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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2018 Budget Tops Baldwin City Council Agenda

Kevin Surbaugh

The first Council meeting of  August for Baldwin City was called to order by Mayor Marilyn Pearse who immediately went into a public hearing for the 2018 budget. Council-Member A. J. Stevens was absent. Former City Council-Member Ted Brecheisen was concerned about the proposed one mill increase in the budget. City Finance Director, Brad Smith, said, that an expected fifteen percent increase in health insurance costs is in the budget. While he appreciates some on fixed incomes may have a hard time. However, he continued, "the cost of services this city provides does not stay flat."
Once the regular meeting began the council took up ordinance 1379, which was the 2018 budget. which included the .95 mill increase mentioned in the public hearing of the meeting.  Council-MmeberTony Brown stated concern to the mill levy increase. Especially coupled with the two-mill increase from the County Commission in Lawrence. With that, he encouraged the city to be lean, and save the money. "It is ridiculous the has put has put the city in this position," Brown concluded, before casting his yes vote. The budget passed unanimously 4-0.

Ken Hoffman, Code Administrator
Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
Also on the agenda was a report from Jeanette Blackmar in regards to the Performance Highlights of the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce.  Her report included a synopsis of who the Chamber is. According to Blackmar, the chamber is a membership-based non-profit that is pro-business. With 156 members this year, the Chamber has the largest membership ever, up from 98 members in June 2016.  Blackmar said, that the Chamber has many forms of communication with the public and membership, but she hopes to integrate many of their communications with Baldwin City Radio and area papers including the Gazette.  As she concluded her presentation she encourages everyone the city to engage the chamber by liking and sharing their Facebook page, "Visit Baldwin City," and to subscribe to their email blast.

The council also received twelve bids for the construction of the new Public Works building. The bids were pretty tight, ranging from $2.4 million to $2.78 million. Combes Construction had the lowest bid. In the proposal, there were several items that were considered optional, which could lower the costs.  The most expensive item, which the council much time debating was a wash bay. An item that if kept in the project would allow the salt trucks to washed on a regular basis. Which in turn would help prevent the trucks from rusting from the corrosive salt.  A fact that Brown felt would make the bay pay for itself. The low bid was approved on a vote of 3-1, with Darnell casting the dissenting vote.

In other business:

  • Pearse introduced Ken Hoffman as the new City Codes Administrator.

  • The council heard about ordinance 1378, amending the zoning text. If it is approved, it will change the set backs for new subdivisions, of four lots or more, from 30 feet to 25 feet.  It will not affect existing neighborhoods. No action was taken but will move to old business at the next meeting.

  • Unanimously approved 4-0, Resolution 2017-12, which sets in motion the paving of First Street.
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