The Council of the City of Augusta, Kansas met in regular session on February 19, 2013, with Mayor Kristey Williams presiding. Council present were Matt Childers, Michael R. Martin, Michael Huddleston, Michael Wallace, Sue Jones, Mike Rawlings, Ron Reavis and Matt Malone. Also present: City Attorney David All, City Manager Bill Keefer, Assistant to the City Manager Josh Shaw, Director of Public Safety Tyler Brewer, and City Clerk Erica Jones. Visitors present were: Kent Bush, Cale Magruder, Ken Brinkman, Gary Rogers, and Myrna Rogers.
Prayer: Pastor Steve Spencer, First United Methodist Church, gave the invocation.
Minutes: Rawlings made a motion to approve the minutes from the February 4, 2013 meeting. Reavis seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
February (2): Reavis made a motion to approve Ordinance 2 in the amount of $1,054,179.01. Rawlings seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Downtown Augusta, Inc.: Wallace made a motion to approve the closure of City Lake Road from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on March 30, 2013 for the annual April Fools Run. Rawlings seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Bugs Bunny Program: Wallace abstained from the discussion because he is a member of the Friends of Augusta. Malone made a motion to approve the request from the Friends of Augusta for $1,500 for the annual Bugs Bunny Program. Reavis seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Augusta Lion’s Club: Rawlings made a motion to approve the closure of several streets the afternoon of April 13, 2013 for the Augusta Lion’s Club bicycle clinic. Wallace seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Watering Restrictions: Council reviewed and discussed the City’s Watering Restrictions and related issues. Williams stated she received an email with the suggestion that the restricted watering be done by wards or zones. S. Jones stated it is time to consider the Adopt A Pot program and under the restrictions watering occurs two times a week for half an hour. Jones asked the council to consider changing it to four times a week for 15 minutes. She stated she realizes this is a deviation from what is allowed for the rest of the city, but the overall watering time is less than what is allowed throughout the city. Keefer stated it would also depend on what the restrictions are at that time. Rawlings asked if the downtown watering system is a spray or drip system. Keefer stated it is a spray system. Rawlings stated a drip system would be better to avoid overspray. Huddleston agreed. Williams stated no additional water would be used. Huddleston made a motion to approve changing the downtown pot watering to four times a week for 15 minutes each time. Wallace seconded the motion. Huddleston inquired about the watering of the trees downtown. Keefer stated they are on the same watering system as the pots. Motion carried with Reavis voting in opposition. Reavis stated the residents cannot water four times a week at their home and it would be a double standard to allow the city to water that many times.
Neighborhood Revitalization Plan: Council reviewed and discussed the City’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. Rawlings asked what would happen if this plan is approved now and then not approved next year. Keefer stated that anyone that applies up to the point it expires will remain in the program until their plan expires, but new applicants would not be allowed after the expiration. Huddleston asked if every taxing entity has to participate. Williams stated they do not. Huddleston stated it has caused definite improvements in his ward that would not have taken place otherwise. He stated he thought the original intent was to improve blighted areas but that it was expanded to be used as an economic development tool. Keefer agreed. Williams agreed that it has worked really well south of Kelly and quoted state statute saying the program should encourage development of blighted or older neighborhoods. Huddleston stated it is a good program and needs to be continued. Malone agreed that it has worked south of Kelly, but stated he has heard that it has hindered re-sale because people aren’t buying older homes when they can get the tax rebate on a house they can build. Malone stated he would support keeping it south of Kelly. Huddleston asked if it should be continued for commercial property. S. Jones stated her only concern about discontinuing it north of Kelly is that there are several homes in the 60-75 year range north of Kelly that are starting to show wear and tear. Keefer stated the program can be changed to exclude new construction. Williams stated staff also recommended possibly phasing the program out over the course of a couple of years. Malone stated he would like input from the builders and possible have a work session if any of them would be willing to come. Malone made a motion to schedule a work session at 7 p.m. on February 25th to discuss and get input from developers with regard to the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. Martin seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Stone Lake Estates Addition: Malone made a motion to approve the Consent to Assessment and Waiver of Assessment Proceedings from Augusta Developers for Lot 2, Block 5 of the Stone Lake Estates Addition. Rawlings seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Rawlings made a motion to approve Ordinance 2047 amending Ordinance 1920, revising and correcting the special assessments of certain property, and providing for the collection of such special assessments. Malone seconded the motion. Reavis inquired about lot 1. Keefer stated the developers understand that lot 1 will be part of a future development. Reavis inquired about where the utilities are currently with regard to lot 2. Keefer stated they run along Stonelake Drive and the south utility easement. Motion carried without opposition.
