Goessel considers housing as ‘do or die’ solution

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA GOERZEN
The Goessel City Council spent a considerable amount time at its Jan. 16 meeting discussing a possible housing development across the street from the elementary school to the south.

Todd Loescher, who works with public finance, said it would be the city’s responsibility to extend sewer and water service up to the development. The developer would pay for the gas, electricity, and streets.

According to Stuart Porter, engineer for Schwab-Eaton, the project would cost the city $8,500 to $12,000 per year for 20 years.

Porter was not at the meeting, but he had attended a special meeting Jan. 5, along with Loescher, council members, and Duane and Karen Unruh, Verney and Jeremy Voth, and Ron Dirksen. Duane Unruh had also been in previous discussions with the council.

As discussed at the Jan. 5 special meeting, if the housing development becomes reality, it might be called Harvest Meadow and could consist of one-fourth to one-third acre lots with concrete streets, curb, and gutter.

Initial plans would include developing 14 lots, with 39 total lots available eventually.

At the Jan. 16 meeting, the council voiced support for the project, while at the same time expressing concern that taxes not be raised to support it.

Councilor Larry Lindeman ask where the money would come from, and asked about local taxes. “That’s a major concern for a lot of people.

Councilor Jim Wiens said, “We have to be careful not to touch the sewer and water because we’re paying for new water (tower) and new sewer.”

Councilor Larry Schmidt said some people who talked to him don’t want their debt service fee to go for someone else’s development.

While voicing support for helping the city grow, he said, “I just want to protect the other people in town, too.”

City Clerk Anita Goertzen said the city’s water and sewer rates had not been high enough to qualify for revolving loans for the new water tower and the new sewer.

Instead of raising rates, however, she said the city decided to institute a debt service fee for 20 years to pay for the two revolving loans.

Goertzen said the debt service fee for the loans is only for the water tower and sewer projects; it is not used for anything else.

Goertzen asked Loescher if bonds would be issued for the housing development.

He said they would be for 20 years, but temporary notes would be issued first.

Loescher reviewed estimates for property taxes on houses in the development and revenue from water and sewer fees. Through the county’s revitalization plan, the county is offering a rebate of 90 percent on taxes for the first two years, 80 percent the next year, 70 percent, the next, and so on until the 11th year, when the property is fully taxed.

Therefore, Mayor Peggy Jay said, “It will be 10 years till we get any tax revenue from it, but we don’t get any tax revenue from it now.”

Loescher felt such a housing development would have a positive impact on the city. School enrollment was mentioned.

Councilor Duane Duerksen said, “Goessel is in a do or die situation.

“We have a very strong school system,” he added. “We have something good…. We need to support it….”

Duerksen moved that the council proceed with the project. Schmidt said the school system draws people in and felt this housing development would help the school.

Said Duerksen, “There are a lot of people who work here but don’t live here.”

The discussion also included costs of operating a housing development.

Schmidt said, “You’ve got to look at the positive side of this. We’re going to get it back in taxes.”

Duerksen’s motion received a second and passed. The council asked Loescher what the council’s next steps should be.

Loescher said the city will need to look at annexation proceedings and plats. He said Unruh needs to come back with a firm plan. He said the marketing plan will be the key to the development’s success.

In other business, the council:

  • discussed selling the snow plow. Public Works Director Joe Base suggested contacting Lyle Christ about selling it on e-Bay. The buyer would be responsible for picking up the snow plow; the city would not deliver it.
  • affirmed Rick Freeman as a new council member. He replaces Racquel Thiesen, who resigned. He was assigned water and burnsite supervision, which had been under the jurisdiction of Schmidt. Schmidt switched to park supervision.

    Other council members retained their positions: Larry Lindeman, streets; Duane Duerksen, equipment; and James Wiens, wastewater.

  • wished to inform the community that the park shelter house calendar and key are now kept at the city office. Those who wish to use the shelter house must contact the city clerk to reserve the building and get a key from the clerk.
  • heard Base report that the fence at the new burnsite is done, and he is working on the gate. City residents will need to pay $50 to obtain a key for the burnsite. However, they may borrow a key for no cost.

    Schmidt reminded the council to check when residents come to borrow a key to be sure there is nothing illegal in their load. He also said the burnsite needs to be checked periodically for illegal material.

  • heard on Base’s report as police chief that he had worked one accident and one child-custody dispute, served one arrest warrant, and worked one vandalism case.
  • heard City Clerk Anita Goertzen report vandalism that occurred at the city building sometime between 10 p.m., Jan. 5, and 5 a.m. the next morning.

    It appeared someone who apparently had a key entered the building and poured floor cleaner and waxes on the hall floor.

    Base said he will rekey the city building. He suggested the building be routinely rekeyed.

  • heard Chet Roberts, representing the Goessel Task Force, say he would like to be involved with the city to work for improvements and to help with economic growth.
  • discussed a black labrador dog that has not been confined. Its owner has not been feeding it and is seeking a new home for it.
  • heard that Base planned to attend a class in Abilene later in the week and that Goertzen planned to attend the Region 5 Kansas Association for Court Clerks Conference in Winfield.

    Assistant clerk Paula Flaming will work in the city office in Goertzen’s absence.

  • went into executive session at the Jan. 5 meeting to discuss personnel and wages. In open session, the council voted to give a 3 percent pay raise to the city clerk and public works director.
  • heard at the special meeting that the final inspection of the sewer system had not been completed. The one-year warranty will begin on the date the contractor signs the necessary documents.
  • scheduled a special meeting for 8 p.m., Jan. 23, to discuss policies and to further review wages.
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