Archive for Wednesday, June 19, 2002

City, school reach agreement on fees

June 19, 2002

The Baldwin City Council and the Baldwin School District have finally come to an agreement.

After five weeks of debate, the city council approved permit and utility connection fees of $98,890 for the new elementary school and the Baldwin Junior High addition to be charged to the district in a 3-2 vote Monday night. Council Members Todd Cohen and Ted Brecheisen voted against the motion.

"I don't want to make this last any longer than it has to," Council Member Marilyn Pearse said.

The approved fees are considerably lower than the more than $200,000 originally charged to the district that included $152,000 worth of water main improvements, around $30,000 for additional water tower height and several thousands of dollars for building permits.

Supt. James White and school board members told the council at earlier meetings they believed the district wasn't responsible for all of the costs of the water main improvements, including the additional water tower height.

The city reduced costs by agreeing to pay for the water main from the new school to the new water tower. The city also looked at other options from which to extend the water main, including from 11th and Elm, that would cut district costs by $14,000.

In return for cutting costs, the council asked the district to move the site for the new water tower.

Original site plans for Baldwin's new elementary school had the water tower located in the northwest corner of the district's property, along U.S. Highway 56, on the west edge of town.

The school board decided earlier to move the tower farther south, away from the highway, for future building plans and aesthetic reasons.

If moved, the tower, which would sit on a higher piece of property, would not have to be as tall to achieve the same amount of pressure thereby reducing building costs.

Supt. White said the school board has decided not to move the water tower because the proposed space encroaches on the site of a future junior high.

"It continues not to be an option to the district to move that," White said.

Because the tower won't be moved, city staff recommended Monday that the district's fees be $115,890, which includes half the cost of the additional height needed to be built.

"I'm extremely disappointed the school district doesn't want to move the lot, but be that as it may, I don't feel the district should pay for the additional height," Pearse said.

Council Member George McCrary said he agreed with Pearse.

"Do we as a council feel comfortable charging the district for the additional height of the water tower?" McCrary said. "I don't feel comfortable allotting that fee to the school district for the additional height."

Mayor Ken Hayes said he did feel comfortable charging the district for additional height.

"For the record, I think the fees it should cost are directly caused by the school board to the city of Baldwin," Hayes said.

Both Cohen and Brecheisen said they also thought the city was reasonable in asking the district for paying half of the costs.

"I just think that we ourselves have come up with some type of proposal and they have not given back," Brecheisen said. "I've never really seen a proposal from the school except staying put."

Board President Ed Schulte told the council the district had worked with the city in finding a compromise.

"We have tried to work forward in a partnership. We've tried to work within the guidelines you had given us," Schulte said. "We tried to give the city the plot of land and the easements and everything we could. We have felt like we've done everything we've been asked to do."

The final district fees approved by the council did not include any expenses for additional water tower height.

In other business, the council :

Approved in a 5-0 vote to award an engineering contract for construction of the two new water towers to Larkin Group for $164,500.

Approved in a 5-0 vote to award an engineering contract to evaluate the impact of the proposed sewer benefit district to BG Consultants for $6,000.

Approved in a 5-0 vote the annexation of property on south 10th Street owned by Joe Salb.

Approved in a 5-0 vote the appointment of Cal Dickinson to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss litigation and the purchase of land.

After executive session, the council tabled any action on the purchase of property for the electric plant and public works facilities until the next meeting.

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