Schedule Public Hearing for 429 State Street: Wallace made a motion to schedule a public hearing for March 4, 2013 at 7 p.m. to consider a Waiver of Distance Limitations for 429 State Street as provided for in Section 3-306(b) of the City of Augusta’s Code of Ordinances. Childers seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Safety Department Patrol Vehicle Bids: Reavis made a motion to accept the bid from Don Hattan for a Chevy Tahoe in the amount of $23,137.50 for the Safety Department Patrol Vehicle. Childers seconded the motion. S. Jones inquired about the mileage on the trade in car. Brewer stated he didn’t have that information with him and would have to get back to the council on that. S. Jones inquired about the condition of the trade in vehicle. Brewer stated it is not in good condition and is having a lot of mechanical issues. S. Jones stated she was just wondering whether it would be worth keeping but that it doesn’t sound like it is. Malone asked how much more it would cost to equip the vehicle. Brewer stated we’ve been fortunate to be able to retro fit most of the items from the Interceptor with the exception of the cage and a storage compartment. Motion carried without opposition.
Water Line Repair: Keefer stated this will go along with the street project that was carried over from the 2012 Street Program. He stated a camera was run through the sewer line and that it was okay but a recommendation was made to replace the waterline. He stated he would like to move on with this so we can complete the street repairs the contractor has been holding off on. Keefer stated the bids on the one million gallon tank came back higher than the engineers estimate and that Willis Wilson is working with the low bidder to reduce the cost. He stated this will be an agenda item at the next meeting. Huddleston asked who came up with the $90,000 - $100,000 estimate for this work. Keefer stated it was staff and Larry Henry with MKEC. Malone made a motion to authorize the design and construction of a replacement waterline between High and 12th Streets. Reavis seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Butler County Solid Waste Committee: Reavis made a motion to appoint Jeremy Drake to the Butler County Solid Waste Committee. Huddleston seconded the motion. Motion carried without in opposition.
Attorney General Settlement: Council reviewed and discussed a proposed settlement agreement with the Attorney General’s office. Wallace stated he was not happy that in order to sign the agreement the council has to admit guilt. Mr. All stated the only thing that is being admitted is that the wording of the motion was not correct. S. Jones stated she was not signing the agreement as is because it does state that the council is admitting guilt. She stated that if the council did nothing wrong why they would be threatened with future prosecution. Huddleston stated the agreement stated it was based on an investigation by the Attorney General’s office, but that no one spoke to him, he never saw a complaint or the email that was sent regarding the complaint. Huddleston stated he is not signing this agreement either. He stated he tried to contact the Attorney General and received an email saying they would not respond to an email or message from a council member. Huddleston stated he doesn’t see where this draft of the agreement is really any different from the original agreement. Williams stated they removed quite a bit from what was included in the original agreement. She stated she does not have a problem with the proposed agreement and asked Mr. All what would happen if only some of the council signs the agreement. Mr. All stated he hadn’t discussed that possibility with them but that he thinks they want the entire council to sign the agreement. Williams stated the only left in the agreement is that we admit we made a technical error. Wallace stated the original complaint was that we didn’t have the authority to go in to executive session, but that the investigation showed that we did. He stated the technical violation has nothing to do with the original complaint.
Rawlings asked the council if they want to push this issue to the point where it could be a half million dollar lawsuit that would end up costing the taxpayers. Huddleston stated it would not be half million dollar lawsuit. Mr. All stated it would probably end up with a fine. Williams stated she does not want to drag this out or get on the bad side of the Attorney General. She asked what the council thought about the agreement specifying that the only violation was that the motion did not list where the council would convene after the executive session. Wallace stated his concern is that we are limiting our future over something that we didn’t do. Huddleston asked if the council could have a meeting with the city attorney to resolve their questions to their satisfaction. Williams asked why item #2 was included in the agreement when it wasn’t even a problem. Wallace stated the resolution doesn’t even address the original complaint. Childers stated these are guidelines that are used as guidance for other entities about violations. Wallace again stated that he was not going to admit to anything because the council did nothing wrong.
