Lamar Landfill Fees Surprise Wiley, KVAY Requests Relocation Funds


City of Lamar

The Lamar City Council, sitting as the Lamar Redevelopment Authority Board, met on Monday evening, December 23, prior to the regular council meeting to discuss a funding request from KVAY Radio in Lamar. 

KVAY, 224 South Main Street in Lamar, is relocating to the recently purchased former Main Café at 114 South Main Street.  Shawna Hodge, Executive Director of Lamar Partnership Incorporated, told the board the station owners are asking for assistance for rehabilitating the building and roof, sewer replacement, architectural assistance and grant administration.  The request comes to $71,804 against total construction costs of $356,507.  The City and Lamar Partnership Incorporated are being asked to contribute $5,050 with in-kind services for sewer work and grant administration.  The moving date to the new location is estimated at February 28, 2014 pending the approval from the Authority Board.  Plans for the new location call for the announcer’s booth to be situated in a window at street level so employees can be viewed and heard during their broadcasts.  KVAY General Manager, Debbie Ellis, said the project benefits are that this will be the first historic rehabilitation for a downtown business to its earlier presentation with minor modifications and “With the DJ in view, it will enable them to bring life to the downtown area.”  Ellis remarked that the announcers could describe activities on Main Street such as watching the mayor walk by or mentioning motorcycle traffic during the annual gathering of bikers in Sturgis or annual downtown activities.  The Board approved the request out of the 2014 Redevelopment budget, pending approval of a written rehabilitation and development proposal. 

The council was approached by Alex Campbell, Mayor of Wiley and owner/operators of DW Waste Removal, speaking against the recently increased city landfill fees approved by the council.  Campbell said, “The rates have gone up from $7 per cubic yard of compacted trash to $16.25.  We weren’t notified of the increase until we got a letter recently, and as we’ve already set out 2014 budget, this is a shock to the town.”  Campbell added that Wiley has no business sector from which to generate sales tax revenue.  “Almost all of our residents work in Lamar and spend their money there, so we’re pretty vital to your economy,” Campbell explained.  He said that water rates are increasing next year because a new water tank has to be bought and there’s no leeway in the community’s annual budget of $200,000 to make allowances.  The owners of DW Waste Removal said they too are now at a financial deficit by the increased landfill fees, citing that they need to adjust their fees by $23,000 for the year and stand to lose some customers by the rate hike.  Joel Woelk stated, “We’ve worked too hard to see our business go under with just a one-time price increase!”  Pat Mason, City Public Works Director, explained that the Lamar landfill is operating on a deficit, “We had to increase our rates as we’re opening up a new cell at the landfill.  As it is right now, we aren’t making enough at the gate to pay the salaries of the landfill staff.”  Administrator Sutherland said a meeting will be arranged with all involved parties in the near future to see if some form of accommodation is available. 

The last Lamar City Council meeting consisted of some routine procedures as one year wrapped up and the new one began.  The new lease agreement between the city and Sage Services for use of the kitchen and dining hall at the SOS Center on East Olive Street is identical to 2013 and was approved for three years, expiring on January 1, 2017. 

Rick Akers, director of the Lamar Parks and Recreation Department received the requested $12,400 to replace the current outdate software to assist in scheduling events, registrations, membership and league management as well as online registrations and payment of fees.  The low bid from three received was for the $12,400 and the city’s IT department has determined that the software is compatible with city technology.  The Recreation Department and swimming pool staff will use the new software package. 

A public hearing was held for the adoption of the city’s supplemental budget for the current year, ending on December 31.  Following the hearing, a resolution was passed by the council for appropriating funds to defray expenses in excess of the budget for the city in 2013.  The areas impacted were the Building Finance Corporation, Water and Wastewater Fund, Sanitation Fund and Self Insurance Fund. 

The Public Utilities Commission mandates that water deposit interests rates to be reviewed and updated.  Lamar’s is unchanged for 2014 at 0.34%.  This is the percentage paid on customer utility service deposits.  The policy for the city states that no interest will be paid on customer deposits for the first 90 days after a new account is opened. 

City Administrator, John Sutherland, briefly outlined a Memorandum of Understanding between the Prowers County Department of Human Services and the city.  The county will send eligible workers to the city for some on-the-job-training and work experience with city employees.  “We won’t be displacing any employees,” he said.  City department heads will interview the new employees and provide them with an opportunity to learn duties and a work experience.    

The council adopted a revision in the lease agreement language for airport hangars at the Lamar Municipal Airport.  City Public Works Director, Pat Mason, said the revisions, “put some teeth into penalties for delinquent payments” and clarifies some rules of operation.  He said the Airport Board members were in favor of the modifications.  Administrator Sutherland reminded the gathering that Lamar Deputy Fire Chief, Pat Leonard will be retiring after 35 years of service to the community.  Sutherland said Leonard will be honored with a special gathering on January 3 with more details available to the community later in the month.  He added that city offices will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Becky’s Restaurant in the Village Shopping Center will host the city council’s informal breakfast meeting from 7 to 8am on Wednesday, January 8.

By Russ Baldwin



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