Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2004

Memo tilts council vote

December 23, 2004

A recommendation from Basehor city treasurer Baron Powell may have helped provide the deciding margin in a vote on whether to allow two Basehor developers to pre-pay sewer connection fees this year before a 2005 price hike kicks in.

If approved, developers behind Pinehurst, a mixed-use development south of U.S. Highway 24/40, and representatives from Scherer Construction, would have been allowed to pre-pay for a combined 64 sewer connection fees at the 2004 rate of $1,600. Next year, the sewer connection fees are scheduled to increase to $2,200.

The city currently charges sewer connection fees when building permits are issued; developers requested to pre-pay the sewer fees this year to beat the '05 increase.

The Council voted separately on each development's request to pre-pay. The proposal for Pinehurst failed, 3-2, with members John Bonee and Julian Espinoza voting in favor of allowing the pre-payments. The Scherer Construction request failed, 4-1, with Espinoza as the lone vote of approval.

Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer stepped down as mayor during the discussion concerning the Scherer Construction proposal. Scherer said he had a conflict of interest.

Last week, the City Council unanimously approved a question similar to the one it rejected Monday night. The council agreed to allow the pre-payment for 20 sewer connection fees for villas inside the Pinehurst development.

Powell told City Council members he wasn't given the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal last week.

As part of his recommendation, Powell said allowing pre-paid fees would have "significant negative impacts on the financial status of the sewer fund" and that it would take up to nine years for the city to recover money lost from the scheduled rate increases.

Sources to recoup the money lost on the pre-paid connection fees would be higher monthly utility bills or property taxes, the treasurer contended, which would impact the general Basehor population. By sticking to the 2005 rates, the city would be targeting new homeowners and businesses moving into the city instead, Powell said in his recommendation.

City Council member Keith Sifford, who voted against allowing the pre-payments, said the memo was the difference between his vote last week and this week.

"If I would have had this article in front of me last week I would have not voted for this," Sifford said. "This (referring to the memo) is as plain as it could be."

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