S. Jones stated she had issues with item 5b, item 7, and item 8. She stated item 7 is the item that she will not sign the agreement for because she does not agree with it. She also referenced item 8 and that council agrees to bear costs. Mr. All stated that means that they city would bear the cost of litigation. S. Jones stated as long as item 7 is in the agreement she will not sign it. Huddleston stated he doesn’t feel that the council has had a good attorney-client relationship, especially in regard to this issue. He stated the Attorney General’s office would not speak to him because of attorney-client privilege. Mr. All stated that they will not speak to anyone individually that is a potential subject for litigation, that she would only speak to their attorney. Huddleston stated he was not sure what her intent is but that she came out full force. Mr. All stated that he has said before he doesn’t know why we are still talking about this issue. Williams asked if it would be appropriate to talk to the Attorney General himself. Mr. All stated she said she would talk to him about these proposed changes.
Williams asked about inserting a phrase in item 7 listing the specific violation. Mr. All stated he told the Attorney General’s office that there are these types of mistakes in municipalities all over the state, but that they only respond to complaints and when investigating the original complaint they went through several of the city’s minutes and found this specific technical violation of not listing the place the council would reconvene after an executive session was consistent. Huddleston stated there was no substantive violation of KOMA here. He stated as heavy handed as they are being he would rather work with the District Court Judge instead of this woman from the Attorney General’s office. Wallace stated he thought we could make a counter offer that we are going to attend the KOMA training and be diligent in not making this same technical error in the future.
Reavis stated he thinks we need to pick our fights. He stated we did have a technical violation and that is what this agreement states. Huddleston stated that is not what item 7 says. Wallace stated that was not part of the original complaint though. Reavis stated he doesn’t see what the big deal is. S. Jones stated item 7 is the big deal. Wallace stated to him it is worth fighting for. Reavis stated the council has already admitted to a technical violation and that the Attorney General is agreeing not to prosecute us for that violation. Williams agreed with Reavis but stated she does see S. Jones’ point. Childers asked what the council would think if item 7 stated the council admits specifically to the technical violation that was made instead of being vague and saying “these admissions”. Williams agreed that changing the wording of item 7 would be appropriate.
Mr. All stated he feels the Attorney General’s office is just being generous and it didn’t come across that way in the agreement. He asked the council what they want the Attorney General to agree to. Rawlings stated rewording item 7 to say “In consideration of the one technical violation”. Huddleston stated it should list the specific violation. Mr. All stated he agrees with the council that there isn’t an actionable violation here. Huddleston asked what would happen if there is a future violation if the council agrees to item 6c and would they come back to us on this one. Mr. All stated it would only apply to future violations because item 7 is stating they will forgo prosecution for this violation. Williams asked the council if they would be in favor of making the changes to item 7 and if so would they sign the agreement. The consensus of the council was that they would. Williams stated item 5a should be more specific and list the specific technical violation of not identifying the place for reconvening. Huddleston stated there was no intent from anyone on the council to violate KOMA and that he has a problem with signing an agreement if it includes an admission of guilt. Wallace stated the council is personally liable. He stated he welcomes an investigation because we have an open forum here. Mr. All stated he will inquire about the changes and what would happen if not everyone on the council wants to sign the agreement. Williams stated she would rather the council not continue to waste any more time on this issue.
Wallace: Wallace stated he will not be able to attend the scheduled KOMA training on February 28th. He stated he could go to the County Attorney’s office for the training or since he has six months from the time the agreement is signed he could take it somewhere else too.
Williams: Williams asked if there is an update of the proposed State legislation to reclassify trade fixtures as personal property. Keefer stated he hasn’t received any updates at this point in time. He stated that this didn’t go anywhere when it was brought up previously. Williams asked Keefer to contact David Crum to inquire about the status of that.
