City, school district can’t reach agreement
Discussion between Baldwin City Council members and Board of Education members got a little heated at Monday's city council meeting.
There has been an ongoing disagreement between the Baldwin School District and the city over costs of building permit fees, water main improvements and the construction of a water tower at the site for the new elementary school in west Baldwin.
After Monday's meeting, the city council and the school board are no closer to reaching an agreement.
"It seems like there's not a whole lot of cooperation between the city and the school district," Council Member Ken Wagner said. "I'm disgusted with the way the city handled it and I'm even more disgusted with the way USD 348 handled it."
Included in the district's building fees are $152,000 worth of water main improvements, about $30,700 for additional water tower height and several thousands of dollars for building permits.
Supt. James White told the board at a previous meeting that he didn't think the district should be responsible for the entire cost of the water main improvements. He also said the district would like to have the building permit fees waived.
Council Member Marilyn Pearse said she thought the city should help pay for part of the water line to the new tower.
"I don't feel like it's the school district's responsibility to pay from the school to the water tower," Pearse said. "But I do feel it's their responsibility from the existing location to the school."
Other council members agreed with Pearse, but Council Member Ted Brecheisen said not everything should be waived.
"I'm not in favor of reducing permit fees," Brecheisen said.
Earlier site plans had the water line extending from 11th and Ames streets to the new school. New plans place the water line on the Baker Street alignment, which Utility Director Terry McKinney said would reduce the district's cost to around $64,000.
In the original site plans, the water tower was located on the northwest corner of the property, which is the highest piece of land. But the school board agreed to move the tower site farther south to improve the aesthetic value of the school.
McKinney said if the tower was moved back to its original location, the tower height and the pipe length needed would be less, which would save at least $60,000.
School Board Member Lonnie Broers said the district had other plans for the northwest corner and did not want to move the tower back to the original site.
Broers also said because the land was purchased by taxpayers, he didn't think the district could just give the land to the city for the water tower, but instead would need to sell the one-acre piece of property that is needed.
But the school's final site plans the council approved earlier in the meeting had a one-acre piece of property marked as an easement for the city's use for the water tower.
Broers said it was never the intent of the district to give the piece of land to the city and was planning to sell it for around $10,000.
Council Member Todd Cohen said he felt the district was not compromising with the city.
"It seems like we've been giving everything for nothing," Cohen said. "I think we've made a generous offer of cutting these fees down already."
Wagner said he agreed the district wasn't cooperating with the city and moved to pay the district $10,000 for the acre of property and enter into a time and material contract to bring water service to the school and keep all permit fees in place.
"We're arguing over an acre of ground," he said. "There is no give with these people."
The motion was defeated 2-3, with Council Members George McCrary, Cohen and Pearse voting against.
White said the school board will discuss the situation, including the acre of land and the water tower placement, at Monday's board meeting.
Pearse said she believed the city and district could reach a compromise.
"I still think we can work something out," she said.
In other business, the city council:
Approved in a 4-1 vote, with McCrary voting against, the bond financing for 8.2 megawatts of electric generation.
The city was originally going to purchase 3 engines for the 8.2 megawatts of generating capacity, but McKinney told the board the engines the city had looked at were not successful in duel fuel operations like the city uses.
He said the city could purchase two engines from Fairbanks Morse for $1.4 million each and have 6.33 megawatts of generating capacity to last through 2010. If not accepted now, he said the price for the engines would increase to $1.6 million to $1.9 million each.
McCrary said he thought the city should look into purchasing three engines, which would provide more than 9 megawatts of generating capacity that would last until 2015 to 2020.
Brecheisen said he wanted to purchase two engines, but didn't want to commit to three.
The resolution that was approved only specifies maximum generating capacity and not number of engines purchased.
Approved in a 5-0 vote bond financing for the two new water towers.
Approved in a 5-0 vote the final site plans for the new elementary school.
Approved in a 5-0 vote to participate in a bid for street and road repairs with Douglas County Public Works.
Heard requests from several Baldwin residents that live along King and Lincoln streets to reduce the speed limit along Third Street and post children playing signs.
McCrary said the requests will be addressed at the next public safety council meeting.
Met in executive session for 25 minutes to discuss pending litigation and land purchase.
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