David Dillner, El Dorado City Manager, shared statistics from the City of El Dorado's fourth-quarter financial report for the year 2017 at the city commission meeting on Monday, March 5. The report has not yet been audited.

"Overall, the city maintains a cash balance at year-end of about 8.4 million dollars and is adequately positioned to meet the financial needs of the city's operations," Dillner said.

The report showed that, on a cash basis, the general fund ended the year with a cash surplus of approximately $8,500. The city's financial statements, however, are produced using generally accepted accounting principals and show a deficit of $270,538. This is due to new equipment and vehicles being added to fixed assets and the city accounting for depreciation of fixed assets. The general fund's cash balance at year-end is $1.5 million and does not meet the current minimum fund balance requirement of $1.3 million. The general fund is trending in a direction that will allow the minimum cash balance requirement to be met in a year or two.

"The city received 2.4 million dollars from retail sales tax collected in '17. That was compared to 2.5 million dollars for the prior year. So, we're about 100,000 dollars less than 2016, and that's with all of the events that we had this past summer: Drums Across Kansas, Shrine Bowl, et cetera. So, unfortunately, for whatever reason, sales tax numbers were down a little bit," Dillner said.

A breakdown of balances, revenues and expenditures for other city funds were given at the meeting as well. The information in the report will likely be audited by early June.

Earlier in Monday's meeting, the board of city commissioners allocated a portion of the liquor tax monies in the special parks and recreation fund to the Sunlight Children’s Advocacy and Rights Foundation (SCARF) and the Family Life Center. During 2017, the City of El Dorado received $80,347.86 in liquor tax revenue; $40,173.94 was put in the general fund and $40,173.94 to the special parks and recreation fund. One-third of the revenue allocated to the special parks and recreation fund, $16,228.54, is for the liquor tax program. Of that amount, SCARF will receive $4,500, and the Family Life Center will get $11,728.54. The city annually distributes money to nonprofit organizations like these through the collection of liquor taxes. The money can only be distributed to organizations that assist children who are victims of domestic violence.

The board of commissioners also reallocated money in the excess sales tax fund to the El Dorado Elks group. The Elks lodge had received allocations from the 2015 and 2016 Excess Sales Tax Committees for the construction of a new building on Haverhill Road. The 2015 allocation was for $30,000, and the 2016 allocation was for $25,000 – a total of $55,000. The 2017 Excess Sales Tax Committee recommended to the city commission that the money already allocated to the Elks be reallocated in 2018 if they had not moved forward on the construction of the building on Haverhill. The reallocated money, $55,000, would now go toward the purchase of a building downtown on Pine Avenue. The lodge plans to make repairs to the upper floors of the building.

Public Utilities Director Kurt Bookout addressed the board to recommended and explain a cross connection fee increase. The city's cross connection program is mandated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and enforced by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. It ensures that El Dorado's water system is not contaminated.

"We haven't made any major changes to the program in 20 years. These are just some revisions to help us get to compliance. We've got about 90-percent compliance right now," Bookout said.

In order to motivate the other 10 percent of El Dorado's citizens to be in compliance with the cross connection program, Bookout suggested adjusting some fees. The increase is not an increase in rates – just in the fee that people will be charged for failing to maintain a backflow preventer by not having it tested every year. The testing would be done by a third party – not the city. The board of commissioners approved the fee increase; city code now requires what's entailed in the following paragraph:

Testing intervals shall not exceed one year beginning with testing on the date of installation of the assembly. If the assembly is not tested as of July 1 of the current calendar year, a $20 per month late fee for all meters 5/8 inch to one-and-a-half inches; a fifty dollar $50 per month late fee for all meters two inches to four inches; and a $100 late fee per month for all meters greater than four inches, will be added to the water bill for any report not received.

The board of commissioners then approved a fats, oils and greases ordinance.

"As we continue to try and make our sanitary sewer systems more reliable and also less susceptible to backups during rain events [and] flood events when water infiltrates into our sewer system, we need all that capacity. There are places in town where eight-inch pipes are really four-inch pipes because grease has accumulated on the walls, decreasing the volume that that sewer can transport. And so, that causes massive sewer backups, and you're losing a lot of the capacity in your sewer system," Bookout said.

The ordinance mandates that food service establishments in El Dorado have functional, maintained grease traps. It also requires the establishments to report when the traps are pumped, which is typically done every 90 days by companies that do that kind of work.

"There are some areas of town that are downstream of, typically, fast food restaurants where we're getting lots of grease accumulation. It's difficult to remove, and it causes problems for the businesses, too. So, we're just trying to be proactive and make sure we're taking care of the sewer system," Bookout said.

According to the ordinance, violators will be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor punished by a fine of up to $1,000 or by imprisonment of up to six months – or both. Yet, there are a few steps that the city's public utilities department would usually take in response to violations before getting to that point. Bookout mentioned he knows of only three restaurants that potentially don't have grease traps.

Next, the board of commissioners approved a change in city code concerning the allocation of municipal court fees. The $5.50 previously allocated to local community groups will now be allocated back to the police/court departments. That amount averages $6,000 total per year and could be used to purchase new equipment for the Brazos program, training equipment or other supplies.

Additionally, the board approved paving Oil Hill Road and Rocky Road from Haverhill Road to the turnpike. BG Products had presented a petition for the paving. The total cost of the project is $734,405.76. The costs assessed to the improvement district will be $505,562.94, and city-at-large costs will be $228,842.82. The total cost of the project will be bonded, allowing the improvement district to pay off the debt over a 20-year period.

Afterward, board of commissioners approved the removal of "no parking" signs on the east side of the 100 block of North Residence Street. The current owners in the neighborhood are requesting those signs be removed, and the city determined that the signage is no longer needed.

The board approved a facilities lease agreement with USD 490 for use of McDonald Stadium and the East Park Softball Complex. The school district will pay the City of El Dorado $1,000 annually to have games and practices at the ball fields.

At the start of the meeting, Mayor Vince Haines proclaimed this week as severe weather awareness week. Multiple members of the El Dorado Main Street organization followed the proclamation with a presentation on Main Street's highlights in 2017. The group shared that they'll pay curator and conservator Victor Rose to clean the outdoor sculptures this spring or summer.

In the reports segment of the meeting, Dillner shared that Nelson Koehn retired from the refuse division of the city's public works department after 33 years of service. On different note, city commissioner Kendra Wilkinson announced that the First Presbyterian Church of El Dorado will offer an active shooter intruder discussion with El Dorado Police Chief Curt Zieman and one of his officers on Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. Commissioner Matthew Guthrie stated the city is currently taking applications for summer jobs in the parks and recreation department.