S. Jones: S. Jones inquired about the Electric Department camera situation. Keefer stated he could not give a reason why the cameras were not connected to the Safety Department. S. Jones asked if anything was stolen. Keefer stated there was but they have been unable to determine what it was. He stated they are looking at other option concerning the security cameras and how to connect those to the Safety Department.
S. Jones asked staff about why we do not have a timeline for the playground equipment for Garvin Park. Shaw stated he is unable to give dates at this time and if he did they would be made up dates. He stated staff will be ready to present the agreements at the next council meeting but that they are waiting for information from the State regarding the requirements of the grant. He stated if a Disadvantaged Business or Davis Bacon Act are requirements it will require extra work and the bidding process will be more extensive. He stated it may have to be broken into two projects, one for the playground and one for the parking lot. Shaw stated that he and Parks Foreman Brian Alfaro met with a playground equipment vendor. He stated they asked for him to provide three conceptual drawings for the playgrounds that can be presented to the public for input. He stated staff understands that this is a priority for the council. Rawlings inquired about the location of the equipment. Shaw stated it would be at the end of the walking path at the cul-de-sac by the pump house. Rawlings stated that would be perfect to get it out of the flood zone.
S. Jones inquired about the pay grade comparison. Keefer stated that Angela Casper is about 99% done with the comparison and staff is ready to review it. He said he anticipates it to be included on the March 4th council agenda.
S. Jones asked if the council is going to talk about the downtown design codes. Williams asked if the council wants to have that as an agenda item at a meeting or added to the work session next Monday. Wallace made a motion to add the discussion of the suggested changes to the downtown design codes to the work session scheduled for February 25th. S. Jones seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Childers: Childers stated he received input from citizens concerned about the length of the 30 mile per hour zone west of town. Keefer stated that Wal-Mart worked with KDOT on that and that is under the control of KDOT not the city. Childers asked how often the speed limits around the schools are reviewed. Keefer stated they are 30 miles per hour like all other residential areas, except when the school zone lights are flashing. Childers inquired about the use of the school zone lights during the lunch hour. Keefer stated those were shut down last fall at the request of the school district.
Rawlings: Rawlings thanked S. Jones for keeping the council’s feet to the fire with the playground equipment at Garvin Park.
Huddleston: Huddleston inquired about the February report for the Levee Project and stated that the last item on page three said a site evaluation investigation was done to determine the source of oil contamination. He asked what the source was. Keefer stated there was several monitoring wells along Dike Road on the back side of the levee due to a major pipeline break back in the 1980’s. Huddleston asked if staff has seen the investigation report. Keefer stated he doesn’t recall getting a report on this but that he would check with them.
Malone: Malone asked if staff had anything to report on the streaming and archiving of the council meetings. Shaw stated he thinks he will have something for the council to review at the next meeting.
Reavis: Reavis inquired about the engineering services agreements for the Walnut River diversion and El Dorado water line projects and asked what the cost of the engineering is for each of those projects. Keefer stated the $2 million estimate is for both and he couldn’t say the breakdown offhand. Reavis stated he doesn’t want to hold off on the water line project. He stated he is not in agreement that the Walnut River diversion is a legitimate solution to our problem. Keefer stated that Willis Wilson has it broken down into two separate projects. He stated that staff is going to be meeting with the city’s bond counsel and financial advisor later this week, weather permitting, to discuss funding options so we can adhere to the cash basis law. Williams stated it was the consensus of the council to do both projects simultaneously. Reavis asked if we would have the money to do the water line versus the river diversion. Keefer stated we don’t have the money or plan for any of that at this time. Malone asked Keefer if he has heard anything more from the State regarding a wholesale water contract. Keefer stated Wilson is getting close to getting that information together. He stated he is not sure of the time frame though. Reavis asked if it was decided at the meeting he missed that we would go ahead with the Walnut River diversion. Williams stated it was. Keefer stated it was a work session and that no official action had been taken to move forward with it. Keefer stated as we move forward with both we may have to have a rate increase as noted last fall as part of the sales tax election and issue temporary notes to pay for the engineering.
Martin: Martin stated there is a pipe laying out in the field south of Hwy 54 east of town and asked if the contract is working on getting that done. Keefer stated they are and it should be complete by the end of March.
Adjourn: At 8:42 p.m. Reavis made a motion to adjourn. Wallace seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.