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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 03/13/17 (Budget, City Pay Raises, ADA Playgrounds, Search Committee, County Sales Tax, Golf Carts, Service Bids, School Expansion, Marriott Taxes)

Chillicothe City Council members unanimously passed a resolution in support of Livingston County's proposed half-cent sales tax issue that will be on the April 4 ballot. With a 5-0 vote during the regular City Council meeting, council members voiced support of the proposal. The resolution, in part, states that the county commissioners and the city have worked closely and collaboratively to provide needed services to the residents of their respective political subdivision; that the current sales tax for the support of county services is the lowest local county sales and use tax of any surrounding county and that the commissioners have made a strong case for raising the local county sales and use tax to support the activities of Livingston County; and that the mayor and council believe that the citizens of Livingston County will benefit from the proposed use of such local county sales tax and use tax if approved, including improvement of the county 911 system, improvement of county roads, and improvement of law enforcement. The resolution also states that the proposed increase in the local county sales and use tax would leave Livingston County's local sales tax below the average of surrounding county local sales taxes. The resolution states that the mayor and council urge all citizens of Livingston County to turn out to the polls on April 4 and to vote in favor of the county sales tax question for the benefit of Livingston County and its citizens.

Chillicothe City Council members approved lease-purchase agreements of a golf fleet package for the city-owned Green Hills Golf Course. The agreements include a conditional sales agreement with Yamaha commercial customer finance and a repurchase agreement with Yamaha Golf-Car Company. The agreement authorizes the lease purchase of a fleet package consisting of 50 golf cars and two utility vehicles. The agreements include a conditional sales agreement and a repurchase agreement with Yamaha Golf-Car Company to purchase the fleet at the end of the lease. The agreement is for 50 golf-cars, rather than 60, which is what the course currently has. However, because of the city's contract with Great Life Kansas City which manages the golf course, resources are available to add carts when they are needed. The monthly payment is $2,063 for the golf cars; and $79.23 and $126.88 for each of the utility cars. The payments will be for 60 months. At the end of 60 months, Yamaha will buy back the vehicles: $93,750 for the golf cars, and $1,100 and $1,350 on the utility cars.

Chillicothe City Council members approved the following bids during their regular meeting...

  • Mowing services - Graber Outdoor Services. The bid is for supplying mowing services for cede enforcement purposes and for mowing services for Gravesville Park and/or Mills Park, if needed, as directed by the parks director. The bid, approved unanimously by the council, is for $30 per hour. Graber Outdoor Services was the lowest of two bids received.

  • Sidewalk Concrete - Penny's Concrete Inc., (PCI). The bid is for providing concrete material for the city sidewalks improvement program. The bid, approved unanimously by the council, is for $99.10 per cubic yard, Penny's submitted the lowest of two bids. The higher bid was $111.40.

  • Gasoline - MFA Oil Company. The bid is for bulk oil, fuel, and self-service pump regular, unleaded and diesel fuel and associated services required by vehicles used by the police, fire, ambulance, golf course, street and park department. MFA's bid was the only bid submitted and was unanimously approved by the council.

  • Farming - Wheeling Farms, LLC. The bid is for cash farming operations for one year on approximately 137 acres, located on the 170-acre tract of the city of Chillicothe Industrial Park, south of Highway 36. Three bids were submitted, ranging from $95 per acre to $187 per acre. Council members unanimously approved the high bid, which amounts to a total bid of $25,619.

By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY 03/15/17 C-T
Chillicothe City Council members continued budget work Monday evening and unanimously supported a plan that would reinstate pay raises for city employees. Raises looked doubtful when the preliminary budget draft was presented to council members during a budget workshop a week ago; however, a reallocation of general sales tax revenue will allow for the raises. In the 2016-17 budget year, 65 percent of the city's general sales tax was set aside for the general fund and 35 percent was set aside for the street fund. What the city has now proposed is 70 percent going to the city's general fund and 30 percent going to the city's street fund. By doing this, the projected sales tax revenues for the general fund will increase from $1,155,000 to $1,244,000 and free up funds to give city employees a 2 percent pay raise. The reduced revenue for the street fund will be more than covered through the use tax, which is anticipated to generate $306,000 during the 2017-18 fiscal year. The reallocation of general sales tax revenues balances the general operating fund, according to City Administrator Ike Holland. Also on the chopping block last week was approximately $100,000 in equipment: body cameras for the police department, a patrol car for the police department, weapons replacement for the police department, picnic tables and benches for the parks, ball park improvements, playground improvements and $12,000 set aside for the demolition of dilapidated houses.

After the new figures were presented on Monday, these items also were put back into the budget. Funds will come from money generated through the sale of property - largely a tract of land sold to Skillpath, the sale of the Wabash railroad depot, and vehicles that were traded in last year. The city had a lease purchase agreement for the Wabash railroad depot with Wabash BBQ that came due last year, at which time Wabash BBQ exercised the option to purchase the building. Funds from the sale of property had not been appropriated in the preliminary budget draft. Now, these funds are going to be set aside for the purchase of equipment. The only item now on the list of cuts from last week is that of a truck for the street department.

