City OKs loan application for automatic water meters

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April 19—Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance:

Here’s a quick rundown of what Great Bend City Council did on Monday night:

The agenda includes:

—Held a public hearing for the property at 205 Frey. After which the property was deemed unsafe and unsafe.

—Approved an ordinance granting a temporary extension of premises to Dry Lake Brewing to allow them to use the town lane lot behind the brewery for its first anniversary on May 14 and to serve alcohol on public property .

—Chosen not to proceed with the approval of the installation of a bicycle rack for Dry Lake Brewing and related amendments to the ordinance regulating the use and parking of bicycles and micro-mobility devices .

—Approved a rezoning request for Todd Anspaugh at 6003 10th St.

Anspaugh bought the real estate. The structure was operated as a business and Anspaugh requested a rezoning from C-2 (general commercial) to R-1 (single family) so he could move into the structure and live there permanently, the building inspector said. Logan Burns.

A public hearing was held on March 28 before the planning commission. Two parties raised concerns about land ownership, which the Planning Commission said was beyond its scope and functions and would not affect rezoning, Burns said.

—Approved a rezoning request for David Tabrizi at 1801 Patton Rd.

—Approved a rezoning request for Carole Harris at 1809 at Patton Rd.

—Approved a rezoning application for Keller Real Estate at 1815 Patton Rd.

—Approved a request for funding from RSVP/VIA Director Linn Hogg for the Medical Transportation Program in the amount of $3,000.

—Cinco De Mayo permissions approved. The event is set for Saturday, May 7, on the Place du Palais de justice.

—The expansion of Great Bend Alive Plaza on Forest Street.

—Approved an update to the Event Center notice board.

—Approved the expansion of a street chip seal project that was originally planned for 2021.

— Approved a bid from Venture Corporation for $1,079,640.50 for the plant and capping of approximately 13 blocks of Broadway between Polk and Morton streets, as well as the reconstruction of the intersection at 19th and Harrison.

– Authorized Mayor Cody Schmidt to sign the Kansas Public Water Supply Loan Fund Agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the Automated Meter Reading Project for the System city ​​water.

—Approved a request for unlicensed businesses to serve free alcohol on their premises for the Art & Wine Walk event held on May 6. It runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

— Heard a report from City Administrator Kendal Francis.

—Heard a report from Christina Hayes, Community Coordinator and Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

— Approved abatements for waste and garbage violations at: 806 Odell St., WHB Inc.; 812 Odell Street, Laurencio and Rosa Poblano; 501 Odell Street, Scott Thein; 313 Maple Street, Christopher Madrid; and

201 Chestnut St., Cecilia Obregon and Hector Lopez.

—Approved a reduction for a motor vehicle nuisance at 3137 Stone St., Elizabeth Hartshorn.

The Great Bend City Council on Monday evening authorized Mayor Cody Schmidt to sign the Kansas Public Water Supply Loan Fund agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the project automated meter reading for the city’s water system.

But “it was never decided if that’s something we were going to do,” said city administrator Kendal Francis. “It just guarantees funding if we decide to go ahead.”

Last year, the city council agreed to explore the installation of an automated meter reading system and approved a $2.2 million loan application from the KPWSLF to fund the venture. The request was approved in October 2021.

“Since then, we have held the documents pending the finalization of other KDHE requirements, which would then allow us to publish the project for tenders,” said city administrator Kendal Francis. “With the protracted delays, KDHE is asking us to finalize the loan agreement to secure the necessary funding.”

While that authorizes the loan, the city is only obligated if it withdraws funds, he said. “Essentially, he establishes a line of credit.”

The council has already authorized the city’s on-call engineering firm, Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita, to write the bid specifications, Francis said. These are nearing completion, so bids may be solicited in case the council wishes to act on the improvements.

The idea is to improve long-running problems with accurate and timely meter readings.

Last June, the council granted permission to apply for a loan through KDHE.

It will be a 20-year fixed interest rate loan with no prepayment penalty,” Francis said. Starting in March, the interest rate would be 1.3%.

Staffing issues and aging infrastructure have made timely and accurate readings of the city’s water meters a problem. A divided council last May authorized a hearing on the project.

The original plan was to tap federal funding from the U.S. COVID-19 stimulus bailout to buy the system. The city receives about $2 million; however, half of this money was pledged to a Great Bend economic development effort to encourage loft building downtown by helping to pay for the installation of a sprinkler system.

ARPA funds have been split into two allocations, with the second coming this spring. So, as a plan B, they planned to apply for the loan to cover the full cost.

Automated meter reading systems record usage and send readings via radio waves to a vehicle-mounted collector and computer system. These are then uploaded into the city’s billing software, and the whole city can be read in less than a day.

Manually, walking from meter to meter, a worker must read one meter every three minutes to get every meter read in a billing cycle. The city operates four billing cycles.

Now it takes about a week to read the value of a cycle of counters and a second week for follow-up readbacks.

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