Will Ravenstein

Wellington Daily News

The Wellington City Council narrowly approved a resolution Tuesday, July 18, with regards to signing a new contract with the Kansas Power Pool.

With two members missing, Jan Korte and Bill Butts, the resolution was at two for the contract and two against it with Mayor Shelley Hansel casting the tie-breaking vote.

City Manager Shane Shield informed the council that this was the KPP contract that had been discussed since December.

“This is the new proposed agreement, it provides the term begins from the effective date and continue on a period ending on the later of 20 years or the date the principal and premium are paid on all bonds,” Shields said. “Not withstanding any provisions to the contrary the term shall continue to all indebtedness occurred with regard to any project is paid in full. However the term shall not exceed 40 years from the effective date.”

Shields stated that City staff recommended the approval of the contract signing by the council.

KPP CEO/General Manager, Mark Chesney, was on hand to answer any further questions by the council.

Council member Vince Wetta, who voted against the resolution, stated that he thought long and hard about this.

“I’m going to vote no, and I want you to know it’s nothing against you,” Wetta said. “I think you guys are doing a good job for what you do. Some of the issues we have handled on this committee — the raw water issue was something that decisions were made on 60 years ago or longer. The hospital issues is something that years and years ago decisions were made. We’ve had several issues that decisions were made years and years ago. I have a hard time tying the City of Wellington to something that is perpetuity. Forty-years in the contract. But, what’s going to happen is as we go through there will be more contracts.”

Wetta expressed his concern that there was no escape clause built into the contract either.

“If things change 40-years from now,” he said “This contract is still in effect.”

Council member Kelly Hawley verified that city staff recommended the signing.

“City staff recommends approval, yes,” Shields said. “As you know, Winfield had been one of the last ones to sign also. We met with the Winfield City Manager. We discussed the issues involved and their decision to sign the contract. Being the two largest members of the KPP, we feel there are issues that need to be addressed.”

Shields stated the some of the issues are being discussed at the KPP Board level. He reminded the council that they are comparing the contract against the unknown.

“What our ability would be to negotiate future power contracts as an individual entity,” he said. “That’s an unknown. Nobody can predict the future. We feel the risk is far too great in that respect and after consideration over the last few months, staff is for the recommendation.”

Hawley referred to a previous study done stating that it would be cheaper to purchase power than for Wellington to Generate it’s own.

“In the future for producing our own power, again is an unknown,” Shields said.

Utility Director Jason Jones followed up Shields stating it was cheaper to buy.

“Hands down it’s cheaper to purchase power from the KPP than to make our own,” Jones said.

Chesney informed the council that if they chose to sign, Wellington would be the 23rd of 24 cities to sign. The lone hold out is Attica who is taking care of issues in distribution and operation of their utility right now.

Council member Jim Valentine stated that he did some soul searching and stated he could not look that far into the future, before voting not.

Council members Kip Etter and Kelley Hawley voted for the resolution.