Vacant Ellis city council seat filled



Minutes October 7, 2013


Mayor Lyle Johnston called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Present were Council members John Walz, John Leiker, Jolene Niernberger, Loran Gottschalk and Terry Redetzke.  Also present were Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman, City Clerk Amy Burton, Police Chief Taft Yates, and City Attorney Olavee Raub.





Sean Simmons, Mary Lou McDonald, Jim Metzler, Art Honas, Shirley Honas, Denis Vine, Dave Honas, Margie Mickelson, Jaiden Mickelson, Faith Scheck, Olivia Soukup, Alex Muirhead, Katlin Senst, Joyce Carthew, James Carthew, Maureen Duffy, Menghao Yin, Morgan Belveal, Dave McDaniel, John Dodson, Charlene Weber, Jessica Scheck, Andrew Scheck, Jeff Wolf, Vaughn Snider, Buck Driggs


Councilmember John Leiker moved to approve the consent agenda containing the Minutes from Regular Meeting on September 17, 2013 and Bills Ordinance #1934. Councilmember Terry Redetzke seconded the motion. The Council approved the consent agenda unanimously.




Mayor Johnston presented Employee Service Awards to the following: Faith Scheck (5 years); Marjorie Mickelson (10 years); David Honas (20 years); and Denis Vine (40 years).  Also recognized but not present were Brandon Pfeifer (5 years); Lance Kohl (15 years); and Matt Windholz (15 years).


The Fort Hays State University Leadership 310 Team gave a presentation on their fall semester project of providing public education to inform citizens about the City of Ellis’ critical water supply.  The Team’s main objective is to develop a low-flow showerhead exchange program and aerators for faucets.  The Team plans to have the program available at the Ellis Follow the Star event in December.


Public Works: Special Projects – Big Creek

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman reported work crews from the Stockton Correctional Facility are currently in the process of cutting down weeds and limbs in the creek bed.  The debris is being stacked in piles to be burned at a later time.  It is estimated the City could incur up to $2,500 in supplies for the cleanup.  It was the consensus of Council for the City to absorb costs incurred during the cleanup effort rather than assess those costs to the homeowners along the creek bed.

General Government: Contract

City Clerk Amy Burton presented bids for re-codification of the City ordinances.  Both bids allow for an attorney to review our current codes for any conflicts with State law or inconsistencies between ordinances. After discussion, Councilmember Leiker moved to accept the Codification Services Agreement from Citycode Financial, LLC in the amount of $3,750.00 for codification services and $1,250.00 for the initial year of “Up-to-Date Service” with funds to come from the General Fund.  Councilmember Niernberger seconded the motion.  Motion carried 5-0.


Personnel: Entry

Mayor Johnston announced the proposed appointment of Jeff Wolf to fill the vacant council seat.  Mr. Wolf is a long-time Ellis resident and has served on various community boards in the past.  Councilmember Loran Gottschalk moved and Councilmember John Leiker seconded a motion to appoint Jeff Wolf to the vacant council seat for the remaining unexpired term.  Motion carried 5-0.

Capital Improvement: Repair/Maintenance

Buck Driggs, Driggs Design Group, provided an update on the grant process for the waterline improvement project.  Prior to the Council meeting, Mr. Driggs held a public hearing required by the grant in order to give residents an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns regarding the project.  No one present voiced opposition to the project.  Mr. Driggs submitted a supplemental request for scope of services to include the additional waterline location along Monroe Street from East 18th St. to East 19th Street.  The additional fee is necessary to incorporate the additional project into the preliminary engineering report and the environmental report.  Councilmember Niernberger moved to accept the supplemental request for scope of services in the amount of $750.00 from Driggs Design Group with funds to come out of the Capital Improvement Fund.  Councilmember Walz seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

Water: License/Permit

The City’s authorization to regulate private domestic wells expires on December 31, 2013.  Being that the City’s dire water situation has not improved, City Attorney Olavee Raub has drafted a letter to the Chief Engineer requesting an extension of the City’s authority to impose restrictions on domestic water wells.  Councilmember John Walz moved and Councilmember John Leiker seconded a motion to authorize the Mayor to sign the letter to the Chief Engineer of the Kansas Division of Water Resources requesting an extension of the City’s authority to restrict domestic water wells.  Upon a call for further discussion, Councilmember Loran Gottschalk noted he would like to see the Water Advisory Committee develop some type of limited watering schedule.  Councilmember Terry Redetzke stated residents are buying water right outside town, pulling water out of the same water source as the City.   Councilmember Jolene Niernberger added that legislature should be doing more to restrict water use outside of the City limits.  City Attorney Raub noted that it is illegal for well owners to sell water out of an irrigation well.  Upon the Mayor’s call for a vote, the motion passed unanimously.

