Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner city council met on July 17 with one major item on the agenda and that was consideration to buy owner participation in an energy facility. Council updates included comments on fireworks, Gardner Township and the paper of record.

Dogwood Energy Facility
The council considered a recommendation from the Utility Advisory Commission to buy owner participation in the Dogwood Energy Facility.
The Dogwood facility is located about 40 miles east of Gardner, in Pleasant Hill, Mo.
The Dogwood Project Agreement would have the city buy 20 MW owner participation in the facility.
Under the agreement, the city is essentially buying a part of the plant, utilizing 20 year KMEA issued municipal bonds in the amount of $10,880,000.
Additional costs make a total of $11,470,454 in financial closing requirements.
The city has been in an agreement with the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) since 2006. That agreement ends on Dec. 31, 2018.
The purchase contract with Dogwood must be signed no later than Aug. 1, 2017. The city will receive a toll back benefit of $401,144 as Dogwood will pay the 2018/19 interest costs.
Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, presented the committee recommendation. He compared the costs of OPPD and various alternatives, including Dogwood.
Although Dogwood is second lowest annual cost, it is recommended because it offers advantages. One is that after 20 years, the debt service would be paid off, and the city would have 20 MW in capacity at no cost starting in 2021.
In addition, as an owner, the city would receive a 3 percent share of net revenues, which amounts to about $300,000 annually.
With a 5-0 vote, council approved Resolution No. 1971, authorizing the execution of the Dogwood Project Agreement between the city of Gardner and the Kansas Municipal Energy Administration (KMEA) for 20 MW owner participation in Dogwood Energy Facility.

Approved in the Consent Agenda:
• a service contract to test relays in Substations #2 and #3.
• a supply and installation contract for a 250 kW water plant generator.
• service contracts for submersible pumps at Kill Creek Lift Station.
• a contract with Bettis Asphalt & Construction for Center Street & Kane Street realignment construction.

Post Fireworks
Steve Shute, council president, said that since the fireworks season has concluded, he’s received citizen responses that were split about 50-50 between people who really appreciated it, and those with legitimate concerns.
Most of the concerns are a result of people not following the rules – shooting fireworks outside of times or places allowed by ordinance.
“It puts the entire freedom of everybody to shoot off fireworks at risk,” said Shute.
He also mentioned people boasting on social media about shooting fireworks illegally and others “shooting off mouths on social media, demeaning people, creating some pretty bad circumstances.”
“I don’t like what happened this time around, in a lot of cases,” he concluded.
Lee Moore and Rich Melton, council members, said citizen surveys would be done to get public input and fireworks would probably be reconsidered by council year by year.

Gardner Cemetery
Michael Kramer, public works director, reported that estimates were being prepared for paving Grant Street across the tracks to the Gardner Cemetery.
Staff is also looking at costs of extending water service and possibly electric service to the township.
Kramer said he would bring the topic back to council after the costs were figured.
Kramer also told council that parts of the Madison Trail project may require more extensive work and a change order was likely.

Paper of Record
At the July 3 meeting Melton said he would like to look into changing the paper of record. Moore stated he agreed and both suggested changing from The Gardner News to the Kansas City Star.
Moore asked tonight if staff had any numbers or a report to compare the options.
Laura Gourley, finance director, indicated that she didn’t know that was a directive and didn’t know exactly what was wanted.
There was discussion about what defines the phrase “paper of record.” Ryan Denk, city attorney, basically said it was up to the governing body to define.
Kansas statute governs legal publications.
The Gardner News, a locally owned newspaper, has been Gardner’s official newspaper for public records for at least 30 years.
Subscription rates, online readers and availability were discussed.
“I’m open to any options,” said Moore.