Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2001

Price of providing water to rise with Alliant’s departure

June 7, 2001

The city of De Soto is going to have to pay to bring needed utilities to the water treatment plant it leases at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant if it is to continue operating the facility after Sept. 30.

Alliant Techsystems Inc. announced earlier this year that it would not extend its agreement to manage Sunflower when its current contract expires Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. The new civilian management will be asked to provide far fewer services at the plant.

Previous correspondence from the Army indicated all the leases Alliant managed at Sunflower, with the exception of De Soto's lease to operate the water plant, would be terminated with Alliant's departure.

However, Dan Dailey, the Army's Sunflower installation manager, sent a letter to all current tenants late last month stating that the Army would extend their leases if they would accept five stipulations.

The letter states tenants wishing to maintain leases must agree to:

A one-year agreement with multiple renewal options. The Army reserves the right to terminate agreements on 30-days notice.

Refrain from bringing legal action against the Army or Alliant.

Provide for their own services and utilities.

Provide insurance or bonding to protect the "Army's interest in the property against any environmental degradation and/or ensure the property is adequately restored" when the tenant leaves.

Reimburse the Kansas City District of the Army Corps of Engineers for its administrative costs of managing the leases.

Dailey said Tuesday that the Army could not afford to offer power at Sunflower.

"It costs us several hundred thousand dollars a year to maintain that power grid. We don't begin to make that up through leases," he said.

Western Resources has declined the Army's offer to use existing power lines to serve any tenants that remain on the plant, Dailey said.

"Western Resources has no interest in using those lines," he said. "We will put in a new, smaller power line to serve Army offices."

The city and any other remaining tenants can cut their costs by sharing in the expense of the new line, Dailey said. The same is true with phone service, he said. But, because the Army offices are heated by propane, the Army will not maintain a gas line.

De Soto City Administrator Gerald Cooper said city officials have not yet talked to the Army about the letter or its consequences. His quick, off-hand estimate was that it would take $10,000 to get power to the water plant.

Natural gas won't be a problem, Cooper said. The city will heat the water plant with an infrared electrical system or propane, he explained.

The city is also a utility provider at Sunflower by operating the water and sewage plants. Dailey said the city could continue using existing lines to provide those services, but after Sept. 30, all tenants must negotiate the terms of continued water and sewer service with the city.

The city earns little or no revenue from its on-plant customers, Cooper said.

"We'll have to look at those carefully," he said.

The Army is negotiating with a contractor to replace Alliant, Dailey said. The scope of services that contractor will provide will be restricted mainly to security, which will be maintained at current levels, and environmental monitoring. That means remaining tenants will be responsible for snow removal and other services Alliant provided, he said.

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