General Government: Contracts

Council discussed the proposed Preventative Maintenance agreement from Glassman Corporation on the City’s year-old HVAC system.  It was the consensus of Council that a preventative maintenance agreement is a good idea. Councilmember Gottschalk moved and Councilmember Niernberger seconded a motion to approve the three-year Preventative Maintenance Agreement for the inspection and cleaning of the HVAC system at City Hall at an annual cost of $1,519.20 with funds to come out of General Fund.  The term of the agreement is November 1, 2013 – October 31, 2016.  Motion carried 6-0.

General Government: Policy

City Clerk Amy Burton presented the proposed employee safety manual for consideration.  The Safety Committee has worked for over a year developing this manual and has gained input from all departments and staff.  Councilmember Niernberger moved and Councilmember Gottschalk seconded a motion to approve the Safety Guideline Manual as presented.  Motion carried 6-0.

Cemetery: Repair/Maintenance

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman presented a request from the Cemetery Committee to purchase recycled posts to act as cemetery cornerstone markers to help visitors navigate the cemetery.  Mr. Scheuerman obtained two bids for the posts, the low bid coming from EnviroSigns in the amount of $1,688.00.  The Council discussed if the size of the cemetery warranted cornerstone markers and how the markers could possibly complicate maintenance around the markers.  Council discussed installing flat markers that would be easier to mow around.  It was the consensus of Council to not entertain a motion on the purchase of the cornerstone markers at this time.

Personnel: Benefits

City Clerk Amy Burton presented a proposed revision to the current personnel policy regarding holiday pay for the police department.  Currently, if the officers work the holiday, they receive twelve hours of holiday pay; however, if the officers do not work the holiday, they only receive eight hours of holiday pay.  The proposed revision modifies the wording so that officers are paid holiday pay for a “regularly scheduled shift”, meaning twelve hours of holiday pay will be granted regardless if the officer worked or not.  Councilmember Niernberger feels the officers should receive pay for their work shift; however, Councilmember Gottschalk would like to table the item to compare with other entities.  This item will be considered further at the next meeting.

Water: Committee

Committee member Terry Redetzke gave an update from the Water Advisory Committee held on September 30, 2013.  Stacie Minson, KSU Watershed Specialist, and Nick Willis, City of Hays, presented ways to educate residents on water conservation and what measures the City of Hays has taken in order to conserve water. The Committee also discussed developing a definition of “commercial” use.  The Committee needs to determine if water is necessary to a business or primarily aesthetic.

Water: Policy

City Clerk Amy Burton presented an affidavit for residents to use for possible exemption from the conservation water rate.  The affidavit is intended for use by those residents that have a change in household from when their base usage had been calculated.  Currently the affidavit only addresses change in occupancy; Ms. Burton is seeking guidance on situations involving home maintenance water use or leaks.  It was the consensus of Council that home maintenance should not qualify for the affidavit and exemption, as that is a voluntary use of water.  Regarding leaks, the City currently makes an adjustment for one-half of the cost of any water metered in excess of 50,000 gallons.  Rather than adding to the affidavit, Council suggested amending the City’s Utility Service and Payment Policy to state that under Stage 3 water emergency, the City will make an adjustment for one-half of the cost of any water metered in excess of 20,000 gallons.  It was the consensus of the Council to direct Attorney Raub to make the suggested revision to the water leak policy and to accept the affidavit as proposed.


Public Works

Street: Repair/Maintenance

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman reported that the County has completed the street sealing project.  They should be commended for doing a wonderful job and for completing the project in an efficient manner.  Council directed City Clerk Amy Burton to draft a thank you note for their efforts.

Personnel: Position Change

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman stated that under the personnel policy he has the authority to place employees in positions as needed.  He would like to create a crew foreman position and increase that employee’s salary by $1.50/hour.  Council would like Mr. Scheuerman to review the job description for that position and present to Council any revisions needed before further action is taken.

Personnel: Entry

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman requested Council approval to retain Leland LaBarge as temporary seasonal help for an additional four to six weeks to help with the crack sealing of the streets.  Councilmember Loran Gottschalk moved and Councilmember John Walz seconded the motion to extend the employment of Leland LaBarge as temporary seasonal help through November 22, 2013.  Motion carried unanimously.

