Yesterday the Abilene Commission met for a study session to discuss four points.
When the meeting was open for public comment, Abilene Police Chief Anna Hatter presented Abilene City Court Administrator Leann Johnson with a certificate of appreciation for her work in leading the process. procurement and transition of Abilene City Court to the new police court computer system. . Hatter said Johnson worked overtime to learn and get the system on top of his normal workload.
“(Leann) realized when she got the (old) system we had did not meet the needs of our court and did not allow her to provide the level of service to citizens that she thought we should be,” Hatter said.
Moving on to the first point, the panel then discussed and heard public comments on the proposed airport spill prevention, containment and control plan. The proposed plan is in response to the aerial sprayer spill that happened last year, city manager Ron Marsh said.
“In this situation, no chemicals reached groundwater penetration. However, without more oversight and updated requirements for secondary containment, we may be out of luck next time,” Marsh said.
The plan was created by Jay Leusman, superintendent of the Abilene water treatment plant, and Michael Blacketer, water operator, and reviewed by several city staff. Marsh said the SPCC’s two main goals were protecting the public water supply and not making the plan so restrictive that aerial sprayers couldn’t work.
“I have read the plan and I am extremely impressed with what you have been able to accomplish. Good job,” Commissioner Wendy Miller told Leusman and Blacketer, who were present at the meeting.
Next up on the podium is Reed Coop, an agricultural retailer. He and his father, Dale Koop, worried that the SPCC was too restrictive in several areas. Reed Koop said the pilots himself and his father also spoke about concerns about the SPCC.
“If you were to go and look at the standards (from the US Environmental Protection Agency) and the standards from the state of Kansas, they’re very, very restrictive,” Reed Koop said. “An example I have is, here he mentions that bulk materials should be considered a gallon or more. If you go to the EPA, their standards for bulk materials are 55 gallons or more.
Reed Koop said SPCC restrictions could lead him and Dale Koop to stop flying planes out of the airport and go to another airport. Trevor Witt, vice mayor, asked the Koops to create a list of parts of the SPCC that they believe are too restrictive for city staff to review. Marsh said to email Marcus Rothchild, the city’s chief financial officer, or himself about their concerns.
By the way, Marsh said the city plans to make improvements to the airport this year no later than the fall.
The second item of the study regarding office renovations at City Hall was removed before the session, Marsh said. New information and conflicts uncovered by Rothchild and Marsh led them to make the decision to withhold the article until a later date.
The committee then discussed the element of the memorandum sent by legal counsel representing VoteAmerica to Abilene and several other cities in Kansas. The memorandum instructed the city not to enforce Section 7.5(a)(2) of the Uniform Public Offense Code. The section allows groups to recommend citizens to sign up for an advanced mail-in ballot request and prevents groups from sending requests that have citizens’ names and information printed on them. VoteAmerica currently has a lawsuit pending against the State of Kansas, arguing that the article is unconstitutional. The judge in the case granted a motion for a preliminary injunction because the court would likely find the case unconstitutional, according to the memorandum. Since Abilene adopted this article in UPOC, the memorandum instructs the city not to enforce this article. Martin said the city court would not enforce that section after discussion and response to the memorandum from Martin and city attorney Dustin Mullin. The city commission could also repeal that section if it chooses, Martin said.
UPOC is essentially a “comprehensive criminal offense code,” said city attorney Aaron Martin, which incorporates state criminal laws into the city’s local code. The League of Municipalities of Kansas created and updated UPOC annually with the latest changes. Cities can then adopt the code as an ordinance with or without modifications by city staff.
The next element of the study was the offers of cleaning services. Marsh said the city has not reviewed its cleaning contracts for City Hall administrative offices, the Abilene Seniors Center and the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau since 2007. The bids came from CooperClean for $2,700, IServe Facilities for $5,866 and The Garson Group for $5,500. Witt said he would not vote on the issue next week due to a conflict of interest.
Commissioners then spoke with Divyesh Patel, owner of the Budget Lodge in Abilene, about the study point of converting the Budget Lodge to Section 8 housing. The discussion was a first step to see if the commission wanted the transition to go smoothly. happen, Marsh said.
Following Marsh’s summary of the article, Patel took to the podium to introduce himself, explain the low-income housing program, and explain how he wanted to see if the program would be possible in Abilene. After being questioned by Dee Marshall, the city’s mayor, Patel said the city would have to apply for a federal grant to win the program, and the federal government approves the grant to almost every group that applies. The property would also be remodeled to meet program requirements. Witt said that since the program would require the Budget Lodge property to go through rezoning, Patel should contact the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation about setting up the program. Marshall said she’s not convinced the Budget Lodge is an “ideal location” for Section 8 housing.
“I just see a lot of issues involved in this process that we can’t deal with quickly through a meeting,” Marshall said.
The Abilene Commission will meet again for a town meeting on April 11 at 4 p.m.