by Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Edgerton city council considered damage from the Aug. 21 flood and took action to accelerate recovery efforts at their regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 24. Council also heard from the Kiwanis, considered another large LPKC warehouse project, a temporary gravel truck yard for UPS, and adopted the 2018 Budget.
2017 flood – disaster
Before the start of business, Don Roberts, mayor, departed from the agenda to spend some time discussing the overnight flooding in Edgerton on Aug. 21-22.
“Edgerton did not declare a disaster, because we don’t have to, Johnson County declared it a disaster,” said Roberts.
At one point, Edgerton’s public works building was covered by 14 foot of water.
2017 flood – going forward
“This is the first time in my life that we were ever totally land locked in. Ever. There’s always been a way out of town,” Roberts said.
The city has a crossing upgrade planned for 207th street in future plans, and Roberts said it would have provided a way in and out, if it was there now.
“We’re expecting construction to start in 2020 and maybe completion in 2021, somewhere in that time frame, so it’s just around the corner in reality, and something that we could never afford without the industrial development outside of town,” said Roberts.
Roberts said there were 1,500 people in Edgerton who are not subscribed to NotifyJoCo, a mass notification system designed to keep Johnson County Kansas residents and businesses informed in emergency events.
He cited how helpful it was that night – alerting subscribers to road closures and other important information. He said it would always be the first place the city communicates emergency public information and urged citizens to sign up for the free service.
Roberts suggested a community clean-up day, offering trash pickup from the curb, be scheduled and asked council if they would agree, and they did. Details and date will be published in the city newsletter.
2017 flood – the damage
Beth Linn, city administrator, gave a summary of the damage incurred by the flooding.
She said staff believes the city received between 9 to 10.5 inches of rain in about 7 hours.
The city’s public works facility was under 14 feet of water at the height of the flooding, and the water hasn’t fully receded yet. Because of that, damage estimates are still preliminary – but there’s no doubt the public works department has been hit hard.
“We have five vehicles out of 21 that were not affected,” Linn said.
Roberts said they didn’t have a dump truck and couldn’t even haul gravel at this point.
The city of Olathe and FD1 have both loaned dump trucks to Edgerton.
Linn said staff’s early estimates expect damage to reach $2 million or more.
Staff will work two processes in recovery – insurance and county/state disaster aid. Roberts told council that state and federal aid would have to work its way to the governor and president, and it will be some time before funds are received.
Linn also expressed appreciation for staff’s concerned response and teamwork.
“This is one of those instances in your career as a city administrator where it’s make or break – you really get to understand whether or not you actually have a team underneath of you and very much, that is the case,” said Linn.
2017 flood – emergency spending policy
The city is focusing on short term emergency needs right now.
In order to respond to critical needs as soon as possible, council was asked to consider temporarily suspending the city’s Purchase Authority Policy for purchases directly related to this flood.
A memo prepared by Lee Hendricks, city attorney, detailed how flood related purchases would occur during the suspension, and was distributed to council members.
Under existing policy any purchase over $15,000 must wait for council approval. Under the suspension, the $15,000 purchase limit would be lifted and purchases over $15,000 can be made immediately by the city administrator, with the mayor’s approval.
“The city administrator is approving it because it’s a necessity, the mayor is going to give his OK to it and then you ratify that at the next meeting. That was a way and an effort to try and keep that check and balance, but also give some flexibility to the city administrator,” Hendricks explained to council.
Roberts added, “The goal of this really, is to get us back to at least an operational stance, because we are not.”
Hendricks said emergency purchases could be made under the existing policy, but this recognizes there are likely going to be multiple emergency purchases needed to recover from the flooding.
Ron Conus, council member, commented that he didn’t especially like the process but did trust staff with doing what is necessary.
Cindy Crooks, council member, re-iterated the suspension was only temporary.
Unless amended by council, the suspension ends on Dec. 31.
Council voted 3-0 to authorize the temporary suspension. Council members Clay Longanecker and Darius Crist were absent.
Roberts praised the people and agencies involved in emergency support that night.
He specifically thanked Capt. Jerry Campbell and the entire Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the Southwest Johnson County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Chief Rob Kirk and Fire District 1 (FD1) and Commissioner Mike Brown.
“Mike Brown called me before 6 a.m. that morning to make sure if we needed anything, he would help and assist if possible,” said Roberts.
Roberts said FD1 did a couple of water rescues that night.
FD1 Station 124 is in downtown Edgerton and on duty firemen were present at the meeting. Roberts said it was good to have them around.
Finally he thanked city staff. “City staff has done a tremendous job so far, with a ton of work already accomplished and a ton more to come,” Roberts said.
Business – in brief
– By a 3-0 vote, council approved construction of the 2017 CARS East Nelson Street Quiet Zone Project to Miles Excavating, Inc. and authorized an agreement with BNSF Railway.
– Council held public hearing and adopted the 2018 Budget with a 3-0 vote.
– Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing up to $42.6 million in industrial revenue bonds for a 777,000 square foot warehouse to be located at 18451 Montrose Street.
– United Parcel Service (UPS) has asked for a Conditional Use Permit to allow them to establish a temporary gravel lot to be used as transportation storage and trucking yard. Planning Commission recommended approval with condition that the the lot will either be paved or returned to grass within 60 days after the permit expires in 12 months. Council adopted Ordinance No. 1062, allowing the CUP, with a 3-0 vote.
– Linn, presented council with an amended job description for the vacant community development director position. Council approved 3-0.