No tax increase as Valley Falls poised for big projects
by Clarke Davis
Valley Falls residents will see no increase in their ad valorem tax on the budget submitted by the city council this week. However, a couple of projects being discussed will use reserve funds.
The mill levy will remain at 36.9, the same as the current budget. The hearing will be held at a special meeting called for that purpose at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23.
Rerouting the water distribution lines to better balance the usage from the town’s two water towers is one project the council wants to do next year. This is also the first step in bringing housing to the Barnes Subdivision. It’s believed the approximate cost of $172,000 can be financed out of the water fund.
The second project is completing a new city hall building on Broadway projected to cost $100,000. The mayor and council are considering using idle funds now in certificates of deposit to finance this project and repay it over time.
Two larger projects, bringing streets and sewer service to the Barnes Subdivision and making extensive improvements at the sewer lagoons, will be studied but not financed for at least another year.
Alex Darby, an engineer with Professional Engineering Consultants, Topeka, brought plans for renovating the plumbing, valves, and motors at the lagoons to a city council work session July 27.
The lagoon system, built for a town more than twice the size of Valley Falls in the early 1950s, has needed extensive work since the late 1970s, according to utilities superintendent Daryl Courter.
He said it can be limped along and done in piecemeal fashion unless that doesn’t meet muster with the state Department of Health and Environment. Courter said he would have other officials visit the council to keep them informed on what needs to be done and the best way to go about it.
City administrator Chris Channell believes the state would have a program whereby up to 45 percent of a loan might be foregiven if the entire project was undertaken somewhere around the cost of $1.2 million.
But he said this could cost each of the city’s 440 households $8.63 a month on the sewer bill.
An official with the Kansas Rural Water Association was in town Friday morning to meet with a few officials and tour the lagoons in order to help advise the city on how best to proceed.
In other business, the council renewed its employee health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield, which went down in cost at about $100 per employee per month.
Rich Shaffer, an Army retiree and officer with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, was hired to serve as a part-time city police officer at the suggestion of Police Chief Josh Pence.
Mayor Charles Stutesman presided at the work session and the Aug. 3 meeting. Councilwoman Jo Tichenor missed both meetings and councilman Mike Hahn was not present at the last meeting.
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