Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2005

City makes unique utility investment

March 24, 2005

At first glance, the purchase authorized by the Baldwin City Council Monday night for a digger/derrick truck for the electrical department wasn't that odd, other than it's price tag of $162,452.20.

The truck is used for a variety of electrical uses, such as digging and placing power poles, as well as stringing lines and lifting transformers. It's a multi-purpose truck and will replace a 1991 model that can no longer lift some of the transformers now being used.

But the odd item was how part of the truck purchase will be paid for. Aside from the usual budgeted items, trade-ins, etc., it seems that the city of Gardner may be going to come up with $30,000 of the cost.

Gardner is dangerously low on the amount of electrical capacity it must have. With the addition of the new Baldwin power plant, the old one that's still operational and a new contract for outside power, Baldwin has extra capacity.

"We may be able to sell Gardner some capacity," said Council member Ken Wagner. "They're willing to pay $30,000 for that. The residents of Baldwin have invested heavily in the utility. We're able to leverage that with this."

As for the new power contract with the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA) for electricity from the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), it provides the city with an extension for 3,000 kilowatts of capacity and energy. The contract was originally signed in 2000 and was to expire in 2010. However, the company has offered to extend that through 2026. The council jumped on it.

"It gives us more flexibility," said Terry McKinney, director of utilities. "It's very economical power. Very few companies will give that long of a contract. They are working on a bond issue for a new power plant and that's why they're willing to do it."

The council approved both the purchase of the equipment and the contract by 5-0 votes. It wasn't the same with the purchase of a patrol cruiser for the police department. The purchase of a 2005 Impala to replace the 2001 model runs around $13,000 with trade-in and fleet discount. It was approved 4-1, with Brecheisen dissenting.

"I just hope we get done buying vehicles sometime," he said. "We've bough a lot of cars the last few years. I hope this is the end for awhile."

The rest of the council and City Administrator Jeff Dingman agreed. The city's fleet had deteriorated and the purchases were necessary to correct that and establish a better rotation for replacing cars, he said.

The council also had the second reading on the city's comprehensive emergency management plan that's been in the works for years. Council members had suggestions for fellow member Nancy Brown, who wrote the plan, at the first reading. She also explained that there will be continual updates to the plan as the city changes.

"Clarifications have been made," said Brown. "I know what it said, but others didn't. We added a flow chart and explained the acronyms."

The plan was again praised by the council.

"Baldwin City is the only city in Douglas County that doing their own emergency plan," said Council member Ken Wagner. "Thank you, Nancy, for all your work."

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