Governing bodies to consider raising utility rates, issuing bonds for development projects

Shawnee County Commissioners plan Monday to consider issuing taxable industrial revenue bonds in the amount of an estimated $75 million to enable 29 Fairlawn LLC to create its proposed Wheatfield Village development on 14.7 acres at the northwest corner of S.W. 29th and Fairlawn Road. (Google Maps)

Proposals to raise Topeka utility rates and arrange for Shawnee County to issue bonds totaling more than $100 million for two development projects are among measures local governing bodies plan to take up this coming week.

 

The Shawnee County Commission will meet at 9 a.m. Monday in its chambers in Room B-11 of the county courthouse, 200 S.E. 7th, while the Topeka City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at 214 S.E. 8th.

The city’s governing body, consisting of the nine council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast, plans to consider raising water, wastewater and stormwater utility rates by 6 percent in 2018, 5 percent in 2019 and 5 percent in 2020.

For the average resident using 5,000 gallons a month, the total utility rate increase would be $4.10 a month for the combined total increase in water, wastewater and stormwater usage, the city said in a Nov. 30 news release.

Wolgast won’t have a vote Tuesday as the council considers Councilman Brendan Jensen’s proposal to make various changes to the city’s animal code, which were requested by staff members, and also make it clear that miniature pigs that weigh less than 150 pounds and measure less than 24 inches tall at the shoulder may be kept as pets within city limits.

The council initially took up the proposal Dec. 5 but deferred action on it that day to give its members time to look at several amendments put forth by Councilwoman Karen Hiller, which they are expected to consider Tuesday.

In other business, the governing body plans to:

— Consider spending $543,205 in anticipated general fund excess money from this year by using $222,125 to finish making lease payments this year that the city currently plans to make early in 2018 for Topeka police vehicles and using the remaining $321,080 to pay cash to carry out fire station renovation work planned for 2018.

— Consider raising ambulance service franchise fees and entering into a two-year franchise agreement with the city’s ambulance service provider, American Medical Response. Governing body members will consider increasing the franchise application fee from $25 to $1,500, keeping the business fee at $25, and raising the initial franchise fee and renewal fee for each ambulance from $14 to $275.

County Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler plan Monday to consider issuing taxable industrial revenue bonds in the amount of an estimated $75 million to enable 29 Fairlawn LLC to create its proposed Wheatfield Village development on 14.7 acres at the northwest corner of S.W. 29th and Fairlawn Road.

The project would include a Marriott hotel, an apartment complex, a nine-screen movie theater, a Johnny’s Tavern, a PT’s Coffee and a SPIN! Pizza. The bonds would not be a debt of the county.

Commissioners also plan to consider issuing taxable industrial revenue bonds in the amount of an estimated $25.3 million to enable AIM Strategies LLC to create a development featuring the proposed 109-room Cyrus Hotel in the 900 block of S. Kansas Avenue. The bonds would not be a debt of the county.

Commissioners also plan to:

— Hear a presentation regarding county and township roads in Shawnee County from county counselor Jim Crowl and Tom Vlach, director of public works and the solid waste department.

— Consider approving the purchase from multiple providers of insurance coverage for the county’s real and personal property. A document in the agenda packet for Monday’s meeting indicated the acceptance of the bids — which the county acquired while working with Willis of Greater Kansas Inc. — would mean the county in 2018 would pay $802,439 for insurance, up from $762,340 in 2017.

— Consider appointing a Silver Lake Township trustee to replace Greg Abbott, who resigned.

— Hear an update on the county’s revenues and expenditures so far this year.

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

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