Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
A Pilot Utilities Rebate Program for 2021 was not approved by Gardner City Council at their June 21 meeting.
Gonz Garcia, utilities director, said it would be funded from the electric and water funds; $25,000 from the electric fund and $7,500 from the water fund.
Garcia said it would be a coupon based instant discount with Home Depot and Ace Hardware and the city would be invoiced.
Garcia said in 2010 the State of Kansas had had an LED lightbulb incentive program, and the city provided a set of LED bulbs to new electric customers to incentivize energy conservation.
Garcia said in 2015 the rebate program had focused on installation, LED bulbs, energy efficient appliances and more, but no action had been taken on the program at the time.
“Last year the focus was in the commercial side, but this is for the residential side to switch electronic to smart,” he said. Garcia said there is a lot of work to be done, and they need the approval to move forward with the program.
Kacy Deaton, council member, said she wanted to know if there was any thought on the coupons being allowed at other places besides Home Depot and Ace Hardware.
Garcia said it was up to the city on how much flexibility there is in the program.
Randy Gregoryck, council member, said he liked the local component.
Tory Roberts, council member, said she had questions if residents could bring in a receipt if they had purchased from somewhere other than Home Depot or Ace Hardware.
Garcia said Home Depot and Ace Hardware could give a receipt or coupon.
Deaton said she wanted to know why they couldn’t go to Lowe’s, and why it had to be local only.
Garcia said Home Depot was three miles down the road, and Ace Hardware is local.
Mark Baldwin, council member, said in theory the program had a lot of pros.
“Everyone uses devices properly, and it helps us from the utility perspective,” he said. “But then there is not a whole lot of data to show this actually happens.”
Baldwin said he had tried to do some research and hadn’t found data the last few weeks.
“It doesn’t show benefits to all customers,” he said. “You’re subsidizing someone else and unless we can show a benefit I don’t think the data exists,” he said.
Baldwin said it sounds good, but there isn’t any hard data and they should look again further down the road.
Gregoryck said he agreed with some of his peers, and the positive is negligible with kilowatts data from 2017.
Deaton said she wanted to know if a resident would have to call for preapproval.
Garcia said there would be something on the web, and Home Depot would have to give the coupon to the customer.
Roberts said she agreed with Baldwin and that it would take up a lot of staff time.
“I think a lot of people use their own HVAC,” she said. “There is no good way, and it is a lot of work for staff.”
Deaton said she liked the idea of the program.
Todd Winters, council president, said he liked the thinking out of the box but didn’t know if it was the right project for the city.

Other items:
-City adopted a resolution for the public sale of approximately $5,100,000 principal amount of General Obligation Bonds and $2,255,000 principal amount of taxable General O ligation Bonds.
-A voluntary annexation of approximately 100 acres at Madison and 167th streets and Poplar and Waverly Streets known as the Beverly Burgdorfer Revocable Trust Property from Jude Burgdorfer and Janet Davis.
-Committee recommendation for rezoning the 17.66 acres of the northwest intersection of 175th Street and Kill Creek Roads from office and planned garden apartment district to a two family residential district.
“The development is a great example for filling in on the west end of the community,” Robert Case, partner, said. “The pressure is now since it hasn’t been developed since the early 2000s.”
-Committee Recommendation for a 2022 Cured in Place Pipe Rehabilitation project contract with SAK Construction, LLC for $399,516.50.
Garcia, said it would be a new pipe inside the existing clay pipe and is a French method. “Up to two miles needs relocated,” he said.
Gregoryck said he wanted to know how the city verifies the linear feed of the pipe is correct.
Garcia said it was inspected with cameras to know the actual length, and they will go back down after. “It’s based on experience,” he said.
Winters said he thought it was pretty interesting.
-Council pulled three consent agenda items for discussion before approving.
Gregoryck said he wanted to understand how the U.S. Department of the Treasury Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Term and Conditions and Title VI Assurances with the American Rescue Plan Act were going to be used.
“What is that disbursement,” he said. “How and what is it intended for—roads, infrastructure, wastewater.”
Matt Wolff, finance director, said it would be the first half of July and then 12 months after.
“We are still researching the details,” he said.
Wolff said they couldn’t use it toward roads and would be used for waste and sewer infrastructure.
Gregoryck said the city should mitigate as much as they can to citizens.
During council updates Jim Pruetting, city manager, said the city needs huge sewer infrastructure.
Pruetting said they will have a work session because the funding stipulations are very broad for what you can do with it.
A contract with Amino Brothers Company for the Waverly Road to US 56 Highway to Fountain Street Project was approved.
Winters said he was happy there would finally be a connection from Waverly to St Johns to Kill Creek and connecting the trails and sidewalks.
A contract with Asplundh Tree Expert  for the 2021-2025 Electric Line Clearance Tree Trimming was approved for $55,000 per year.
Gregoryck said he had asked over the years if it was something the city could self perform with staffing and equipment.
“Is that a consideration line item for seasonal projects,” he said.
Garcia, utilities director, said the safety factor was the issue because of power lines.

“You need specialized know how,” he said. “You would have to have experience and the cost saving is minimal of the safety aspect.”
Gregoryck said was there ever an opportunity or was it a blue sky question.
Roberts said she thought it was a worthwhile service especially when there are problems with ice storms.
Baldwin said the problem is safety, and they will never get ahead.
“There is never a difference in work performed year after year,” he said. “I don’t think we can self perform now.”