Chetopa continued taking the necessary steps for changing its wholesale electricity provider early this month.
Beginning on June 1, the city-run power utility gets its electricity from the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency. Chetopa had been getting wholesale power from Liberty Utilities — Empire District Kansas, but the company had planned to raise its rates significantly after the city’s contract expired in May.
On June 2, the Chetopa City Council adopted an ordinance repealing an ordinance approved in May relating to electrical rates for customers. The original ordinance had an incorrect rate calculation formula. Chetopa customers will get about a 15% rate reduction with the new wholesaler.
The council also adopted an ordinance regarding utility customers’ solar energy systems. The ordinance, which was recommended by KMEA, adopted a rider outlining all aspects pertaining to renewal parallel generation and electric rate schedule of that generation. The ordinance also adopts interconnection standards for installation and operation of customer-owned renewable electric generation facilities.
The council had no further recommendations or corrections on utility installation charge distribution and planned to consider an ordinance for that in its next meeting.
In other business the council:
— Heard that Scherrill McConnell would be interested in filling a council vacancy. Although it was not announced at the June 2 meeting, Councilwoman Betsy Koontz resigned during this week’s meeting, citing health reasons. The city will inform the public of the vacancy to see if anyone else is interested in filling the position before the council appoints a new member.
— Agreed to proceed with a purchase of a new police vehicle for $30,000 or less. Police Chief Scott Feagan reported that the cost to install a new motor in a Dodge Charger would be $5,000 to $6,000. He said the Bank of Commerce would finance $30,000 for eight years at 2.5% interest for the balance of 2020 and then refinance for the 2021 budget. The options available to the police department were getting by the rest of the year with only three vehicles, replacing the motor in the Charger or buying a new vehicle.
— Tabled discussion on Ron Seaman’s offer to buy a lot next to Karla Seaman’s in the Hornet Addition to build a garage/shop. The council discussed the covenants that Chetopa-St. Paul USD 505 had recorded for the property before it was deeded to the city. The council then agreed to wait until attorney Robert Myers could check the records at the courthouse concerning the covenants.
— Approved the purchase of a turbidimeter for the water treatment plant at a cost of $1,407.80. Councilman Gary Bryant voted no.
— Heard Water Plant Supervisor Mike Tyler discuss the need for a vehicle to be provided for the water plant to use in the collection of water samples and to pull the sludge trailer. He also reported that he is performing a two-month study of using Hawkins products, which are less expensive than Brenntag.
— Heard from Mayor Tammy Bushong that a donation had been offered to help open the city pool. Councilman Carthen Nash also had heard an offer of a donation for the pool. Donations, however, would not solve the issue of not being able to certify lifeguards to work at the pool.
— Heard from Bushong that utilities could again be shut off for nonpayment.
— Heard from Bushong that a residential property on Delaware Street had bags of trash. Bushong also said someone had placed metal bridges across the ditches at Sixth and Mulberry. Feagan planned to look at the property on Delaware.
— Clarified that a charter ordinance regarding employee residency should allow people living within 10 miles of the city limits to be city employees. The original motion for the ordinance stated they must live within a 10-mile radius of the city.
— Agreed to allow City Supervisor Bryan Midgett to buy culverts through a Labette County purchase. Midgett originally had requested the purchase of culverts and bands totaling $2,648.70, but more could be needed.
— Instructed City Clerk Toni Crumrine to continue running an ad for a mowing position. No additional applications had been received. Feagan and Officer Travis Rakestraw volunteered to mow on their days off until a mowing person was hired.
— Agreed to allow Bushong to sign an engagement letter for an accounting firm to prepare the 2021 budget. Crumrine told the council she had notified department heads to start compiling budget items for 2021. She told council members to let her know if they have items they want added to the budget.
— Heard Feagan volunteered the police department to place flags on Veterans Bridge during holidays. The Chetopa High School National Honors Society sponsor had volunteered the club to place the flags, but there were only two NHS members who have driver’s license. Also, the NHS has a low membership, so it was asked if there would be any other organization that could place the flags.
— Met in executive session for 20 minutes to discuss nonelected personnel with Myers, Midgett and Feagan. Midgett attended the closed session for 10 minutes followed by Feagan for the last half. The council met in executive session again for five minutes to discuss nonelected personnel with Feagan and Rakestraw. Following the second session, the council agreed to raise Rob Darnell and Joey Midgett’s hourly wages to $15 retroactive to June 1. They had been making $14 and $13.75. Koontz had requested one of the executive sessions be added to the agenda after the meeting began.