Fireworks, fencing at the dog park, and new trees on Ohio Street dominated Monday’s Augusta City Council meeting.
The first item of business for council members was a discussion on rejoining the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP). Marla Canfield and Shelley Hansel, representing REAP, presented the benefits to becoming a REAP member.
City Manager Josh Shaw reminded the council that Augusta was active in the organization for many years until 2013. Former Mayor Kristey Williams served as chairwoman of REAP in 2012.
Shaw explained that several factors led to Augusta’s exit from REAP, with the city in a transition period between city manager and staff asked that ancillary activities and organizational commitments be kept to a minimum until the transition was completed. Another factor was that the membership dues had grown to approximately $5,00 annually.
“There was a strong perception at the time that the cost was not worth it because the benefits to Augusta were not as tangible and the focus seemed to be geared toward Wichita,” Shaw stated.
Councilors were informed that REAP has revamped their dues structure, cutting membership costs nearly in half.
Canfield shared that additionally REAP membership provides a number of financial advantages concerning trainingopportunities offered to staff members and council officials throught Wichita State University.
Hansel stated that REAP’s focus is not solely on Wichita, but the entire region.
She stated, “It would be great if Augusta was on board.”
Other impressive benefits have also expanded to include membership to a government grant search service and participation in a joint-coop purchasing agreement with the City of Wichita. REAP also performs regional surveys that the City of Augusta has routinely utilized rates and other governmental services.
“I do know that Wichita Mayor Longwell strongly supports regional growth,” Mayor Matt Childers continued, “Does Council want to take action on this tonight or review the material and bring it back?”
City Manager Shaw advised that thousands could be saved in training alone and that it would be “interesting” to explore purchasing and grant opportunities.
“The surveys would also be extremely beneficial,” Shaw added.
Council approved the membership at a cost of $2,491. The cost will be paid out of Electric Administration Dues and Subscriptions in the 2018 Budget. $5,000 is budgeted in the line item and the past two years averaged about $2,700 in expenditures.
2018 insurance renewal
Madrigal & Welch and EMC have been the City’s insurance providers for a number of years and city staff has been satisfied with the level of customer service and their quick responses to claims. Madrigal & Welch regularly check with other providers to see if the city could receive better coverage and premiums.
City Clerk Erica Jones told the council members that the 2018 proposed insurance premium is a 2 percent increase over the proposed premium for 2017. The increase is almost entirely attributed to a general liability premium. In the last three years, the city has paid $76,705 in premiums for general liability coverage but have had $132,144 in claims. There has been $32,144 paid out in claims and $100,000 is being held in reserves related to an unresolved claim. As a result, EMC has increased the general liability premiums for 2018.
The city’s current policy with Travelers is being proposed for renewal in the amount of $78,506. However, Madrigal & Welch has recommended renewing the policy with Chubb Insurance Group for $79,641. Chubb insurance group’s premium is still under the 2017 amount and offers full repair/replacement in the event of a claim. They also provide preventative maintenance consulting and testing services free of charge that the city is paying for now.
Council approved the proposed premium, which comes in below the 2018 budgeted amount.
The flood insurance renewal premium is due for renewal in June and will be presented for approval when it becomes available.
Fireworks funding plan for 150th celebration
Council members unanimously approved the recommended funding plan in the amount of $7,500 for a fireworks show as part of Augusta’s 150th Celebration in September.
City Manager Shaw advised that the annual fireworks vendor was contacted and has been secured for September, provided funding is identified to pay for the show.
The annual Fourth of July fireworks show is paid out of the Administration Other Contractual Services line item, which also provides resources for the city’s website redesign and annual maintenance/hosting. Shaw explained that since the web design contract was not executed until 2018, $20,000 from the 2017 Budget was shifted into a project fund to pay for the first year costs of the new website. For 2018, the city has approximately $4,500 available in the line item to apply to a second fireworks show. Staff was recommending that the Council approve the line item going slightly over budget, which will have a negligible impact on the General Fund.
Final plat for Wildcat Crossing
Also approved was the Planning Commission’s recommendation to approve the final plat submitted for the Wildcat Crossing Addition located at 6713 SW 50th Street in the Growth Area. Ordinance No. 2130 reclassifying the zoning district for Lot 1 Block 1 of Wildcat Crossing was also approved.
Moving forward with Dog Park
City Manager Shaw informed Council that the new off-leash dog park in Meadowview Acres should be up and running before Memorial Day this year, and that staff has worked to implement the Pride and Progress initiative and the project has funding.
Assistant Cody Sims presented fence bids from multiple fence contractors, and was recommending a black vinyl coating on the chain link fence and a bid of $24,251.61 from Quality First Fence.
Councilman Tom Leffler had questions about the other bids and stated that powder coating the fence frame and rails would add durability.
The action was tabled, 7-0, to review the information and bring the item back for action next month.
The concrete bids for the dog park were considered, however, and Council approved $9,362 for concrete work on the curbing and removal of abandoned drive ways in the Meadowview Acres area.
In Saturday’s TG edition find out about the placement of new trees along the Ohio Street Project and a change order to the layout of the planned drive entrance near the new concessions facility in Garvin Park.