Chris Morrow, mayor (far right), and Adraina Holopirek, recreation supervisor (far left), were joined by Gardner youth to proclaim April as “Autism Awareness Month” in the city of Gardner at the city council meeting on April 17. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The April 17 Gardner city council meeting covered many topics, including new estimates for a justice center facility, fees for the fire department, trails replacement bids, employee insurance plans, a poorly functioning bathroom at the municipal airport and more. Full council attended a 6 p.m. work session prior to the 7 p.m. council meeting.

Justice Center
At the April 3 meeting, council directed staff to consult with Treanor Architects to review the study they performed in 2013 to estimate current cost of a new facility for police and municipal court.
Michael Kramer, public works director, shared the results of the recent discussion with Treanor.
The 2013 study estimated the cost at $8.9 million. It also anticipated the cost to rise by about 4% every year afterwards.
Kramer said costs have actually increased by 8% since then.
The updated estimate, if construction began in 2018, is roughly $13.5 million.
That includes $11.3 million in hard construction costs and $2.2 million for engineering, architects, surveying and other ‘soft costs’.
Laura Gourley, finance director, told council the debt service on $13.5 million would be $950,000 a year for twenty years.
“Based on my prior evaluation… you’re about $132,000 short annually right now”, she told council.
Gourley said this included two revenue streams, one of which will end in ten years.
Chris Morrow, mayor, noted that some existing debt will roll off in that time frame as well.
Staff will prepare a special question to go on the fall election ballot and present it for council consideration at the next meeting.
The special question must be submitted to the election office by June 1.

Fire District #1
FD1 wants to implement a fee schedule for new construction building permit and inspection fees.
Rob Kirk, fire chief, and Dennis Meyers, assistant fire chief, attended the meeting.
Meyers gave the presentation to council and both participated in discussion afterwards.
The fees will apply to new construction only and, with the exception of apartment buildings, does not apply to residential.
“Apartment complexes, hospitals, extended health care facilities, hotels and restaurants. Those are the types of properties we do get deeply involved in from the beginning”, said Meyer.
“We’re back in those businesses at least once a year for the life of that building”, he said.
The proposed fees: for properties under 12,500 square feet, a flat fee of $250 would apply. Over 12,500 square feet would be charged the rate of 2 cents per square foot.
For that fee, FD1 will provide plan review, fire system plan review, site inspections, fire system inspections, site access inspections, final inspection before occupancy and annual inspections.
Rich Melton, council member, wanted to see the city offset the cost to contractors by discounting city fees to match the fire district fee.
Chris Morrow, mayor, said that would be a policy decision council would have to take up later.

Municipal Airport
Roger Thomas, GMA patron, came forward during Public Comments to make council aware of problem with the bathroom at Gardner Municipal Airport (GMA).
The restroom is on a septic system and has been problematic for a long time, especially after heavy rains, but Thomas said that recently it’s gotten much worse.
Thomas believes that city trucks damaged the lateral lines by driving over them while dismantling and removing playground equipment that did not meet city standards.
“If it was a bathroom at city hall, it’d be fixed – now. If it was a bathroom in a home, it’d be fixed – now. I think the airport out there deserves that also. At least get a porta-potty out there”, he said.
Thomas said the fuel at GMA brings in fliers from all over, who land here to buy fuel, use the facilities and take off again. He cited some recent examples.
“I think it’s time that whole doggone thing was taken care of and taken care of properly”, he concluded.
Later in Council Updates, Michael Kramer, public works director, acknowledged the problem but said he didn’t think the trucks were the cause of the issues.
The lateral lines do run under or adjacent to the playground, which Kramer noted is a bad combination to begin with.
To connect the airport to the city sewer system across 175th street would cost around $130,000.
Rich Melton, council member, asked about just replacing the septic system.
Kramer said the location of the existing septic system wasn’t appropriate and there’s too much surrounding pavement for alternate placement.
In the meantime, an ADA compliant port-a-potty is on the way to GMA.

Trails Replacement Project
In March, the city collected seven bids for removal and replacement of Madison Trail and Winwood Trail.
The low bid of $310,381.20 was from Orr Wyatt Streetscapes.
The existing ten foot wide sidewalks will be replaced with four inches of asphalt over a six inch compacted gravel base in two phases. Sidewalk ramps along the trails will be reconstructed to meet ADA design criteria.
Kramer said the city had not worked with Orr Wyatt before but they had heard positive feedback from previous clients and references.
Council approved authorizing the contract by voice vote with none opposed.

• Council discussed and approved contributions and options for employee health and vision insurance for the 2017-2018 plan year
• Council approved purchase of a F-550 crew cab diesel truck and utility bed for $56,746.45
• Described as a housekeeping item, Ordinance No. 2544, an amendment to Gardner Municipal code, was passed with a 5-0 vote
• Council discussed ADA Committee recommendation to support a modified International Symbol of Access (ISA) symbol
• Scott Garrie said the national cost recovery average for Parks and Recreation departments is 29% and in 2016, Gardner was at 41%
Awards and Proclamations
• The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded the City of Gardner, Kansas with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its 2017 budget. This is the second consecutive year that the City has received this award.
• The Gardner Police Department was presented with an AAA Community Traffic Safety Award which recognizes efforts to improve local traffic safety.
• April 22 was proclaimed as Arbor Day in the city of Gardner.
• The month of April was proclaimed as Autism Awareness Month.