Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The April 6 council meeting was held virtually due to the COVID-19 state wide shut down, and there were few glitches with the livestream.
Gardner City Council members approved a temporary permit for Tumbleweed Bar and Grill to serve and consume alcohol for the Gardner Spring Derby on the Johnson County Fairgrounds event on May 9, 2020.
The CMB waiver will temporarily suspend the distance limitation which is within 200 feet of a school, church or library.
The beer garden will operate from 2 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. Cereal Malt Beverage consumption at an ABV of 6 percent and less will only be allowed within the beer garden area.
“This is new for the fairgrounds,” Todd Winters, council vice-president, said. “But maybe we can allow this a year at a time, as this is something that will come up again.”
Paul Denk, city attorney, said the Gardner can grant longer permits and revisit the city municipal code, as it currently only favors for individual events.
Steve Shute, mayor, said he could see how the problem in the past could be seen as a liability issue.
Mark Baldwin, council member, said it was a permit he would like to see approved once a year over something that is approved over and over again as events happen.
“They can’t serve alcohol on the fairground premises without coming to us for every event,” Shute said. He said he would be interested in approving a permit once a year. Winters and Rich Melton, council member, said they agreed with Shute.
“My concern is always people prefer drinking before these [fairground] events,” Melton said.
Council authorized the public sale of approximately $29,150,000 principal amount of General Obligation Bonds for the expansion of the water treatment plant and the smart meters project.
The Water Treatment Plan is a 20 year project and Smart Meters are a 10 year project.
The city’s municipal financial advisor was on the phone to answer council questions.
Melton asked what type of rates they can expect at this time with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the economy.
“It has been a remarkable week for the bond market,” the advisor said. “We are pretty stable, but in case the market goes haywire we have an alternative, but Plan A entering the public market will have great success at this time.”
Last August the council authorized using General Obligation Bonds in an amount to pay the cost of an expansion to the Hillsdale Water Treatment Plant. Future debt service payments for the water treatment plan expansion will come from the water fund.
The smart meters will have 25 percent of debt service payments from the Water fund and 75 percent from the Electric Fund.
An ordinance approving the description and survey of lands necessary for constructing, reconstructing and maintaining of public utility improvements was approved.
It is known as the Circuit 41 Backfeed Project.
Gonz Garcia, utility director said the owner of Fairfield subdivision wouldn’t give up the easement.
“We started the condemnation process,” he said. “The ordinance is to move forward with the condemnation.”
Baldwin asked what had been happening with the process since July 18 when it began.
Garcia said they are going North of the subdivision.
“Due to growth this is needed now,” he said. “We will not have to use eminent domain.”
Shute asked how long it will take and that he likes avoiding using eminent domain.
Garcia said it will be a two to three month project.
“We aren’t actually taking land,” Baldwin said. “We are just digging.”
Garcia said they had to proceed this way, because The City of Edgerton would not give the easements.
In early November 2017, the city approached Northpoint to see if they would grant an easement across their property in Edgerton. Northpoint said the location of the proposed electrical easement was also the location of the pedestrian/trail easement that was dedicated to Edgerton. The request was denied.
Matt Wolff, finance director, presented the tax abatement policy to council members. The livestream feed of the meeting cut off before the vote and didn’t return until discussion on new business item number five had begun.
The proposed tax abatement policy supplements the existing Economic Development Incentive Policy by adopting official policies and procedures for the granting of property tax abatement exceptions. The proposed tax abatement policy outlines conditions and criteria for granting the exemption, the required preparation of an analysis of the costs and benefits of each exemption, and the procedure for monitoring the compliance of a business receiving an exemption.
Wolff said there are two different types of abatement.
“We usually use RIBs,” he said. “With constitutional we don’t have to pay the origination fee.”
The municipal financial advisor said RIBs can be used for any commercial enterprise and have an equipment sales tax exemption.
“Constitutional is narrower,” he said.
Wolff said they have never done commercial abatements.
Council passed the acceptance of easements and authorizing payments totaling $50,050.00 for the new raw water main as part of the Hillsdale Expansion Project.
A new 24 foot raw water transmission main water line will be constructed as part of the Hillsdale Water Treatment Plant expansion project. The water line will help treat at proposed improvement levels.
Garcia said they are still pending consent from two of the eight landowners.
He said KDHE approved the new condition.
“The pond will be 100 feet from the property line,” Garcia said.
Larry Powell, public works director, addressed council at the end of the meeting to inform residents that they are still taking permit applications electronically and over the phone for home improvement projects.
“City is still doing business,” he said. “We can take payments over the phone, too.”
Randy Gregorcyk, council member, said Powell should put something on social media giving residents clear directions.
“It would behoove is to help those folks out,” he said.
Powell said staff is working on putting the information on social media.
Melton asked if permits were required for deck improvements.
Powell said permits are not needed for maintenance.