The City is sweetening the pot for local property owners to repair or replace their street-front sidewalks.
While maintaining sidewalks is a property owner’s responsibility, the city reimburses those costs — up to $1,250 for residents; $2,500 for commercial property owners — through its sidewalk replacement program.
At the urging of Code Enforcement Officer Shonda Jefferis, Iola City Council members agreed at their meeting Tuesday night to pay $1.75 per square foot of concrete, up from $1.25 per square foot.
The lower reimbursement rate “barely covers the cost of concrete, and that’s if everything works right — which it rarely does,” Jefferis said.
The Council also agreed to waive the city’s $50 right-of-way fee property owners were required to pay in order to repair the sidewalks.
The sidewalk replacement program has been in place for years, City Administrator Carl Slaugh said.
“We don’t have resources or time to do full-scale replacement on our own,” Slaugh explained. “The city has been willing to provide funding (for concrete) if residents are willing to put forth the labor.”
FIREWORKS will be on sale a bit earlier this year in Iola’s city limits.
Council members agreed to open fireworks sales beginning June 27.
In the few years fireworks have been legal in Iola, sales began on June 29.
The motion to change the fireworks law came after council members heard from Virginia Macha, speaking on behalf of the Allen County Animal Rescue Facility.
Macha noted the earlier sales date would permit vendors to be open two weekends prior to July 4 this year.
The June 27 opening date puts Iola in line with Allen County and state laws, which permit fireworks sales one week prior to Independence Day.
Sales will again be legal on July 5.
THE CITY will replace most of the distinctive crosswalk signs to better alert motorists to potential pedestrians crossing the street.
The signs have been erected each summer since 2012, but have also been battered by passing vehicles.
While the signs are flexible and designed to withstand some vehicle strikes, the constant battering has rendered many unusable.
Council members agreed to replace 10 of the original 14; one along Miller Road at the Prairie Spirit Trail crossing; three around Lincoln Elementary School; one near the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, one at State Street’s entrance to Riverside Park, and one along each side of the courthouse square. The lower number is because the square used to have two such signs at each pedestrian crossing area.
The cost to replace the signs — $274 apiece — comes to $2,740.
Councilman Aaron Franklin voted against the replacement, acknowledging afterward he didn’t realize that some of the signs would be kept around the square. Had he known some would have been kept, he would have voted for the motion.
COUNCIL members also:
— Approved purchase of a mini excavator from from Victor L. Phillips Co., Joplin, for $41,900, the lower of two bids.
The Hyundai Mini X is smaller than a typical excavator and allows city employees to work in tight spaces. While it will be used most frequently within the city’s gas, water and wastewater department, it could be utilized by other departments when needed.
— Authorized the city to hire Mid-States Energy Works, Salina, to provide on-call electric engineering services.
The firm will be contacted when electric engineering support is needed for such projects as the upcoming Gates Corporation expansion. Payment will be determined either on a time-and-material aid or a quoted price set forth by a work order.
— Accepted a bid from Vance Brothers, Kansas City, Mo., to provide oil for the city’s chip-seal contract. The Vance Brothers bid of $1.99 per gallon was the lower of two received and is 29 cents per gallon less than what the city paid in 2014.
Council members also gave the go-ahead for chip-seal projects in the northwest quadrant of the city. Total cost is expected to be about $240,000.
— Gave the go-ahead for Jefferis to begin the process of selecting an engineering firm to help oversee a Safe Routes to School project.
The city recently received a $15,000 grant to begin a Safe Routes to School plan that will then be used to apply for a larger grant. Having the engineering firm on hand would greatly enhance the city’s ability to secure a larger grant, Jefferis said.
— Agreed the city should bring in a grant administrator to assist the city as it looks at applying for Community Development Block Grant funds.
Jefferis briefed Council members on potential grants for housing rehabilitation, water and sewer upgrades, community facilities, economic development and commercial rehabilitation.