SEPTEMBER 08, 2015
The Governing Body of the City of Pratt met in Regular session in the Commission Room located in City Hall.
Lucus Kumberg MayorBill Hlavachick Commissioner
Jeff Taylor Commissioner
Gary Skaggs Commissioner
Doug Meyer Commissioner
Dave Howard City ManagerLuAnn Kramer City Clerk
Ken Van Blaricum City Attorney
Gary Myers Chief of Police
Russell Rambat Public Works Director
Brad Blankenship Building Inspector
Bruce Pinkall Recreation Director
CALL TO ORDER:
The regular meeting was called to order by Mayor Kumberg. The Mayor instructed the Clerk to note that all Commissioners were present.
The Mayor reminded the audience that this meeting may be taped and/or recorded.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:
Commissioner Taylor led the staff and audience in the invocation and Mayor Kumberg led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commissioner Taylor made a motion to approve the minutes of the August 17, 2015 regular Commission meeting. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Skaggs and carried unanimously.
CONSIDERATION AND APPROVAL OF CITY MANAGER’S AGREEMENT:
City Attorney Van Blaricum stated that he had drafted an agreement for the City Manager over the last several months and it was before the Commission for their approval. Mayor Kumberg questioned whether everyone had had time to review the agreement and they had. With no further discussion, Commissioner Skaggs made a motion to approve the contract as submitted and written effective September 01, 2015. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Hlavachick.
Commissioner Taylor stated that Mr. Howard had been the City Manager for thirteen and a half years and during that time, he had negotiated a lot of contracts and got good deals for the community. Commissioner Taylor commented that he had paid for his salary with things that he had done and the Commission had wanted to lock him in for more years even though his contract was on a year to year basis. Commissioner Taylor added that Mr. Howard had surrounded the City with good employees and it spoke highly of this Commission to enter into this contract. Commissioner Skaggs also added that this was a five year contract.
The motion and second passed unanimously.
CONSIDERATION AND APPROVAL OF DELEGATE(S) AT THE LKM ANNUAL CONFERENCE:
Mayor Kumberg questioned if anyone was planning on going to the League’s Annual Conference. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that he was going and would be glad to represent the City as a voting delegate. Mr. Howard stated that he had not asked Finance Director Garten if she was going, but they could appoint her if they so choose to. Commissioner Taylor made a motion to appoint City Attorney Ken Van Blaricum and Finance Director Diana Garten as delegates at the League of Kansas Municipalities Annual Conference. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Hlavachick and carried unanimously.
· Story Walk in Lemon Park:
K-State Research employee Jody Drake approached the Commission about having a Story Walk in Lemon Park. Ms. Drake explained that this was something new to Pratt, but they take pages from a story book and post them around the park. Ms. Drake stated that she had been in contact with the library about partnering with them and they were on board. Ms. Drake commented that this would start in the spring and would go along with the Walk Kansas program; however, they would be doing a test run during the Christmas event. Commissioner Taylor questioned if they would need to close down the park. Ms. Drake stated that they would not and this was going to be an on-going thing with the books being changed out once a week.
Ms. Drake stated that they encourage the children and parents to read the whole book. Ms. Drake explained that they have to buy two books to post the whole book and that prevents any copyright issues. Commissioner Skaggs questioned if they expected some vandalism. Ms. Drake stated that there could be and that could up the cost if they had to purchase more books. Commissioner Taylor asked where they would be doing it. Ms. Drake stated that it would be on the sidewalk trail. Commissioner Meyer questioned if they would be putting stakes in the ground. Ms. Drake explained that there would be something in the ground.
Ms. Drake commented that she would be applying for a grant. Mayor Kumberg stated that this was a great idea and asked that she call Public Works Director Rambat if she had any questions. Commissioner Taylor questioned if this was a year around program. Ms. Drake stated that it would be for about eight weeks and coincide with the Walk Kansas program.
With little more discussion, the Commission were in agreement to allow Ms. Drake to go ahead with her plans for the Story Walk in Lemon Park in the spring.
· Private property flooded:
Mr. Ernie Smith commented to the Commission that there was private property in the 200 block of South Hamilton Street that had flooded during the heavy rain this afternoon. Mr. Smith stated that it had gotten up on two properties and was an on-going issue when there were sudden down pours. Public Works Director Rambat stated that he had examined the drainage ditch for restrictions and there were not any. Mr. Rambat commented that this property was fairly level and did not have any grasp to pull the water back down. Mr. Rambat added that other properties tend to taper up from the top of the concrete on the ditch.
