Local scouts visited city hall on and led the Pledge of Allegiance from the dais at the Oct 16 city council meeting. Staff photo by Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner council met on Oct.16 and considered Industrial Revenue Bond issuance for construction and costs of a commercial facility, General Obligation Bonds for various road improvement projects, the USD 231 electric rate classification and a contract franchise for a telecommunication system provider.

USD 231 electric rate classification
Council considered recommendation from the Utility Advisory Committee to keep the school district in a distinct classification in the Electric Rate Schedule. An electric rate study will be conducted in 2018.
“In order to understand what the rate should be, we need to include it. Maybe the rate is too low or too high. The study will tell us if that rate is favorable or unfavorable to the city,” said Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director.
Todd Winters, council vice president, asked what the reasoning was for having a separate rate.
Garcia said it was because council had passed an ordinance in 2004.
Lee Moore, council member, replied “The way I understood it was that the school district spans three rate classifications, so they combined it into one.”
The UAC approved keeping the classification with a 4-1 vote on Oct. 12. No action was necessary for council tonight. The classifications in the Electric Rate schedule will remain as is, with the school district having its own.

Bonds and abatement for “Project School”
Laura Gourley, finance director, presented new business item No 1, to consider a Resolution determining intent to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB) in the principal amount of $38 million to pay a portion of the cost of constructing a commercial facility and to grant property tax exemption and PILOT agreement.
The 646,400 square foot warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and call center facility will be at 17001 Mercury Street in the Midwest Commerce Center industrial park.
The Coleman facility is currently the only building in the industrial park.
The name of the company that will move into the space has not yet been revealed, known for now as ‘Project School.’ The public announcement of the company name is pending this council action that formally indicates the city’s intent to issue the $38M in IRB’s.
The cost-benefit analysis for the project was presented earlier in the meeting, followed by a Public Hearing.
“This is a proper location for this project and it is the proper property to be developed in this manner,” Larry Powell, economic development director said, after assuring the chamber that there was no ammonia involved in this project.
The city has agreed to provide a graduated Abatement Factor, that starts at 100 percent for the first five years, then decreases by 20 percent each year for the next five years.
“This is a little bit different than our standard industrial development […] We normally have a 60 percent incentive for ten years. When you figure this out it’s very comparable to the same percentage rate,” said Powell.
Gourley reminded council that although the city is the issuer of the IRB’s, the city is not responsible for payments on the bonds.
“You are a conduit to a tax abatement. The end. That’s it. That’s really what this means,” said Gourley.
Council adopted Resolution No. 1974 with a 5-0 vote.

I-35 interchange and other road improvements
Michael Kramer, public works director, gave a presentation on the I-35 and Gardner Road interchange. The interchange was constructed in 1969.
The growth of industrial facilities at the Intermodal and Logistics Park has created increased traffic. Drivers exit I-35 on the Gardner Road exit, make a right turn on Gardner Road and then left onto 191st Street, which leads into the industrial park.
In 2013, Homestead exit was built to serve traffic to the industrial park and 191st was made a no-truck route.
“About 500 cars get off that ramp at peak hour in the morning”, said Kramer.
Improvement options are still being considered. One plan includes and new bridge and roundabouts on the north and south sides of I-35.
The city has considered potentially closing 183rd and 191st. Kramer has had multiple meetings with property and business owners and discussed the issues with them. He says that they are strongly opposed to closing the roads. Business owners say they would be affected negatively. One has a clause in their lease that allows immediate termination due to reduction of traffic.
Kramer said the Gardner Planning Department, Fire District 1, the City Engineer and the Gardner PD also were all opposed to closing those roads.
In conclusion, Kramer said that consensus was that 183rd and 191st should both remain open; 191st should be open to truck traffic – after improvements; to continue to encourage drivers use the Homestead exit; and to discuss the idea of staggering shifts with industrial park businesses.
Later in the meeting, council considered an ordinance to designate Interstate 35 within the city as a main trafficway.
Laura Gourley, finance director, told council this was a proactive and risk mitigating approach in the event bond proceeds may be needed for the project. Although the city will receive funding from KDOT and MARC for this project, staff cannot know with certainty that no bond proceeds will be needed for the project, as there are so many design variables to be considered by the engineering consultants.
Council passed Ordinance No. 2514 with a 5-0 vote.
Later, council was presented with Resolution No. 1976.
Now that I-35 is designated as a main trafficway, a design contract for the I-35 and Gardner Road interchange project will be prepared for the next Council meeting.
Although the city will receive funding from KDOT and MARC for the I-35 and Gardner Road and 191st Street interchange project, the city’s estimated share of approximately $2.868 million, plus estimated costs of issuance which is “not to exceed $3,040,000,” will be financed by General Obligation Bonds.
In order to enable the city to reimburse itself for the I-35 and Gardner Road and 191st Street interchange improvement expenses from the future bond proceeds, the city must formally approve its intent to do so by resolution.
Council adopted resolution No. 1976 with a 5-0 vote.
Resolution No. 1977, similar to 1976, is for street improvements of Santa Fe from Waverly to Poplar.
Although the city will receive up to $2.437 million in grants from the Johnson County Stormwater Management and Johnson County CARS programs, the city’s share of approximately $1.59 million will be financed by General obligation bonds.
The city previously designated 175th Street (aka Santa Fe Street) within the city limits as a main trafficway, thus making these improvements eligible for bond financing. In order to enable the City to reimburse itself for the street improvement expenses from the future bond proceeds, the city must formally approve its intent to do so by resolution.
Council approved Resolution No. 1975 by a 5-0 vote.

Telecommunication Infrastructure Provider
Council considered ordinance to grant Mobilitie, LLC, a Nevada Limited Liability Company, a contract franchise to construct, operate and maintain a telecommunication system as a competitive infrastructure provider in the city of Gardner.
The franchise agreement grants a nonexclusive contract franchise to construct, maintain, extend and operate facilities along, across, upon or under any public right-of-way for the purpose of supplying telecommunication services as a competitive infrastructure provider and communication facilities within the corporate boundaries of the city.
In consideration of this contract franchise, grantee agrees to remit to the city an annual franchise fee of three percent (3 percent) of gross revenues. To determine the franchise fee, grantee shall calculate its gross revenues and multiply such amount by three percent (3 percent).
Council approved ordinance No. 2588 with a 4-00 vote. Kristy Harrison, council member, abstained.

Canine specialty vehicle replacement
Jim Pruetting, police chief, made a request to council for replacement of a vehicle.
On Oct 11 while responding to a mutual aid call in Spring Hill, the canine officer and Zeus the police dog were involved in a non-injury accident. The insurance company has totaled the vehicle.
Pruetting says they could not find a replacement vehicle locally, but a search had found one in Chicago that could be purchased immediately.
The cost will be around $32,000. Pruetting says insurance should cover all but about $5,000 of that.
The request was for the city to go ahead and pay the $32,000, prior to insurance reimbursement. He said the department has around $3,000 in a vehicle budget.
Council approved up to $32,000 for the replacement vehicle with a 5-0 vote.

• Council heard a presentation on the fire alarm system for city hall. Recommended improvements would cost between $78,000 to $93,000 depending upon options chosen
• October was proclaimed as Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
• October was proclaimed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
• October 26 was proclaimed as Lighhts on After School Day.