Special to The Gardner News
Gardner City Council chose Mark Baldwin to replace former council member Rich Melton as the new council vice-president.
Melton resigned at the January 18 council, and Kacy Deaton was chosen to fill the vacancy in February.
City Council also passed two items at the March 1 meeting.
The first was the reconstruction of US-56 Highway from Sycamore Street to Moonlight Road and back to US-56 Highway.
Full pavement reconstruction, sidewalk improvements, a traffic signal between Quick Trip and Walgreens and driveway replacements are included in the project. The project begins Summer 2021 for an estimated $2,137,060.
The second was the 2021 State Legislative Agenda.
Kacy Deaton, member, said last year Gardner’s agenda hadn’t been pushed enough with the Kansas Legislature.
Amy Nastsa, deputy city administrator, said this was because of the impact of the Covid pandemic. “But we can do more now in the future,” she said.
Steve Shute, mayor, said they can lobby more for Gardner’s interests in the future.
Baldwin said the Kansas representatives are not beholden to the City of Gardner. “They should be hearing from Gardner citizens not us,” he said.
Shute said Section 3 Bullet point E of the 2021 State Legislative Agenda for transportation funding sources was his main focus.
“We have a significant need,” he said. “We need to make KDOT more solid with not pushing more taxes, as we want to get the roads fixed.”
Finance Director Matt Wolff, finance director gave two presentations to the council.
The first presentation was for the 2020 End of Year Report.
Wolff said the general fund is above target, the electric fund is robust and the city’s overall financial condition is solid.
However, he said the water fund was only adequate and the wastewater fund needs looked at for further discussion.
Wolf’s second presentation was for the electric costs after the February winter cold snap.
He said there will be a spike in natural gas and electric for about 2.5 cents per kilowatt per hour.
Shute said it was a financial emergency effecting many cities.
Baldwin said the discussion was premature and the city shouldn’t do anything immediately. “We don’t know the long-term and long-term ripple effect,” he said.
Baldwin said they should look at the ten year forecast, rate change and go incremental instead of financial aid all at once.
Todd Winters, council president, said he agreed with Baldwin that the city should wait. “We should use money sooner than later though and use building reserves to offset the immediate for the short-term,” he said.