Commissioner Skaggs stated that there had not been any history before the ditch was concrete. Mr. Smith commented that water got in one time. Commissioner Skaggs questioned if the City had any liability. City Manager Howard stated that other properties had had this happen and it was fairly common to flood into yards. Commissioner Skaggs asked if the McFarland’s had flood insurance. Mr. Smith stated that they did and added that the Gimpel’s had built a retainer wall and the water was coming up the back side and would not drain. Mr. Howard stated that this was not something that the City caused, but it was a natural event. Mr. Howard added that the City does what they can to prevent areas of flooding, but there were some areas that we cannot do much about.
· Home Lumber project:
City Manager Howard stated that the Home Lumber project had been put on hold due to the economic conditions and the down turn of the oil industry. Mr. Howard stated that he had talked with the general manager and they were just being cautious. Mr. Howard commented that he felt the City should continue with the Fincham Street project.
· Sales Tax:
Mr. Howard reported that sales tax was down for the third month in a row.
· Crime and Punishment in Pratt:
City Attorney Van Blaricum stated that he had had a good conversation with Chief Myers after he left the joint meeting and he had since jotted down some thoughts and facts for the Commission. Mr. Van Blaricum informed the Commission that there had not been any home invasions that he knew of and there had been no robberies. Mr. Van Blaricum commented that the police had had a number of leads on the recent business burglary, but they had not checked out. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that there had been some home burglaries where some had been solved and others had not.
Mr. Van Blaricum stated that 95% of all police reports were prosecuted due to our police department being as good as any in the State. Mr. Van Blaricum commented that bond conditions were flexible and were set by the Judge. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that he does not set bond. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that he was unaware of any unusual crime in the City, but there were rumors that crime was up and prosecution was down. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that he did not know where they came from.
Commissioner Skaggs asked if he had any comments on the drug situation in Pratt. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that there was one and a lot of people use marijuana. Mr. Van Blaricum commented that attitudes were changing in Pratt, but he still prosecutes. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that he absolutely prosecutes meth and heroin cases, but they typically do not go to prison the first time around. Mr. Van Blaricum commented that those that do go to prison were those who sell to others and they were hard to catch, but they were prosecuted all the way through. Mr. Van Blaricum added that they were sent to prison on a regular basis. Commissioner Skaggs questioned if Pratt had more of a problem than other communities this size. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that we did not. Mr. Van Blaricum explained that, if caught in Wichita in a routine traffic stop, they might not be charged at all and we do. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that we were pretty hardnosed on those cases and were very hard on robberies, home invasions, etc. Commissioner Skaggs commented that the rumors they were hearing were either exaggerated or they had been misinformed about drugs being a severe problem and that our schools were full of drugs. Commissioner Skaggs added that negative rumors give the community a bad name and he wants what we have heard to be accurate. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that you need to be careful what you read on Facebook.
Police Chief Myers reported several crime statistics that included aggravated burglary, assaults, disorderly conduct, drug violation and driving while on a suspended license. Chief Myers stated that burglaries were on the rise this year. Commissioner Meyer commented that he hears about repeat offenders and a core group of people. Chief Myers stated that they know that those individuals are out there and some are on the bicycles. Chief Myers commented that those individuals were in their twenties or late twenties and most were on probation. Chief Myers explained that the judges make a decision to put them in prison or put them back out on the street and, if they are out there, they are up to no good. .Chief Myers stated that people were encouraged to not leave any valuables in their cars and to secure their garage and house. Chief Myers added that he had a limited number of officers, but they do the best that they can. Chief Myers stated that the economy had put people out of work and some were out doing criminal acts to subsidize their lack of income. Chief Myers commented that there were no towns in the country that were immune to drug issues, but we had had a pretty good success rate even if it was only the small time users. City Manager Howard questioned when the Attorney General’s office was called in. Mr. Van Blaricum stated that it was on cases that we were not geared up to handle, such as child molestation.
