Archive for Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Taxes could increase for sewer district

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

October 7, 2008

Residents in sewer district No. 3 might be seeing $100 more in property taxes this year because of failing grinder pumps.

The Leavenworth County Board of Commissioners met, serving as the board of directors for the sewer district, to talk about the public works shortfall in the budget.

“It’s been brought to our attention that the grinder pumps at sewer district 3 have been failing at a rate that is higher than what has been budgeted for,” Heather Morgan, county administrator said. “The cost to repair the grinder pumps has also increased.

“Really it’s one of those things we don’t really have a choice about. It’s a user fee and the equipment is reaching the end of its life.”

The public works department had budgeted $7,500 for repair and replacement of the pumps. Currently, it has exceeded that amount by nearly $10,000 for the repair or replacement 31 pumps. The department expects at least another 10 will fail by the end of the year.

John Forslund, public works staff engineer, and Michael Spickelmier, public works director, were on hand to talk to the board.

Forslund said in 2006 the public works department had 15 calls to fix the pumps and 29 calls in 2007. And in that time the cost has jumped 130 percent.

Forslund asked the board to pay for $12,000 out of the district’s 2008 capital reserve fund to help in the cost.

County Counselor David Van Parys explained to the board why the increase would be over the whole district instead of just specific lots.

“Each individual grinder pump, while it serves a residence, it all pushes together to provide the pressure for the system,” he said. “It’s not as if one individual home could be charged for the full amount for that pump. They are all hooked together to provide the necessary pressure.”

Spickelmier doesn’t expect this increase to continue next year, but wasn’t certain of any other unforeseen increases in the future.

The board unanimously voted to proceed with the necessary steps to amend the budget, which will include an Oct. 16 public hearing on the budget amendment.

It also unanimously voted to move the necessary funds from to the public works department.

During the meeting the commission also voted, 2-1, to accept the resignation of Tim Goetz, special buildings director.

Goetz’s Sept. 30 resignation came a day after the commission brought him in for 65 minutes of executive sessions.

Van Parys said Goetz has agreed to provide all necessary information and answer any question during the interim period between the time of his resignation and the time his position was to be eliminated because of the reduction in force for the 2009 budget.

Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said that he would have a problem with continuing to pay Goetz for the remainder of the year.

Tellefson was the dissenting vote.

Oroke asked that the sheriff be in charge of securing Goetz’s former office and the board unanimously voted to transfer all responsibility of the special buildings office to the public works department.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Unanimously voted to spend $19,700 for new washers for the county jail.

• Unanimously voted to have chairman Clyde Graeber sign the three-year contract with Leavenworth Cleaning for janitorial services.

• Unanimously approved a contract with The Fagan Company for 10 new rooftop air conditioning units for 500 Eisenhower Rd.

• Unanimously voted to have the county clerk transfer funds from the RIF and TIF funds to appropriate public works funds in the amount of $50,000 road improvement and $100,000 from traffic impact fee.

• Named Commissioner Dean Oroke as the new liaison between the commission and HTKA architects for the construction of the new Leavenworth County EMS station.

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