Reinstatement of Kansas Local Bridge Improvement Program

Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz visited El Dorado and the Historic Butler County Courthouse to announce the reinstatement of the Kansas Local Bridge Improvement Program.  This is a state-funded program that provides funds to local public authorities to replace or rehabilitate locally-owned, deficient bridges in order to improve overall system throughout the State of Kansas.  

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Stone Arch Bridge was built in 1933 in the Northeast Area of the “Old” El Dorado Lake.

Many bridges in the state of Kansas were built between 75-100 years ago with the average age being 50 years old.  There are 19,000 bridges across the state that could potentially qualify for this program. It is estimated between 9-10,000 bridges will be closed in the next 50 years, if they are not improved.  

In order to receive funding a bridge must be classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete based on the latest inspection performed under the procedures of the National Bridge Inspection Program (NBI). According to Secretary Lorenz, applications will be accepted beginning Wednesday, August 7th, through mid-September.

 

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City of El Dorado 2020 Budget Approved

El Dorado Boy Scout Troop #222 made a visit to the City Commission meeting to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The City of El Dorado Budget for 2020 was approved Monday night. City Manager David Dillner explained to the Commission that the Total Budget Authority for the year is expected to be $32.9 million.

Jordan Buxton, El Dorado Chamber of Commerce Director, along with Sue Hoefgen of Augusta Chamber of Commerce, shared information on the Butler County Act Program.

The goal of the Butler County Act Program is to create an ACT ready community. ACT Work Ready Communities Program (WRC) empowers states, regions and counties with data, processes and tools that drive economic growth.

Commissioner Wilkinson stated, “As a former educator I appreciate it is not just the schools involved but the chamber as well.” Mayor Haines added that he appreciates the bridge between the workforce and schools.

A date of September 12th is scheduled to launch the program. To learn more contact Jordan Buxton at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce or Sara Hoefgen at the Augusta Chamber of Commerce.

Also appearing before the Commission was the HollyFrontier Western Celebration chairman, Tabitha Sharp. She was joined by the newly crowned Miss Frontier 2019, Naomi Galindo. They shared information about the upcoming festival and invited the Commissioners to attend this year’s event.

The festival begins Friday, August 9 with Mutton Bustin’, the Extreme Bull Blowout, and a concert by Kyle Park.

Saturday includes a parade through downtown, the Kids Korral at East Park in partnership with the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum. A Junior Ranch Rodeo will be held at 1p on Saturday followed by the Butler County Ranch Rodeo and a concert with Jason Callahan.

The weekend rounds out with Cowboy Church on Sunday. Tickets are $10, can be purchased at the gate, and provide admission to the festival all weekend. The City of El Dorado is a sponsor of the HollyFrontier Western Celebration. The HollyFrontier Western Celebration is a committee of El Dorado Main Street.

Failure to Appear Fines; Imprisonment

The City Commission heard a proposal for a municipal code amendment regarding “Failure to Appear” and the option of providing community service, in lieu of fines, at the meeting on March 18th.  The Commission asked staff to revisit the community service portion. Police Chief Zieman spoke to the Commission on the topic of community service and informed them that it is required to be offered as an option, per the insurance company.   Should someone be charged with “Failure to Appear,” there is the possibility of $500 fine, 6 months imprisonment or both.

The City Attorney and Prosecutor are working on a new amendment for community service and it will be brought back to the Commission at a later date.  The amendment pertaining to the Municipal Court “Failure to Appear” was approved.

Jack Ryan-Feldman, with Springsted Financial Advisors, reported on the bids on opened for the Series 2019 A Series improvement bonds  The winning bid was from The Baker Group for $2.83 million bond amount with 2.605% interest rate. With 10 bidders, Mr. Ryan-Feldman stated this was the highest number on record for El Dorado bonds.  An Ordinance providing for the Issuance of general obligation bonds was approved. A resolution describing the details connected with the sale of the bonds was also approved.

City Commission and Advisory Board updates were provided and City Manager David Dillner shared the list of appointed board positions open.  They include the Airport Advisory Board, the Convention and Tourism Committee, the Planning Commission, the Recreation Board, and the Sales Tax Committee.  If you are interested in serving on one of these committees, talk to a City Commissioner or download an application from the City website.

