Archive for Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Water tower splits council, district

May 22, 2002

Plans for a new water tower at the site of the future elementary school are causing some disagreement between the Baldwin City Council and the Baldwin School District.

Included in the district's building fees are water main improvements at a cost of around $152,000 and about $30,700 for additional water tower height.

Supt. James White told the council Monday night that he didn't think the district should be responsible for the entire cost of the water main improvements.

"We feel you're trying to improve the water system on the backs of our school children and our budget," White said.

Assistant Utility Director Bill Winegar said the costs for improvements include fire hydrants, valves, fittings and 4,300 feet of 12-inch pipe that would extend from 11th and Ames streets to the proposed school site and on to the water tower, which is on the west edge of the district's property.

Winegar said there is no engineering or design fees incorporated into the district's fee.

"We don't think these are unreasonable. I think it's a fair number for the project," he said. "We're going by the book on this. It's like we'd require any other developer to do."

White said the district was prepared to pay the cost to place the line to the school, but not past it to the water tower.

"It's hard for us to understand how you design a water tower for the community but with us having to build it all," he said.

School Board member Lonnie Broers said the city had not discussed placing a tower on the property before this year.

"Why now are you expecting us to pay for a water main from Ames all the way to the water tower?" Broers asked the council. "You didn't talk about the tower before the bond issue."

Utility Director Terry McKinney said there hadn't been a need for a water tower at that location until the new elementary was approved for that site.

The elementary school, McKinney said, would have inadequate water pressure without the new tower.

Broers said the district was not responsible for all of the costs because the city would benefit from the tower as well.

Council Member Marilyn Pearse said there would be some rural school patrons benefiting from the new tower and not having to pay for it if the city was responsible for the costs.

"Everybody in the city is a taxpayer for the district. Not everybody in the school district is a taxpayer for the city," Pearse said. "What (the district) works from is a much larger base than what the city works from.

"I just don't see how it's fair that the citizens in the city have to bare a larger portion of it than the citizens who live outside the city," she said.

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, saving at least $60,000.

Council Members Todd Cohen and George McCrary both said they think some agreement could be worked out between the city and the school district.

"We're at a point at making this a win-win situation," McCrary said. "I understand these costs, but if we could somehow reduce this down for the district."

The council will address the issue at the next meeting after reviewing the district's plans and figures. The district will also be looking at other options.

In other business, the city council:

Moved the June 3 council meeting location to the Baldwin City Public Library.

Approved by a 5-0 vote the appointments of Larry Franc and Danny McMillen to the Planning Commission and Franc and Mark Shuck to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The council is still looking for people to fill two positions of the Board of Zoning Appeals and one position of the Library Board of Trustees.

Approved by a 5-0 vote to give $250 to Citizens for Baldwin City for the July 4 fireworks display.

Heard a presentation from Greg Wright, agent from Energy Management Group, about Baldwin's opportunities regarding future sales of generation electric power.

Wright told the council the city could enter into an agreement with EMG, and EMG would act as Baldwin's agent in the selling of its generation.

Met in executive session for 40 minutes to discuss personnel and land acquisition.

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