September 20, 2021 Special Meeting Minutes

September 20, 2021 Special Meeting Minutes

September 20, 2021 Special Meeting Minutes

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Special Commission Work Session

September 20, 2021                                                                                                                          4:00 P.M.

Mayor John Garcia called the meeting to order with Vice-Mayor Jay Dee Brumbaugh and Commissioner J. J. Howard responding to roll call.  Commissioner Gary Farris and Commissioner Aaron Thompson were reported absent.

Also present were Dustin Bedore – Director of Electric Utilities, Joshua Jordan – IT Director, Kenton Keith – Director of Streets and Facilities, Neal Thornburg – Director of Water and Wastewater, Danny Krayca – Director of Parks, Mary Volk – City Clerk, and Cherise Tieben – Interim City Manager. 


  1. Health Insurance Committee Discussion – Dustin stated, I would like to thank our committee members for their work.  We received six proposals and interviewed four; NFP (Eklund Insurance), IMA, USI and PIC.  All interviews were enlightening and we feel any will be able to provide the service.  During interviews we concentrated on their ability to work with staff, meeting financial goals of the City, the variety of carriers to bid health insurance and willingness to enter into a fee neutral agreement.  In the Committee’s opinion, IMA is best option.  They work with our workman compensation insurance and we feel in a couple years we will continue to see savings.  IMA will provide individual staff dedicated to our account.  They are unique in that they work with KMIT and provide service to cities of similar size.  IMA will pass prescription rebates back to plan which will reduce our costs.  They have had experience working with border-states, and offered to work a commission neutral agreement for $20,000.  They will begin work immediately, but will not bill City for services until agreement with PIC can be terminated without penalty.  Mayor Garcia asked, will it be through BCBS?  Cherise stated, it is unknown as they will solicit bids from numerous different carriers.  BCBS will be one of the carriers they request a proposal.  Dustin stated, they indicated that over 65% of their plans do not have BCBS.  Mayor Garcia stated, there are contractual concerns that need to be addressed.  Cherise stated, I am working with Jake on those concerns.  Mayor Garcia stated, I am comfortable with the committee recommendation.  Dustin stated, each department is represented on the committee so we have been educating employees.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, I appreciate the hard work from staff and agree.  Commissioner Howard stated, I agree with recommendation and appreciate committee working on project.  Cherise stated, I will continue working with Dustin and Jake to clear up concerns, especially the commission versus fee neutral contract.
  2. Electric Contract – Dustin stated,we have again been approached by Sunflower Electric to extend our contract.  It was a fifteen year contract with five years remaining on contract.  It is not a good contract which was evident by February event.  I recommend the City ride out contract with no extension.  When we renew contract, I feel we should look at all options available.  I do not feel we have been treated well with this contract.  They offered a five, ten or fifteen year extension.  If we agree to five year extension, the City is tied to the contract until 2031.  They are not offering a lot of benefit to the City.  They indicated they would cut the mill adder, which we should not be paying for anyway.  In any of the options, they continue to control all our generation.  They have discussed there may become a time when the Sunflower pool becomes power deficient.  The City would never become power deficient because we can generate everything our community needs.  They discuss a fixed energy rate, but they ratchet the cost every two to three years, which is not a fixed rate.  The mill adder has always been a concern with the billing when we purchase from Sunflower Electric, but Prairieland Electric adds the mill adder since our billing goes through them.  I do not feel Sunflower Electric is coming with their best presentation.  We have the ability to carry our load with our equipment.  Right now the City pays for our plant to be an emergency operation.  If we enter into a new contract, I would ensure that if the cost to purchase power reaches or exceeds our cost to generate, that we generate for our community and not pay additional costs.  When we start looking at options, we need to have control of our generation and watch that no mill adder is added to contract.  Riding out the contract to seek for a better option for the City is my recommendation.  Another provider is offering four cent power and right now we are paying around seven cents.  Mayor Garcia asked, is that cost consistent?  Dustin stated, we are in a contract but a couple years ago they changed the demand charge and added one month of demand.  I feel this is a one way contract.  The City is not allowed to peak shave anymore, where we had saved a lot of money for the City.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, I feel they need to be reminded of that every time they come to the table.  Dustin stated, they used to visit Goodland twice a year to make sure all was going well; with this contract they do not check on us.  Mayor Garcia asked, so we have other parties interested in power contract?  Dustin stated, yes you can look at Nebraska Power Pool or KMEA.  Cherise stated, if Commission is comfortable, we will submit a letter to them stating we are not interested in an extension unless these recommendations are brought to the table. Dustin stated, we will start negotiating in two and half years.  Mayor Garcia stated, I was disappointed when they visited in 2020 and we asked if they decided to formulate a new contract, to highlight every clause that would benefit our community.  We have yet to see it.  They are not putting forth their best effort to help our community.  I agree with Dustin at this point.  Dustin stated, we need to remember the ECA which is a trashcan for all costs they do not want to incur.  I would like to know what goes in the calculation.  There needs to be a cap on it because it is an exorbitant cost. Any additional costs they incur are put in the ECA for us to bear the cost.  Commissioner Howard stated, we should not pay more than our cost to generate. 
  3. Backyard Chickens – Cherise stated, we have researched backyard chickens and provided information.  It is becoming an issue throughout Kansas.  Some cities now allowing them are finding the rumors are not happening.  Wamego is an example and they do not have issues.  They had a dog at large issue, but it was taken care of by a fenced in back yard with a fenced in coop.  I feel if it is done right, it is a good deal.  Many are concerned about the natural organic issue and can control it with their own chickens.  Cities that put it into place have regulations.  Animal control was not in favor.  I feel some of their concerns are the presumptions out there.  You have to study it and address issues in your ordinance.  I recommend enforcement by Code Enforcement, not animal control.  There is information pertaining to limitations on the number of hens and roosters.  There are many more cities that were against them in the past, but they now allow chickens.  It is surprising that many of the cities are in metropolitan areas.  I need guidance from Commission.  If you want to allow, I recommend stringent regulations.  Meghan Weis recommended offering a class to maintain chickens and coop.  She would be willing to put the class on through Farm Bureau.  Mayor Garcia stated, we need all Commissioners present to make a decision like this.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, I feel we should have Code Enforcement in place before we allow.  Cherise stated, I would not recommend allowing until January or even spring so you know what codes need to be looked at.  There is quite a bit of work to put this into place quickly.  Vice-Mayor Brumbaugh stated, I feel Code Enforcement should know what they are required to enforce.  Cherise stated, I am hearing the Commission may be interested in proceeding, but to wait until we have Code Enforcement in place. 

ADJOURNMENT of Special Work Session was at 4:50 p.m.


ATTEST:                                                                                John Garcia, Mayor


Mary P. Volk, City Clerk