Mr. Dillner also reminded the Commission that next week, April 8-12, is Spring Clean Up Week in El Dorado.  It is recommended to have your trash at the curb on your collection day by 7a and to not put trash out any earlier than 24 hours in advance.  This is to reduce the chance of wind blowing it into the streets. He also noted that scavenging is NOT allowed. All trash must be in disposable containers and the containers must not exceed 25lbs.   Limbs and E-Waste (Small TV’s, VCR’s, Microwaves, Computers etc.) are accepted.  Items NOT accepted include (but are not limited to): Large furniture (i.e. couches, recliners, mattresses etc.), appliances, air conditioners, tires, batteries, hazardous materials, construction materials, leaves or grass.  For More Information, Call City of El Dorado Public Works Department,  322-4481.

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Fire Captain Troy Jellison at the recent First Responder Appreciation Dinner.

Before ending his remarks, Mr. Dillner acknowledged the recent achievement of El Dorado Fire Department Captain Troy Jellison, who just completed a multi-year, National Fire Academy Training.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 15, at 6:30p in the City Commission Room at City Hall and is open to the public.

 

Lincoln Township Memo Clarification

After receiving approval from the Planning Commission, David Alfaro, Community Development Director, presented a request from Buller & Expedition Wind, LLC for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the construction of an Electric Switching Station on property owned by Harvey Buller located at the West side of NW Highway 77 between NW 130th and NW 140th Streets and within Lincoln Township.

The switching station is a critical piece of infrastructure to ensure that the general public will have access to a reliable power source and part of a Wind Turbine Project being constructed in Marion County.  There will not be any Wind Turbines associated with the request as power from the Wind Farm will be transported via an electric line mounted on poles that will be placed within the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) ‘right of way’ traveling from Marion County through Butler County and connecting at the switching station.  Once it reaches the site it will be connected to the Westar electric system and then placed on the grid. It was noted that none of the Township Roads will experience any construction traffic during the construction phase of the project and all associated equipment will be located within a fenced-in area.

Landowners within a 1,000′ radius of the project site were notified of the request, as required by state law, and three (3) individuals inquired about the project.  One of the individuals, Mike Cooper, also happens to sit on the Lincoln Township Board. According to Mr. Alfaro, Mr. Cooper requested some information associated with the project and it was provided to him.  Afterwards, a memo was distributed to landowners within Lincoln Township asserting false information. Mr. Alfaro brought the attention of the Board to the memo and addressed the questions raised within it.

Commissioner Myers addressed the issue of the memo and stated his confusion as to its origination, whether it came from Mr. and Mrs. Copper, private citizens or Lincoln Township.  Commissioner Woydziak asked Mr. Alfaro if the memo was on behalf of the Township or Mr. Cooper, as a private citizen. It was noted that, while the memo alluded to the fact it came from the Township Board, it was not the intention of the Lincoln Township Board to endorse Mr. Cooper’s claims.  

Mr Alfaro then responded to allegations by Mr. Cooper stating, “The following responses are to address questions raised by Mike Cooper…”

1) Why would they (Expedition Wind LLC) locate a substation in Butler County, rather than Marion County? 1 Switching Station will actually be located on the same footprint as the Windfarm in Marion Co. and the 2nd is being located in Butler Co. where it will provide an interconnection to the Electric Grid and its connection to WESTAR.

2) Why was the information requested only made available to a small group of people? KS State Statutes require notification to any and all landowners within a 1,000’ radius of a project site. That was notice was sent out as required by law. The only information requests I received was from a member of the Planning Commission, an Attorney representing the landowner directly across the highway to the East and Mr. Mike Cooper. In my discussion with Mr. Cooper I provided him copies of everything that I had as it related to the Project. In fact Mr. Cooper then went to the Co. Clerk’s Office and stated that I did NOT give him all the information related to the project and the only way any one can get that information is if you are a friend of mine.

I have been in either City or County government for 34 years and have NEVER been accused of withholding information and for Mr. Cooper to question my integrity like that really upsets me.

3) What tax revenue would be made available to Butler County from this project? The State of Kansas would be the agency that would assess the project and at this time I have no idea how much tax revenue Butler County would receive.

4) What would keep this company from putting a Windfarm in Butler County in the future, since the substation is already in existence? Former Gov. Brownback placed a Moratorium on the construction of Windfarms in the Flinthills and since the majority of Butler County is located in the Flinthills the chances of a project coming to or being approved is very slim!  And as stated, the Switching Station will provide an interconnection with Westar and therefore another Windfarm would not be able to connect to it.

