Humboldt finances due a review



February 11, 2014 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Chanute City Clerk Rebecca Woods will look at Humboldt city finances, to see where money might be saved and reserves rebuilt. The review is expected to take about eight weeks and cost $4,000.
Mayor Nobby Davis said Woods had cleared the project with Chanute officials, and noted she had a role in Chanute’s financial analysis.
“I think having an outside party, another set of eyes, look at our finances will be helpful,” said Vada Aikins, a council member. “This isn’t being done because of any problems,” just to give a different perspective.
Davis pointed out auditors had recommended an outside review of finances, with emphasis on rebuilding reserves.
Asked his opinion, City Attorney Fred Works said the arrangement seemed prudent.
“A lot has happened in the last five to six years, a lot of projects that have taken down reserves,” Works said.
Council members approved the proposal unanimously, with two of the eight — Sunny Shreeve and Jo Ann Roether — absent.
Davis said the review would start immediately, which will give time to incorporate any findings into preparation of the 2015 budget. Deadline for budget completion is late July.
Cindy Hollingsworth was sworn in to fill a council vacancy. She replaces Bryan Manion to represent position 3 in the Second Ward. Hollingsworth, 52, has been a resident of  Humboldt since 1973. She commutes to Fredonia where she is warehouse manager for Radiant Electric.

AFTER LENGTHY discussion council members authorized Davis to negotiate purchase of a new generator, fired with natural gas, for the wastewater treatment plant. Cost will be limited to $25,000.
The old diesel generator, in place for 14 years, could be repaired for $6,000 to $7,000, but council members agreed going with a new one would alleviate concerns for many years to come. Its purchase was recommended by Roger Vincent, wastewater supervisor.
The generator comes into play when power to the plant fails, which doesn’t occur very often, Vincent said, but would quickly complicate matters without a backup.
The city is in the midst of wastewater system improvements — new lift stations and related things have been completed — and the second phase includes electrical upgrades. They are estimated at $30,000 for a transfer switch, engineering and installation, including the generator.
All will be paid through a loan, with 2.6 percent interest, from Kansas Department of Health and Environment. City Administrator Larry Tucker said he was assured by KDHE that cost of the generator could be folded into the low-interest loan.

COUNCIL MEMBERS agreed to support a grant application to the Kansas Historical Society that would fund 60 percent of a survey to determine structures of historical significance in Humboldt.
The grant would provide $7,500 of estimated cost of $12,500. The Downtown Action Team has $2,000 in hand and additional local match of $3,000 would come from in-kind administration and volunteers for the survey. No city funds would be involved, although city staff may help with administration, Tucker said.
The survey would determine which properties in the downtown area — about 45 — and eight others throughout Humboldt might qualify for historic preservation. That would lead to formation of a historic district and give property owners an avenue to apply for grants and other financial assistance to make repairs within historical context.

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