Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The May 16 Gardner City Council meeting terminated the Walmart TIF district and gave the go ahead to a contract to renovate the Gardner Senior Center.
The tax increment finance district (TIF) was part of the development agreement between Walmart Stores, Inc., and Gardner.
Although established in 2004 and expected to last twenty years, it could be terminated earlier if the project produced higher than expected revenues, and the city paid all its reimbursement debts. With those requirements met, the TIF will terminate 9 years early. When the TIF is gone, Gardner will collect the property and sales tax from the district.
Ordinance 2510 does away with the TIF, and passed by 5-0 council vote.
The total amount paid to the developer was about $6.8 million and the final payment was remitted in March.
According to the agenda, all increment property tax and sales tax generated within the district will no longer be remitted back to Wal-Mart and can now be used to support Gardner and other taxing jurisdictions. The 2016 budget was developed assuming the TIF would be terminated mid-year and revenues have been incorporated into the general fund.
Also by a 5-0 vote, the council authorized the city administrator to accept the $294,950 bid from RF Benchmark Construction and award them the renovation contract for the Gardner Senior Center, 128 E. Park.
In April Jeff Stewart, then-parks and recreation director, said construction was anticipated to take 4-6 months. The facility has about 500 rentals per year. While the facility is closed plans are for senior meals to be relocated to the Baptist Church.
A new heating and cooling system was not part of the original scope but has since been recommended for replacement. This adds $91,670.
Staff recommendation included an additional $44,185 be allocated as a fund to purchase furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The city expects to receive a $200,000 Johnson County Community Development block grant to apply against the project cost.
Rich Melton, council member, asked if the type of audio/visual equipment for recording public meetings was a consideration.
The fund for furniture and other expenditures mentioned above, was raised to $47,185 to add money for audio visual equipment.
Total projected cost to the city is $192,630. That does include the new HVAC system, and is after the $200,000 JCCD grant is applied.

In other business:

Consent Agenda Items
Council approved all items on the consent agenda, one with discussion regarding the public water main extension project from Kane to West Grand. Steve Shute, council president, wanted to know how traffic would be affected.
Brian Faust, public works director, indicated that he hoped both lanes would stay open but possibly one lane could close.

Council then approved the item.
Council also authorized two contracts relating to the purchase and installation of new equipment at electrical substations.
The final consent item authorized a work order with PEC, P.A., for services associated with property demolition at the Gardner Municipal Airport.
Council recessed into closed session at 7:53 and resumed at 8:13 with oral updates, and then adjourned.

Presentations
Earlier in the meeting were two presentations.
Courtney Koger, attorney at Kutak Rock, advised council on the topic of elected officials’ liability and Jeanne Koontz, city clerk, reviewed the basics of KORA and KOMA (Kansas Open Records Act and Kansas Open Meetings Act).
May 15-21 was proclaimed as National Public Works Week by Chris Morrow, mayor.