Lamar Council Considers PMC, Spreading Antlers Requests

Lamar Police Chief Kyle MillerThe Lamar City Council took no action during their work session Monday, March 9,  on  requests for financial support from two entities, Prowers Medical Center and Spreading Antlers Golf Course.

Prowers Medical Center had requested a waiver of $54,000 in building permit fees for its pending construction project, estimated at $7,595,000.  The construction is expected to take 18 months for completion and PMC Chief Executive Officer, Craig Loveless, approached the council earlier this year, requesting consideration on the costs of the permit.  The plan review will cost an additional $12,000 for a consulting engineering firm.

The council held earlier discussions on the permit request, and researched any past similarities of granting reductions or waivers, either to PMC or High Plains Community Health Center for any prior construction projects.  There was no record for either facility, although the city has provided water taps to High Plains several years ago.  The city’s Engineering staff and Water Department have already provided some assistance to PMC in the construction planning process.  Councilman Kirk Crespin, said he would like to have the city provide some assistance to the hospital, but was mindful of developing a ‘slippery slope’ for future, similar requests from other building projects that might approach the council.  “I’d like to help and I think it would be good for the city if we could help, but I don’t know if the fee reduction would be the best way to go about this,” he stated.  Mayor Roger Stagner expressed concern about the mounting cost of in-kind services over the life of the project, specifically for Building Inspector, Bobby Ward’s time spent at the project site.  The council directed City Administrator, John Sutherland, to continue to meet with hospital officials before the next council meeting, to see if there were some other areas in which the city could assist PMC without a direct reduction of the building permit fees to the city.

Sutherland addressed the next work session item, a request from Spreading Antler’s Golf Club for $15,000 to help pay down a loan for a replacement irrigation system at the golf course.  The Administrator provided some historical context for the city’s involvement with the Golf Club.  The City of Lamar owns the golf course which it leased to the Lamar Elks Lodge, which, in turn, is sub-leased to the Spreading Antlers Country Club, Inc.  There are no past records from the city that offer specifics into the annual payment agreement, although Sutherland pointed out the city has helped provide funds, equipment and personnel to help maintain  the operation of the golf course over several years and will continue to help provide resources in years to come.  Earlier discussions on financial assistance were apparently conducted in a work session, for which no records are kept, as a matter of course.

The city has issued a draft of a five-year agreement between the city and the golf club before any additional financial support is offered, although the first quarter payments for the loan on the irrigation system have been made.  There are some points of negotiation on the contract that need to be ironed out.  Mayor Stagner said he and Rick Akers, Lamar’s Parks and Recreation Director, will meet with club officials to discuss those areas which include appointing a council member who would have voting privileges on the club’s board.  That would involve a change of the club’s by-laws.  The city is also proposing the club hire a consultant to assist in developing long term plans for the continued success of the club in the Lamar community.  The council will consider any changes to the agreement at a future meeting.

Lamar Police Chief, Kyle Miller’s position became official with his swearing-in ceremony and oath of office, presented by Mayor Roger Stagner.  Miller has been interim police chief since earlier this year and joined the city’s police force in 2004.

In other news, the council approved a services agreement with SAFEbuilt Colorado, LLC to review construction plans for the expansion and renovation of Prowers Medical Center, set to get underway with an early April groundbreaking. Because of the size, scope and complexity of the project, Lamar’s building official recommended employing SAFEbuilt as a consulting engineer for a fee of $12,000.

A $300 contract for a performer known as Mr. Kneel who will entertain during the Lamar Library’s 2015 summer reading program was approved.  He will appear during the program at the library on Tuesday, June 2 at 10am.

An increase in ambulance billing rates by a 1.7% minimum was approved.  This is a periodic measure taken by the city and ambulance department to allow rates to follow Medicaid and Medicare increases in future years.  Interim Fire Chief, Jeremy Burkhart, told the council the rates will only amount to three or four dollars among the four basic ambulance services provided by the department for 2015.

The council ended the regular meeting with a move into executive session for legal questions and advice regarding the city’s lawsuit against ARPA.

By Russ Baldwin

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