Archive for Wednesday, February 23, 2000

News in brief

February 23, 2000

City sells generator, makes a profit

A $320,000 bid for a portable generator the city has had since 1997 was accepted by the City Council Monday night. The city stands to make $100,000 from the sale, which will be deposited in the capital improvement fund for future repairs on the city's generators.

"There would be an immediate cash gain for the electric utility," said city administrator Larry Paine about selling the generator. The city currently is paying $77,000 a year for the generator on a five-year lease. The generator cost the city $284,000 last spring, after the city had leased it for seven months.

Without the generator, the city's ability to generate its own power will be decreased from 5.5 megawatts to 4.9 megawatts. Neither wattage could generate enough electricity for the city during peak usage times in the summer. An additional 7.3 megawatts is available through contracted sources.

Utility director Terry McKinney said the portable generator was purchased to meet generating requirements when another generator was being repaired.

The sale of the generator will fund the replacement of a cooling tower at the city power plant.

The city is also planning to build a second substation to provide the city with more capacity and another source of electricity if the incoming feed is lost. The $4 million project needs to be completed by 2003, McKinney said.

Bond funding approved for power line upgrade

The council gave final approval to a $450,000 bond to fund the next phase of upgrading the city's electric distribution system and repair to an engine at the city's power plant.

The $350,000 electric upgrade to east Baldwin will begin next month. Mid Plains Power, Grand Island, Neb., completed the upgrade from 2,400 volts to 12,470 volts to west Baldwin last summer.

The bond will also fund a $40,000 repair of cylinder sleeves to one of the city's engines. The remainder of the $450,000 is required reserve funds and financing costs.

Mediacom agreement gains approval

A 10-year agreement with Mediacom to provide cable service to Baldwin was approved Monday by the council. The agreement was read at a council meeting for the third and final time, as required for the franchise agreement.

As part of the agreement, Mediacom has agreed to install and offer digital television services within 16 months and Internet access via cable modem within 24 months. Mediacom also agreed to keep a local office during the length of the agreement.

Electric utility preferences made

The council approved some language changes to city development code. The ordinance impacts the development of land by stating that underground electric service is the preferred method of development in new subdivisions.

Paine said the ordinance will make development of land a little more expensive, but that many developers are making that choice already.

Payroll service stays in-house

The city considered paying $3,000 annually to have an outside company process the city payroll. City clerk Peggy Nichols said using a company to process payroll would not save city staff any time, and the biggest benefit would be the tax liability falling on the company and not the city.

Council members decided payroll processing should remain in-house.

Police chief gets pay hike

Police chief Steve Butell was given a 70 cent an hour pay increase following his annual evaluation Monday night. The evaluation was held in executive session.

Nichols said his pay was increased from $19.67 an hour to $20.37 an hour just over a 3 percent raise.

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