5) Will this project require the installation of the large, rusty power poles along our property/roads? In speaking with Troy Bushman, with Expedition Wind, that piece of the project has not been engineered yet.

6) What is the time schedule for the proposed project? The earliest date to begin construction would be either July or August of 2019 with a go live date of approx. the end of 2020.

7) Will this substation be the “first foot in the door” in getting a windfarm in Butler County? Will say it again, the Gov. put a moratorium on Windfarms in the Flinthills so the chances are slim.

Mr. Alfaro added, “And as for the comment ‘it just smells fishy’, again I take offense to the comment and the allegation that I or anyone associated with this office is hiding any information.”

The Board asked questions in order to clarify the type of materials to be used in the project.  After hearing from representatives of Expedition Wind, the Board approved the CUP.

Read the full article on this week’s Board of Butler County Commissioners meeting.

 

Board of Butler County Commissioners | 3-19-19

Mr. Brian Riley of Integrated Plastics Solutions (IPS) appeared before the Board to provide an update on the progress IPS has made toward cleaning up the property located at 424 Industrial Road in El Dorado, and ask for a decrease in the landfill fees to help him with the costs of cleaning up.  He estimates having approximately 2.5 million pounds that will end up in the landfill. Mr. Riley requested the fee be reduced to $1/ton, which would only cover the state imposed tipping fee of $1/ton and not cover any of the costs incurred by Butler County.

The Board had previously extended a 50% reduction in fees to help IPS with the cost of clean up.  Commissioner Myers stated, “That is substantial reduction and now you’re asking to go all the way down to $1?  That is a 97% discount. I don’t think I can support $1/ton.” Commissioner Woydziak agreed stating, “I’m reluctant to go to $1/ton but I’m willing to move to $10/ton.”  

Mr. Riley also asked for an extension to continue cleaning property up.  With respect to the originally agreed upon deadline, Commissioner Myers noted, “Nothing has changed, all of the parameters are the same as December.”  Mr. Riley cited poor weather conditions, loss of employees, and landfill costs as hindrances to having the property cleaned up by the March 31 deadline.

Commissioner Wheeler asked the Board to consider, “Is it realistic to suppose that much [waste] can be taken in 4 weeks when only 250,000 pounds had been taken since December 1?”  He also wondered, “What kind of strain does this put on the landfill?” While Public Works Director Darryl Lutz did not immediately have an answer, he stated, “it sounds ambiguous to me, I don’t know.  125 tons is about a days amount of trash that comes to landfill [currently].”

It was decided to extend the deadline to Wednesday, May 1, 2019 and for Subtitle D fees be reduced from $15 to 10/ton with a maximum of 1500 tons, which equates to 3 million pounds, and only be the materials already onsite at IPS, with biweekly progress updates.  The motion carried 4-1, Murphy voted against.

Dan Rice, Executive Director for South Central Mental Health Counseling Center (SCMHCC) appeared before the Board to present the current list of board members recommended for re-appointment with the addition on two new board members.  The bylaws for SCMHCC require the appointment of not less than seven members from Butler County, Kansas to be appointed for terms of three (3) years by the Board of County Commissioners in accordance to the provisions of K.S.A 19-4002.  Membership of each governing board, as nearly as possible, shall be representative of public health, medical profession, the judiciary, public welfare, hospitals, mental health organizations and organizations for people with intellectual disability, education, rehabilitation, labor, business and civic groups and the general public. The governing board of a mental health center also shall include consumers of mental health services or representatives of mental health consumer groups and shall include family members of mentally ill persons.  The new members added to the board are Sarah Hoffman and John Black. The appointments were approved.

Darryl Lutz, Public Works Director, presented a request participate in the federal funds exchange program in order to receive available funds from Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) for the current federal fiscal year.  In 2011, KDOT ended the five-year plan process for federal aid funding of county road and bridge projects that utilize STP funds. In lieu of submitting projects to KDOT for federal aid funding, KDOT instituted a new program that allows KDOT to purchase the federal aid from Counties for 90 cents for every $1 of available funds.

