Council changes comes
It was changing of the guard time at the Baldwin City Council meeting Monday night. Well, sort of, anyway.
Recently elected Mayor Gary Walbridge and Council Member Doyle Jardon took their spots on the council, replacing Ken Hayes and Ken Wagner. But, the other two council members who were sworn into office by City Clerk Peggy Nichols were returning Council Members Tony Brown and Amy Cleavinger. They rejoined fellow Council Members Ted Brecheisen Jr. and Nancy Brown.
The swearing in ceremony occurred after the old council took care of one old business item. Then it was time for the change. Hayes presented Walbridge with a new gavel, a tradition that was started when Hayes took over four years ago. Hayes and Wagner were presented with plaques for their service and after shaking hands good-bye, the pair left.
"You guys did a good job," Walbridge said as they left the council meeting at the American Legion. "We're proud of you. Enjoy it."
"You bet we will," Wagner said.
The new council then went into new business. First up was electing a council president to serve in place of the mayor when he's not at meetings. Jardon nominated Brecheisen. After a silent pause, T. Brown nominated Cleavinger. It was decided to use a secret ballot to determine the winner. Cleavinger won by a 3-1-1 vote. T. Brown got a vote, too.
"It certainly is an honor to have my fellow council members select me for this position," said Cleavinger. "I had the privilege of serving with former council president Wagner, so hopefully I took advantage of that opportunity and learned a thing or two from Ken."
The council then approved numerous appointments to offices and committees while heading into a full slate of business. That included a plea from Donna Neidler from Friends of Baldwin City for that group's annual Fourth of July celebration.
"We've had the fireworks for the last four years," Neidler said. "We call it an Independence Day celebration because it's more than fireworks. We usually spend between $3,500 and $4,000. There are a handful, literally, of about 20 people who raise money for it every year. The city has donated every year."
After a small discussion, the council approved giving $500 to the group, up from the $300 donated a year ago.
The council also heard first readings on a pair of changes to fees charged by the city. The first changes the charge developers pay per lot in a subdivision for installing electrical infrastructure. In the past, there was a $900 fee, with $230 of that refunded once a resident owned the house. Also, there was a $350 charge for installing secondary service to the home. Under the proposed change, the fee to developers would be upped to $1,100, with no refund, and a $500 fee for secondary service. Chief reason for the change, according to Utility Director Terry McKinney, was increased costs in materials for installations.
The other change in charges involves the use of sewer rate averaging for new residents and makes the practice optional. In the past, new residents were charged the average sewer rate for the first 15 months until an average was established for their actual use. That was to allow new residents watering to establish a yard or garden or filling a pool not to be charged on the basis of water usage that doesn't impact the sewer system.
City Administrator Jeff Dingman explained to the council while that system is fair for most new residents with families, especially those using water in those ways, it wasn't fair to single newcomers who are renting an apartment.
The council also approved the purchase of an asphalt cold planer for repair or overlay from Heritage Tractor for $11,755.
The next regular city council meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., May 16, in the American Legion Hall.