City council hears of county budget reductions to emergency services

Jeff Guy

The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 was felt in a letter sent by the County County Commission to the city of Wellington and Fire/EMS Director Tim Hay.

City Manager Shane Shields talked to the Wellington City Council about the letter during its Tuesday meeting. The letter said due to COVID-19, a reduction in funds for the remainder of 2020 is expected. The reductions could be as much as eight percent of anticipated funding, and the reductions could go on into the 2021 calendar year if the revenue doesn’t rebound.

An eight percent reduction in the ambulance subsidy would be $21,039 from the expected budget and subsidy amount of $262,992, the same amount budgeted for 2021.

“We did receive a receipt from the county that was $1,750 was less than normal,” Hay told the council. “It has gone down already.”

The council agreed reductions were something to be aware of, but it did not take any action at that time.

In other business:

City Public Works Director Jeremy Jones told the council he needed its approval to apply

for a Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) grant for Transportation Alternative (TA) funds for the East 16th Street pedestrian/bicycle trail project. Under the project, a 10-foot wide concrete path would be designed and built to extend from the roundabout to Woodlawn Avenue along the north side of 16th Street/U.S. 160 Hwy.

KDOT would reimburse the city 80 percent of the costs of construction. The city would have to have 20% matching funds for design. The estimated cost of the project is $453,743 with KDOT reimbursing $320,289.

Jones told the council that since he sent the memo, an updated estimate had come in that could be up to $542,713 due to right of way acquisition and utility acquisition relocation. The KDOT funds would only cover construction, not design, right of way or utilities so the worst case scenario would be that the city would be responsible for $222,424, which would be $88,970 more than expected.

“Obviously, during design, we will look at any cost saving methods we can do,” Jones said. “We’ll try to stay around the right of way and utilities as much as possible and I’m pretty confident we’re not going to spend that 80 plus thousand they had to add in there.”

Jones told the council the sidewalk would be where people tend to already walk or ride their bikes and where many of the businesses they are headed to are located. The council approved applying for the grant. If approved, the project would take place in Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023.

The council approved the city manager executing a purchase order with Waldorf-Riley, a

Wellington company to install air conditioning in Memorial Auditorium for $42,480 - money available through the SPARKS (Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas) grant, which has come through the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security) Act.

The city sent requests for proposals to eight local and Wichita HVAC businesses. The bids were publicly opened Oct. 27. The funding request and installation is to be complete before Dec. 30.

Russel Ray, with the VFW, requested the city change the organization’s utility rates service type to interdependent/other, which all city facilities and departments and several not for profit agencies are under. The council granted the request.