measure to convert to Jo. Co. Fire Dist. No. 1 for fire protection for citizens of Gardner, Ks. It is my understanding we were utlizing around 8.50 mills to provide fire protection for the citizens in Gardner – right now the mill levy for Fire Dist. No. 1 is 11.0420 which is considerably higher and you haven’t even seen their increases in costs they will have when they start servicing the intermodal and the warehouses that will be within their fire district and that the citizens of Gardner will have to cover wherein if their fire protection stayed within the city of Gardner, they would not be paying those costs. Again, you and the city only tell part of the facts in my opinion. If Drovetta used reserves, he didn’t use them to the extent of lowering the bond rating – something he would never do because, as I have said previously, he wants to continue to borrow more money – not cut costs or stopping the spending of money we don’t have.

    It is my understanding it is part of the campaign finance law that you list all donors and donations you received on the recall campaign. The form you submitted, to my knowledge, does not have this information.

  23. Mr. Taylor: An earlier article on this issued stated the following:

    Carol E. Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said knowing who contributed is a key element in campaign finance laws.

    “You just need to know who all those people are,” Williams said. “That’s information that should be available and accessible to the citizens… At the local level, they are supposed to keep detailed accounts of all money. They’re supposed to keep all names.”

    *************************************

    Mr. Taylor, Mr. Beasley, Mr. Clark: Is there something you are not understanding about the above statements??????

  24. GardnerPride says:

    “The facts remain that we met compliance with the law as described to us by the Election Office so take it up with the State if you have problems.”

    Is there something you are not understanding about the above statement?

    The Election Office has the authority to demand such information if required by State and Local laws. My understanding is that Mr. Newby or his office has made no allegation of any laws being broken. I believe Ms. Williams quote above was a statement of opinion, rather than a statement of fact. The FACT is that the Election Office has made no allegation of any laws being broke by the campaign report from the GRC. That is the fact.

  25. You don’t think Ms. Williams with the state ethics commission knows what she is talking about????? Or do you not want to be held to her standards?

  26. GardnerPride says:

    It’s very simple Judith, no one with the authority to do so has stated that they have broken the law.

  27. GardnerPride: You want to make it “simple” so you can have your way but everyone with a brain knows what is going on and how the lack of ethics and integrity is involved in my opinion.

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