This program allows counties in Kansas to build their own projects utilizing our own design standards and administrative requirements and be reimbursed from KDOT with state funds.  Last year was the fifth year that Butler County had a positive balance for which the county received approximately $327,000 based on a reduced exchange rate of 75 cents for every dollar of federal funds. The exchange rate for this year has been restored to 90 cents for every $1 of available federal funds. While the exchange has increased for this year, the amount of federal funds available has decreased by about $25,000.

The County has a balance of federal aid funds this federal fiscal year in the amount of $409,725.34. Based upon the exchange rate of 90 cents for $1, the County can receive up to $368,752.80 to be applied toward a project or projects this year.  The entire amount is allocated to fund road and bridge improvement projects in 2019. The money will be forwarded to Butler County as a reimbursement against any projects completed this year.

Mr. Lutz also presented a non-agenda action item to approve utility agreements related to a bridge replacement project.  The request was approved.

Bryce Flaming, residing in Commissioner Masterson’s District 1, was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Board.

During a work session, the Board discussed appointments to FIre District Boards and discussed complaints and questions that were submitted to the Commissioners by their constituents.  The statutes state that there can be between 3-7 members on fire boards. The Fire Chief is appointed by the Board and in some districts, the Fire Chief can also sit on the board.

Vouchers, adds and abates were approved.

 

El Dorado City Commission | 3-18-19

Vice Mayor Kendra Wilkinson helmed this week’s City Commission meeting as Mayor Haines was out of town.  City Engineer, Scott Rickard presented an application to rezone the property located at 610 SW Purity Springs Road.  Tom Pennycuff, Controller for Brickley Enterprises, was present to answer questions from the Commission. The application was approved.  

Mr. Rickard also presented the proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.  The last major update to the Zoning Ordinance took place in 2009 when the City of El Dorado adopted the 2030 El Dorado Comprehensive Plan. Since that time, a number of minor changes to the ordinance have been made with the last two changes made in 2016 and 2018 which adjusted fence heights and application fees, respectively. In fall of 2018, the City Commission directed staff and the Planning Commission to review residential accessory structure regulations and to look into the topic of tiny homes.

Scott Rickard

At the City Commission’s request, the Planning Commission meet over the past three months to identify and opportunities to amend the Zoning Ordinance. The Zoning Ordinance regulates land use and development within the City of El Dorado. Current regulations are similar to those in place at every municipality in Kansas similar in size and larger than El Dorado.  The proposed amendments to the ordinance are:

  • Link residential accessory structure size to principal structure size. This is common across the state of Kansas and focuses residential development on the principal structure. Said regulation prevents non-residential structures from becoming the dominant structures in residential neighborhoods.
  • Allow eligible property owners to build a residential accessory structure as large as 1,500 square feet to do so without a Special Use Permit if the structure uses matching building materials as viewed from public property and a minimum 60 foot front setback.
  • Residential accessory structure height regulation changed to link height and roof pitch to that of the principal structure rather than a set side wall height that has historically prevented storing of taller recreation vehicles in said structures.
  • Reduces side yard setbacks on lots platted prior to 1951, solving a widespread problem for property owners with detached garages near property lines that cannot be rebuilt in their current location.
  • Prohibit use of shipping containers in residential areas as permanent accessory structures and provides for temporary use. Many cities within the state already prohibit permanent residential containers.
  • Regulate infill housing size to prevent excessively small or excessively large development within established neighborhoods that may negatively impact surrounding properties and to maintain the scale and character of the neighborhood.
  • Remove annexation zoning language from the zoning ordinance, a paragraph that was essential prior to gaining jurisdiction outside limits but is no longer needed.
  • Update bylaws to allow for a Planning Commission Representative to sit on the Board of Zoning Appeals.

“The ultimate goal [of the amendment] is to protect the adjacent properties and create something that fits within the neighborhood.” stated Rickard.  The amendment was approved.

City Clerk, Tabitha Sharp presented information and proposed amendment for the Cereal Malt Beverage Municipal Code (CMB).  Effective April 1 2019, CMB Retailers, both general (drink on premise) and limited (carry-out/drink off premise) will be able to sell beer containing not more than 6% alcohol by volume. State law also increased city occupation taxes allowed by cities for beer distributor and added three new license categories/city occupation tax for caterers, wine distributors and public venues. This change creates the need to change the language used in City of El Dorado municipal codes. The Cereal Malt Beverage Municipal Code Amendment was approved.