Mr. Jeff McCaskey stated that he meant no disrespect to Chief Myers or Mr. Van Blaricum when he made his remarks at the joint meeting. Mr. McCaskey commented that he had voiced the opinion of many people in the community and they wanted to see the level of crimes lowered and to see progress and results. Commissioner Skaggs asked if anything that Chief Myers or Mr. Van Blaricum had said changed anything he had talked about earlier. Mr. McCaskey stated that he sees that there are no comments at the meetings from the community; however, the perception was that there was no action taken on these matters. Mr. McCaskey commented that he might have caught Mr. Van Blaricum off guard and that was not his intention. Mr. McCaskey explained that he was not pointing the finger at anyone, but the community just wants to see results whether that means policy adjustments or a ‘tune-up’ that would be visible to the community. Mr. McCaskey stated that people do not realize the work that the Commission and attorney do. Mayor Kumberg agreed that there should be more communication. Mr. McCaskey stated that more people should come here to listen to what Mr. Van Blaricum had to say, but he was not sure how to get them to come in.
Mr. Van Blaricum commented that it was hard to get the media to report results and he did not have time to call Hutchinson or the Tribune and try to go through what they had accomplished. Chief Myers stated that he does send a daily email to the Tribune with their activities. Chief Myers explained that citizens need to call as soon as they see something happening, but many did not want to be a witness to the fact. Chief Myers commented that he was disappointed in the discontinuance of Crime Stoppers. Chief Myers stated that that was something that we needed to try and get back and people would know that they were going to stay anonymous. Mayor Kumberg stated that any help from the community would be worthwhile and we take that very serious. Mr. Howard stated that citizens had the fear of retribution if they call in. Commissioner Skaggs encouraged the officers to stop and visit if they see someone sitting outside so that we keep the lines of communication open. Chief Myers stated that they would be glad to talk to any civic organizations and he or someone in the department with expertise could address different areas.
· Wastewater Plant:
Public Works Director Rambat stated that the wastewater plant was back in business. Mr. Rambat commented that they had been working with the tech on any forms that needed to be protected and they would be keeping an extra controller on the shelf from now on. Mr. Howard stated that the lightning strike several weeks ago could have weakened the system.
· Pool closed:
Mr. Rambat stated that yesterday was the last day for the pool to be open, but they had not drained it yet. Mr. Rambat explained that they would let the chlorine dissipate some before they do drain it.
· Hampton Inn:
Building Inspector Blankenship stated that the Hampton Inn had been putting furniture in and were looking at being ready to open by the end of the week. Mr. Blankenship informed the Commission that he would be doing a mechanical inspection there tomorrow.
· Parrish Lofts:
Mr. Blankenship stated that tomorrow was the final roof inspection at the Parrish Lofts and they were working on the parking lot. Mayor Kumberg asked how much further they had to go. Mr. Blankenship stated that there was quite a bit, but the top floors were done and they were working on the bottom floors.
Mr. Blankenship assured the Commission that the windows would eventually only open up to about four inches and that would be done with a kit that was locked in. Commissioner Skaggs questioned if there would be screens. Mr. Blankenship stated that there would be. Commissioner Hlavachick asked if they were all rented. Mr. Blankenship commented that he did not know, but he thought they were getting close. Mr. Howard stated that he had heard that they only had two left.
· Movement on Main Street project:
Recreation Director Pinkall stated that there was movement on Main Street and they were getting closer to getting done. Mayor Kumberg commented that the light poles looked awesome. Commissioner Taylor asked if they would move the electrical wires among the stop lights. Mr. Pinkall stated that Director of Electric Utilities Huber had the plans for all that, but it was the last thing to get done. Commissioner Hlavachick questioned if they were going to paint the stop light poles. Mr. Pinkall stated that he was not aware that they were, but Mr. Howard stated that that was an idea.
Mayor and Commission:
· City/County meeting:
Mayor Kumberg stated that he had enjoyed the City/County meeting earlier and he thought that they had several good discussion points.
· Allocate funds for Joint Mental Health Program:
Commissioner Meyer questioned if the Commission should allocate funds for the Mental Health Program. Mr. Howard stated that we should get everything in place first. Commissioner Skaggs stated that we had accomplished several things today and it was a true joint venture.
Commissioner Hlavachick made a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Meyer seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
_______________________________LUCUS KUMBERG, Mayor
LUANN KRAMER, City Clerk