CHETOPA — Chetopa utility customers will get a rate reduction on electricity beginning June 1.
In a May 5 meeting, the Chetopa City Council met with Darren Prince of the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency to discuss two electric rate options. Prince had complied information he had received from Debbie Darnell, utility bookkeeper/treasurer, and City Clerk Toni Crumrine.
The council chose an option that eliminates the range rate and will result in about a 15% rate reduction over what customers are now paying for electricity. The option also sets up a capital improvement fund for future infrastructure improvements and repairs.
The new rates will go into effect next month, when the city will begin getting its wholesale electricity from KMEA. The city has been working toward switching to KMEA for several months because Liberty Utilities — Empire District Kansas notified the city it would begin charging about $700 more per month if a new contract were signed. The Liberty contract expires on May 31.
In another issue in the May 5 meeting, Crumrine told the council that she had contacted Labette Community College concerning lifeguard training. Lifeguards for public pools must be certified in lifeguarding, CPR and first aid, and the certification lasts for two years. The Chetopa public pool had six certified lifeguards last year, but two have full-time jobs now, so even if all of the others wanted to lifeguard this year, the pool would still need to get more certified.
LCC usually trains area lifeguards at the two swimming pools at Labette Health’s CORE, but the pools have been unavailable because of the pandemic. Crumrine told the council she hadn’t heard back from the CORE regarding training. On Wednesday, Crumrine said the CORE was still unavailable, so the pool won’t be opened this year.
In other business, the council:
— Agreed to have the new first responder unit repaired. Shane Adamson, the city’s attorney, had planned to discuss repairs with the warranty company, which has refused to pay for them, but if the issue went to trial, it could be a while before the repairs were made. Feagan, who is also the Chetopa First Responders president, said the old truck would need repairs and tires soon if the new truck wasn’t put into service.
— Approved the closing of Walnut Street between Eighth and Ninth streets at 2 p.m. May 10, Mother’s Day, so people could drive by and see the residents of Chetopa Manor nursing home.
— Heard from Mayor Tammy Bushong that the public library had reopened too early to comply with Gov. Laura Kelly’s Phase 1 of the reopening plan.
— Heard from Councilwoman Geraldine Castle that grass was getting tall on several properties and from city staff that letters would be sent.
— Approved repairs to be done on the shock/strut assembly on a 2014 Ford police truck for $1,577.83.
— Heard that action on hiring a city helper was put on hold.
— Agreed to open the bathroom facilities at Veterans and Elmore parks. Councilman Gary Bryant voted no.
— Heard from Police Chief Scott Feagan that he bought two camera systems for about $1,000 that would be installed at the parks.
— Discussed fencing the area around the Neosho River bank that is eroding in Veterans Park. City staff planned to discuss it with City Supervisor Bryan Midgett the following morning.
— Approved a building permit for Michael and Marla Jones for a prebuilt 8-foot by 16-foot storage building on property at 830 Maple. The council also approved a permit for Joel Riddle to build a 10-foot by 20-foot addition and a 16-foot gazebo at 122 S. Ninth, pending Bryant’s approval. Bryant is the building inspector for the city.
— Agreed to allow Bushong to sign an engagement letter from Jarred, Gilmore & Phillips to perform the 2019 audit. Crumrine planned to contact the firm about assistance in the preparation of the 2021 budget because it was not included in the engagement letter.
— Heard that loud exhaust noise could be pursued in the standard traffic ordinance, that a letter had been sent about vehicles in a yard, that a property owner gave permission for the city to remove a mound of dirt, that the goats discussed earlier are kept in compartmentalized areas on the property and that Bryant would create a policy on expenses to be charged to residents and what will be paid by the city.