Establishing a utilities department under consideration by Topeka’s governing body

The city’s governing body, consisting of the nine council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast, pictured, plans to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at 214 S.E. 8th. (2017 file photograph/The Capital-Journal)

Topeka’s governing body plans Tuesday to consider establishing a utilities department, thus doing away with the current arrangement in which the city public works department runs utility operations.

 

The Shawnee County Commission won’t meet Monday because of the Labor Day holiday.

The city’s governing body, consisting of the nine council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast, plans to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at 214 S.E. 8th.

That body plans to consider one proposal that would formally create a utilities department consisting of the water distribution, stormwater and water pollution control divisions, and another measure that would include making the utilities director responsible for all operations related to those divisions.

“In recent years the water, wastewater and storm water divisions have been operating under the umbrella of a utilities department model,” said a document in the agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting. “Satisfied with the efficiencies of that model the ordinance would place the overall direction and control under the utilities director.”

Bob Sample is the city’s interim utilities director.

Topeka’s governing body in July sent the two proposals to its policy and finance committee, which last month approved numerous amendments targeted primarily at cleaning up language to improve the consistency and clarity of different parts of the city code.

Approval of one of the measures would also make changes to industrial pretreatment requirements to comply with a request from the Environmental Protection Agency.

In other business, commissioners plan Tuesday to:

— Consider placing real estate liens on 155 properties that have utility delinquencies through which they owe the city a total of $143,818.03, according to information in the meeting’s agenda packet.

— Consider a measure specifying how the city would allocate $4,900 to finance projects in designated neighborhoods through its neighborhood event and beautification grant program.

— Consider reallocating transient guest tax funding the city awarded to the Historic Jayhawk Theater Inc. by shifting $155,000 initially planned to be used for marquee construction to be used to develop complete architectural construction documents. The measure would also amend the city’s development agreement with those restoring the theater to ensure any future changes to the project involving more than $100,000 come back to the governing body and its transient guest tax committee for approval.

— Consider changing the date from Sept. 12 to Oct. 3 for a planned public hearing to consider adopting a redevelopment project plan for the proposed Wheatfield Village development at the northwest corner of S.W. 29th and Fairlawn Road.

— Discuss but take no action regarding potentially scheduling an Oct. 3 public hearing on potentially establishing a Community Improvement District for NSI Investments’ proposed project to redevelop property at 240 S.E. 29th, which includes a former Kmart building.

— Consider appointing Rick Stones to the Topeka Sustainability Advisory Board, reappointing Don Moses and Theresa Packard to the Topeka Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council, and appointing Shawn Kimble and reappointing Joel Cromwell to the Shawnee County Community Corrections Advisory Board.

Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.

 

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