Final Chance Offered on County-City IGA

Councilman Crespin, Wilson, City Clerk Williams, Mayor Stagner, Councilman Ruedeman

An intergovernmental agreement proposal between the Lamar Redevelopment Authority and Prowers County that is almost two years, old got a last-minute breath of life at Monday’s city council meeting, August 22. Neither entity has been able to resolve their differences, mainly over a subordination clause included in the IGA which was proposed to the county by the Lamar Redevelopment Authority. The clause could put the county second in line to receive a portion of the property tax funds generated by improvements in the Urban Renewal Area designated by the Authority. That would occur if the Authority needed additional TIF funding, as security, to create and pay for any bonds developed by the Authority. If the Authority needed funding to make payments on the bond, and was short the needed monies, the Authority could default on payments to the county in lieu of the bond payments. That’s the sticking point with some Prowers County Commissioners. A similar clause in IGA’s between the Authority and School District has apparently been resolved, with the subordination clause remaining in the agreement. The Authority has agreed to backfill lost revenue to the school district. There is still an outstanding agreement between the Authority and Prowers Hospital District on a similar IGA and the council will wait for three weeks to receive an answer from the hospital board. The potential annual tax loss to the hospital district is around $2,000 should the Authority default on payments on future bonding.

The commissioners now have three weeks to agree to the final contract offer from the Authority. If, by September 12, there is no signed agreement from the county, there will be no IGA and no future shared funding from the TIF. Commissioner Gene Millbrand, who favors signing the IGA, was on hand for the council meeting, stating that he believed there may be some movement with the other two commissioners to view the IGA in a favorable light, which is why he was asking for an extension on the deadline. He also told the board he believes the hospital would be willing to follow suit if the county signed off and approved the IGA agreement.

The Holiday Inn Express Motel was being built at the time the Authority was organized and both city and county offered incentives in an economic package to the motel owners. This would be the first of what is hoped to be several future developments in the area, which encompasses most of downtown Lamar. Mayor Roger Stagner told the Redevelopment Board they should continue to offset the tax loss to the county for ten years, even if there is no IGA contract, to compensate for lost tax incentives both entities made to the motel developer when it was being built. The recent purchase of the Cow Palace Inn, and proposed improvements would also fall under future taxes which would be added to the Redevelopment Authority to help generate economic development in the community. Under advice of its lawyer, the Authority will reimburse the county for its share of the TIF generated from the motel in the Renewal District and not enter into an agreement for an intergovernmental agreement. Mayor Stagner echoed the sentiments of all parties in that the contract negotiations have been too costly and too long, and it was time to wrap up this matter one way or the other and move on to other city priorities.

Pat Mason, city sanitation director, said his department needs a used pick up truck. The Sanitation Department had budgeted $12,500 for a used model and selected Stagner, Inc. as the low bidder out of four bids submitted for a 2002 Super Duty F-250 costing $10,500. Mayor Stagner excused himself from the discussion to avoid any conflict of interest in the council’s vote.

The council set September 26, 2011 for a public hearing on an application for the annual Oktoberfest beer garden hosted by the Lamar Chamber of Commerce on city property. The festival will be held October 1st, from 11am to 10pm. Written permission is required before the application can be sent to the state for approval. Because of the tight timeframe between the hearing and subsequent application to the state, the state may not be able to reply in time for the garden to be approved.

An agreement with the Prowers County Clerk and Recorder was approved to allow her to act as the designated election official for the coordinated election set for November 1, 2011. The areas affected include each of the four school districts in the county, as well as the City of Lamar.

The Lamar Fire Department is adding to its life-saving equipment. A state EMS grant for the purchase of two automated CPR chest compression devices and two EZ-IO intraosseous drill kits was approved. According to Fire Chief Marshall Cook, the units will cost the city $27,542.50, but will be reimbursed half that, $13,772, later in the year. The equipment was approved in the city’s ambulance capital outlay program for 2011. The CPR unit can be adjusted to a person’s weight to precisely determine how much pressure is needed for optimum blood flow. Cook said the unit doesn’t get tired, unlike a human EMS responder, who would become fatigued after administering CPR for the duration of an ambulance trip to the hospital.

City Administrator Bill Pfeilsticker explained to the council, the need to change some of the city’s Fees and Rates Schedules for 2012. These include: creating a $5 notary fee per visit to the city clerk; extending burials to all day Saturday from a ‘mornings only policy’ with no change of fees; reinstating Flammable/Combustible Liquid Storage Tank Permits and charging $25 for an installation or removal permit; adding $0.25 to sanitation service and no changes for roll-off rates. However, $14 will be charged to pick up a trash tub when service is discontinued due to non-payment and a $20 fee to deliver a tub and to restart an account within 90 days subsequent to service being discontinued due to non-payment.

Lamar Librarian Debbie Reynolds suggested to the council that instead of discontinuing the Bookmobile as had been discussed by the city and county last week, to sell the current vehicle and purchase a more fuel-efficient model. The current model has been on the road since 1995 and is needs expensive repairs, including a $10-12,000 replacement  generator. Reynolds proposed downsizing to a newer, more fuel-efficient model at about $35,000. She said this would allow the library to maintain their outreach services in the county including homebound residents, nursery schools, pre-schools and nursing homes. The new computer lab equipment would also be transported to different Prowers County locations for classroom training. She said she would explore alternative funding beyond what is provided by the city, county and Friends of the Library. Reynolds told the council, the bookmobile is a viable alternative to area residents. “We had 1,223 patrons served in 2009, 1,309 in 2010 and as of July 31 of this year, 1,174 have used the bookmobile,” she stated. She added the bookmobile is more than just transport of books, but plays a vital role in the various outreach programs offered to county residents. On the 2012 budget, Reynolds said she’d devote next year’s library capital improvements to the purchase of a new vehicle. The council and Commissioner Millbrand said they’d postpone any decision on funding until they have a chance to review their respective budgets.

By Russ Baldwin




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