Water supply talks stall in Herington
By J.R. Sparke
With water supply contract talks at a stalemate, Herington City Commission members approved Tuesday sending a letter to the Hope City Council offering to sell water to the community at a cost of $3.79 per 1,000 gallons along with normal customer monthly fees. The price, which includes a 10 percent bulk user discount, will be subject to change annually for budgetary reasons.
Hope Mayor Ruby Davis attended Tuesday’s commission meeting. She said the Hope City Council had discussed the matter and was not agreeable to any change in the contract. Davis said Hope currently has a three-year water supply contract with Herington and a change in terms at this time was not acceptable.
A written reply to the Herington letter has been requested from the city council at Hope.
Hope has received treated water from Herington for several years through a pipeline constructed specifically for that purpose.
In another water-related matter, Herington commission members approved capping two water wells at the Herington Regional Airport, located 9 miles northeast of Herington. Flow meters will be installed at the request of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
City Manager Ron Strickland said the wells had not been in use for several years, but could be restored to service. He recommended capping the wells, which would allow for use in the future. If the wells were plugged, new wells would need to be drilled if there was future water need. Strickland said the approval process for drilling a new well could take as long as 18 months.
Commission members agreed with the Strickland’s recommendation and formalized it with a unanimous 5-0 vote.
The governing body also agreed with Strickland when it approved a new policy regarding city employees using city-owned equipment to perform work for persons residing outside the city limits. All such requests must now be brought to the city manager for approval of project scope and anticipated costs.
The policy applies only to individuals and does not affect the city cooperating with area communities in times of need.
Commissioners did not agree with a proposed policy change relating to tree removal and trimming by city employees. Strickland suggested that all limb material larger than 1-1/2 inches in diameter be cut into suitable length for use as firewood at campsites at Lake Herington and the Herington Reservoir. The wood be bundled and sold at $3 per bundle to help pay the salary for the camp host at the impoundments.
Commissioner Fred Olsen expressed concern that cutting the limbs into firewood would add work time to tree trimming projects, which could eliminate any financial benefit from the sale of firewood.
However, commission members were agreeable to a trial period prior to reconsideration of a policy change.
Unanimous approval was given by the commission to the Throttle Jockey Car Club of Herington to host a car show and drag races at the Herington Regional Airport on Saturday, April 27.
Club spokesman Jerry Alcorn said there were approximately 120 entries in last year’s show. He said that number could have been easily doubled had it not been for the prediction of severe weather.
Alcorn said entry fees will be charged to participants this year, but that the general public will continue to be admitted free of charge. Donations were accepted last year to help fund the event.
The City of Herington will provide fire and EMS services.
In another matter, Strickland suggested the monthly pay received by commissioners be increased from $50 to $75 and from $60 to $100 for the mayor. However, commissioners declined to take action on the matter.
Commissioners D.J. Neuberger and Olsen said they had sought municipal office without knowing they would be paid.
The desire to serve and improve his community were among the reasons he ran for a city commission seat, Commissioner Olsen said.
Commissioner Neuberger was skeptical if increasing the monthly pay for commissioners and mayor would prompt more persons to file for office.
Actions related to municipal boards were taken by the commission.
It was agreed two of the seven members serving on the Herington Municipal Library Board of Trustees could reside outside of the city limits.
Alice Bell, a current board member, said there have been difficulties in getting enough in-town residents to serve. She said the library serves a wide area and out-of-town residents have expressed interest in serving.
City Attorney Brad Jantz said he would draft the necessary paperwork to allow non-Herington residents living in the Tri-County Area to be members of the board.
The resignation of Kim Morris from the library board was accepted.
Lannett Frazier was appointed to a four-year term on the Housing Authority. Also filling out applications of interest were Rick Freeman and Gary Schrader.
Reappointed to three-year terms on the Planning Commission were Dennis Albrecht, Elaine Conant and Gary Floyd.
Central National Bank-Herington and the First National Bank of Junction City-Herington were unanimously designated as the official depositories for city funds during 2013.
On a 4-1 vote, The Herington Times was designated as the official city newspaper for 2013. Commissioner Woodie Haire cast the “no” vote.
During a comments portion of the meeting, Commissioner Neuberger said persons had expressed concern to him about the city not treating streets adequately following a recent snowstorm, with the result being ice-slickened conditions.
Strickland said the material used by the city is effective only with a certain temperature range.
Commissioner Neuberger also asked that a map of the city’s snow routes be provided to The Times for publication.
Commissioners met in a 30-minute closed session with Strickland and Jantz to discuss a non-elected personnel matter. No action was taken when the meeting was reopened.
The Herington City Commission’s next regularly-scheduled meeting is slated at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5.
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