Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2001

De Soto City Council saves money, goes into debt

June 14, 2001

After hearing both good news and bad news, the De Soto City Council learned it will have to borrow the same amount of money it will save for needed infrastructure improvements.

The good news is that it will cost far less than estimated to install a waterline connecting De Soto's water distribution system with the water treatment plant at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

The bad news is that state-mandated upgrades at the De Soto sewer plant will require the city to borrow money saved from the waterline.

City engineer Mike Brungardt said he received bids of $54,000 and $60,000 to install the new waterline connecting the meter pit near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Sunflower Road with the city's distribution system, which terminates at the nearby Countryside Learning Center. He had originally estimated the line would cost $97,000.

In May, the city council authorized $200,000 in short-term notes to pay for the waterline, a $25,000 pump and $75,000 for contingencies. Improper wording on the resolution prevented the council from taking formal action on that authorization last Thursday.

City Administrator Gerald Cooper suggested the city take advantage of that delay. He proposed short-term notes for sewer plant improvements be included in the final bond authorization resolution.

Earlier this year, the city council approved $30,000 in improvements to the city wastewater treatment plant. The improvements are needed to bring the sewer plant into compliance with state mandated ammonia discharge levels.

"Based on the things that have happened, we've spent 60 percent of the sewer budget in the first four months of the year," the city administrator said. "If we don't do something, we're going to have a big budgetary shortfall at the end of the year."

By issuing bonds for the improvements, the city can spread the improvement costs over a number of years, Cooper said. The city council will consider a resolution on the $200,000 bond authorization June 21.

The council did approve a resolution that authorized $465,000 in bonds for street improvements. Cooper suggested last month that the city use short-term notes to finance this year's street improvements. The move would allow the city to place $493,000 of excise and gas tax revenue in a reserve account for emergencies. The plan is to use the reserve account to pay off the street improvement bonds in two years.

This year's street improvement projects are:

chip and seal paving for half of the streets in old-town De Soto

chip and seal portions of Cedar Creek Road

road base improvements and chip and seal for 95th Street from the Corliss Road intersection east one mile

road base improvements and chip and seal to 87th Street from Penner Avenue to the cemetery's west boundary

grading and drainage improvement on 95th Street and Cedar Creek roads

realignment and improvements at the south Y intersection

Golfers at the new Burning Tree Golf Club will have to forego the 19th hole for at least of few more weeks. The city council tabled Bob Hill's request for a cereal malt beverage license for the golf course as premature.

In April, a lame-duck council approved the golf course's annexation by a 3-2 vote. Tim Maniez and Linda Zindler opposed the city's first annexation north of the Kansas River out of concern the area was not addressed in the city's comprehensive plan and future commitments for the e Kansas River bridg maintenance.

Under an annexation agreement, Hill was allowed to open the golf course as he sought a special-use permit for its operation from the De Soto Planning Commission. The commission will consider the special-use permit June 28.

"I was surprised to see this on the agenda," Mayor Dave Anderson said. "I have heard no opposition from the planning commission to the special-use permit. I don't think it's a problem.

"This just seems like we're getting the cart before the horse."

Council members agree and voted to table the request until the special-use permit is approved. Councilman Emil Urbanek voted against the motion.

In other business, the council:

approved an agreement with Johnson County Rural Water District No. 6 to purchase water on a contingency basis for $2.50 per 1,000 gallons

approved Diane Zwahlen's request that the city waive rent at Memorial Hall for classes the Northeast Kansas Cultural Arts will schedule starting later this month

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