Public Works: Special Project

Mr. Scheuerman reported Ellis High School will be holding their second annual Community Service Day on October 29, 2013.

Sewer: Repair/Maintenance

Mr. Scheuerman reported that Mayer Specialty Services has completed the cleaning and inspection of 10,806 feet of sewer line.  One break was found.

Public Works: Training

Director Scheuerman requested approval to attend training in Wichita, KS from October 21-24, 2013.  Councilmember Walz moved to approve Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman to attend the NFPI FEMA floodplain insurance program from October 21st -24th in Wichita, KS.  Councilmember Gottschalk seconded the motion.  Motion carried 6-0.


Police Chief Taft Yates reported that he has received seven good applicants for the soon-to-be vacant position.  The Ford Interceptor was picked up today in Salina and should be placed into service soon.  Chief Yates reported that he has not been able to put the Crown Victoria out for bids yet.  The tire house is approximately one-third complete with Fort Hays University students providing much of the labor.  City staff will be participating in CPR training on October 22, 2013.

City Clerk

City Clerk Amy Burton reported that Lamar Signs has a work order in place this week to clear out the vegetation covering the billboard at mile marker 211.

City Clerk: Training

Ms. Burton requested approval to attend the annual IIMC Certification Institute the week of November 11th in Wichita, KS.  Councilmember John Walz moved and Councilmember Terry Redetzke seconded the motion to allow City Clerk Amy Burton to attend the IIMC Certification Institute from November 11th – 15th in Wichita, KS. Motion carried 6-0.  Ms. Burton continued by requesting approval for Assistant City Clerk Charlene Weber to attend the Master Municipal Clerks Academy on November 14th – 15th in Wichita, KS.  Councilmember John Walz moved and Councilmember Terry Redetzke seconded the motion to allow Charlene Weber to attend the MMC Academy on November 14th – 15th in Wichita, KS.  Motion carried 6-0.

Emergency Preparedness: Grant

City Clerk Amy Burton reported the City has received final payment from the Kansas Department of Emergency Management for the February snowstorm.  In total, the City received $9,788.96 as reimbursement for expenses incurred.

Water: Accounting/Billing

Kansas Municipal Utilities holds a free utility rate setting seminar periodically through the year.  At a recent meeting it was reported that the average monthly state water rate for municipalities for 5 units is $33.00 and the state average sewer rate is $26.25.  The City of Ellis’ average monthly state water rate for 5 units is $27.22 and $25.19 for sewer rates.

Water: Special Project

Ms. Burton recently spoke with Bob Redger, manager of Golden Belt Co-op.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has directed the Co-op to drill a well that will pump up to 1.7 million gallons of water per month.  That water will have to travel through the City’s water treatment plant.  Along with a sizable sewer bill from the City, Mr. Redger is also concerned as to why the State would require the Co-op to pump that much water out when the State acknowledges that the City is under a water emergency.  City Attorney Olavee Raub will contact Mr. Redger to get more information.


City Attorney Olavee Raub asked for a motion to approve her absence from the next meeting as she will be out of town.  Councilmember Walz moved and Councilmember Niernberger seconded a motion to approve the City Attorney’s absence at the October 21, 2013 meeting.  Motion carried unanimously.


Mayor Lyle Johnston reported he has moved from 407 Dorrance to 403 Dorrance.

Councilmember Jolene Niernberger informed Council of a free presentation at Fort Hays State University on the Affordable Care Act on October 15, 2013.  Ms. Niernberger also commended the City on being such a good partner with the Fort Hays Leadership 310 team.

Councilmember John Leiker noted he will be absent from the next meeting.

Councilmember Terry Redetzke stated that under the Stage 3 water emergency declaration residents have gone from using 105 gallons per capita to 70 gallons per capita.  Council commended the residents for their efforts in water conservation.


City Attorney Olavee Raub requested an executive session under attorney-client privilege.  A 15-minute executive session was proposed starting at 10:24 p.m.  Mayor Johnston asked for a motion to recess.  Councilmember Jolene Niernberger moved and Councilmember Jeff Wolf seconded the motion to recess to executive session under attorney-client privilege with the Governing Body and City Attorney Olavee Raub present.  Motion carried 6-0.  Police Chief Taft Yates was present for a portion of the executive session.  The Council returned to open session at 10:39 p.m.  No action was taken in executive session.


Councilmember Redetzke moved to adjourn the meeting.  Councilmember Leiker seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.  The meeting adjourned at 10:40 p.m.