Also before the Commission, was a request from the Municipal Court Judge to amend the Municipal Code regarding failure to appear.  The City’s liability insurance company has also required an ordinance allowing the payment of municipal court fines through community service. For every one (1) hour of community service completed, which can be verified, the defendant shall receive eight dollars ($8.00) credit towards municipal court fines. Community Service has to be done in or for a business entity or organization in the City of El Dorado, Kansas. Community Service will not apply to court costs or restitution.  The City Commission must approve all amendments to the municipal code, and the code must be amended to comply with State Statute. After much discussion on how the community service would be monitored and reported, it was decided to table the issue to allow for clarification. It will be brought back before the commission at a later date.

The City of El Dorado and El Dorado Inc. requested a Master Plan for the Industrial Park. The plan was to be completed for the 280 acres west of the turnpike so that staff could better understand the infrastructure needs, entrances and exits, access to the turnpike and utility needs. The Master Plan creates an informational plan to be “answer ready” when approached by a prospective buyer/developer.  The plan was accepted by the Commission.

 

 

Hemp Farming in Butler County

Board of Butler County Commissioners held a work session, in which Dana Ladner with Kansas Dept of Agriculture spoke before the Commission to discuss industrial hemp rules and regulations and how the legality of hemp farming affects Butler County.  

Dana Ladner from Kansas Department of Agriculture
Dana Ladner from Kansas Department of Agriculture presenting to the Board of Butler County Commissioners.

On February 8, applications went live with a short window to apply for the “pilot research program.”  March 1st is the deadline for applications, with a fee of $200 due. Once accepted into the program, there is an annual licensing fee which varies by type.  The license fee for a Grower is $1000; Distributor is $2000; Processor is $3000.  Licensees will also be subject to sampling, testing, and modification fees.  She noted that seed selection is critical in growing a crop of THC free (- .3%) hemp.

Rick Gash of Hemp Development Group
Rick Gash of Hemp Development Group appearing before the Board.

Also appearing before the Commission was Rick Gash.  Mr. Gash was involved in a near-fatal motor vehicle accident a year ago on Father’s Day.  He credits his survival to God but his rescue from pain pills to his wife, Stacy. It was at her suggestion that the Gash’s began their journey to become industrial hemp farmers and founded the Hemp Development Group to help farmers, distributors, processors, manufacturers and retailers build industry infrastructure which in turn will not only help Butler County and Kansas but the USA and beyond.  He and his wife plan to begin growing industrial hemp on their Butler County farm this year with acceptance into the “pilot” program.

Commissioner Myers asked if everyone licensed through this program is designated as doing research. Ms. Ladner confirmed that then-Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. signed Senate Bill 263 (now K.S.A. 2-3901 et seq.) in April 2018, which enacted the Alternative Crop Research Act allowing the Kansas Department of Agriculture to oversee the cultivation of industrial hemp in a research program.  She also stated, they currently have “no clue” as to the economic impact on Kansas, as an end product is needed.

With a growing season of approximately four (4) months for a crop that is proven to be drought resistant, reports on the economic impact could be available after only one growing year.  Per acre, it produces four times as much paper as trees, which take many years to reach maturity for harvest.

The Commission approved Charter Resolution No. HR-19-01 which exempts Butler County from certain provisions of K.S.A. 65-201, specifically a portion of K.S.A. 65-202 which require County Health Officials in Kansas to perform sanitary inspections of all school buildings and grounds residing in a county.  Failure to enact the resolution would require the County to start performing the inspections at all school facilities in Butler County, which our Health Department is not staffed to perform.

Ryan Adkison, Assistant County Administrator presented the 2018 Annual Purchasing Card Report and Audit.

Public Works Director, Darryl Lutz, presented an informational session on the Kansas Bridge Load Rating Program.  The Kansas Department of Transportation is undertaking a multiyear project to re-load rate every local bridge in the state of Kansas as part of a requirement being made by Federal Highway Administration. No action was taken at the present time. Ultimately, decisions will need to be made for possible funding for additional maintenance and bridge replacement work.

Vouchers, adds, and abates were approved.  County Administrator Will Johnson informed the Board that Christy Davis, Executive Director for Symphony in Flint Hills is resigning.  He reminded the Commissioners they will be visiting the Douglass Senior Center next Tuesday, February 26th following the Commission meeting and there will be no meeting on March 5th.