The city's 2017-18 fiscal year begins April 1. A public hearing on the budget will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 27, in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY 03/15/17 C-T
A local mother and a grandmother are asking the Chillicothe City Council to provide playground equipment that can be easily accessed and used by individuals with physical limitations. "We have several families in this town with different disabilities," said Kimberly Kimbrough, paternal grandmother to a special needs boy. "Some kids can't use their hands and fingers. Some can't use their legs. Some use crutches to walk with, walkers, wheelchairs... they have different needs. The way the parks are set up now, there's not access. There are no ramps." Additionally, the wood chips used as ground cover at the playground cause wheelchairs to sink when entering the playground, she said. The inability to utilize local playgrounds compounds the day-to-day struggles that children already experience by having some kind of handicap, Kimbrough said. "It's like they are singled out because they have a disability, and they can't participate in things that go on in Simpson Park," she said. Kimbrough and the boy's mother, Kelsie Cooper, attended Monday night's City Council meeting, along with Kelsie's son, Braydon Kimbrough, who uses a wheelchair. Braydon has little to no movement in the majority of his joints. Cooper takes her son to Cameron, 40 miles away, for him to visit a playground. Cameron has an easily accessible playground complete with a ramp that goes to the play equipment, and a path with a slide and other activities. She also noted that the city of Trenton is establishing a handicap-accessible playground. The social benefits of playground activities are stifled for all children when a child with physical limitations is unable to visit a playground, Cooper said. She stated that she feels that the city is not meeting ADA requirements. "At this point, all of this stuff has been brought to my attorney's attention," Cooper stated. "I don't want to go that route, but we need to get something and get these kids involved in the community. We can't put it under the rug for much longer."


CAPTION: The swing set at Simpson Park once had an ADA swing, but the swing broke due to improper usage and was removed a couple years ago. Other ADA swings are at Danner Park and Clay Street Park. C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

The council was receptive of the idea of establishing a handicap-accessible playground area with equipment. "Maybe, we can all get together and make this happen," said Councilman-at-Large David Moore. "We know we need to do it." There is $3,500 set aside in the 2017-18 city budget for playground equipment, of which some will be used to buy handicap-accessible equipment. That amount, however, is not enough to buy a large piece of equipment. City Administrator Ike Holland stated that the city has been trying to make a concerted effort to make all of the city's playgrounds accessible to everyone. "The park board, Josh and myself have been looking at ideas for specialized play areas," Holland stated Tuesday. "This effort will continue. As we do long-range planning, we will include handicap-accessible playground areas." Cooper offered her assistance in helping the council understand some of the ADA rules, working with Parks Director Josh Norris to help identify appropriate playground equipment for children with varying abilities and of different ages. "We are willing to help in any way we can," she said. "We need to figure out something we can do to help you guys, the city and the community, and the other children and the parents of children with disabilities who can't take their children to a park because they have no access." "I feel like if we are paying taxes for parks that should be taxes for parks for everybody in the city." She also noted that people in wheelchairs can't watch their grandchildren play in the parks because the parks are not accessible enough.

Chillicothe City Council members approved the mayor's recommendation to establish a search committee to assist in the selection process for the next city administrator. The committee is being formed following the resignation of Ike Holland, who accepted a city administrator position in Minnesota. Each councilman recommended one individual from his ward to serve on the committee, and those recommendations were forwarded to Mayor Chuck Haney to present the full slate during Monday night's City Council meeting. The committee, as approved unanimously by the council, consists of: Tom Ashbrook (1st Ward), David May (2nd Ward), Dave Rogers (3rd Ward), and Don Ratliff (4thWard). The committee will begin meeting after April 3, the deadline for submitting resumes. The city is advertising for a city administrator appointed by the mayor and five-member council. The successful candidate should have a bachelor's degree in public/municipal administration or related field with 3-5 years experience, a master's degree preferred. Residency is required. Salary is negotiable, based on qualifications.

March 23, 2017 (C-T) - Chillicothe Municipal Utilities and the city of Chillicothe have entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Chillicothe R-2 School District relating to utilities for the new elementary school is being built north of the high school. City Council members unanimously approved the agreement during their regular council meeting last week. The city of Chillicothe will provide the funding initially, but the district will pay the city back with interest over a 10-year period. "It is a cooperative contract and has a 10 year reimbursement," stated Robert Cowherd, Chillicothe city attorney. "We are funding it up front, and they are paying the city back over time." The agreement states that the school is building a new building within the city limits and desires to obtain utilities for the building from the city. In order to serve the school with utilities, the school needs to extend the utility mains from the location of the new building to the existing city utility mains. The agreement further states that in order to ensure that the school will be a long-term customer of the city utilities, the city is willing to pay the cost of construction of the extension of the utility mains from the existing mains to the building on the terms of this agreement. The terms state that the city will pay the costs necessary to build and install the mains from the school to the existing mains for costs not to exceed $425,000 without the express prior written consent of the city. The costs paid by the city will be used solely for the purpose of constructing and installing the utility mains from the building to the existing city utility mains. The mains, when constructed, shall be dedicated to the city and become the property of city. The city shall main responsible for the future maintenance. The agreement also states that the city may recover all costs paid by the city with an interest rate of 2.15 percent over 10 years. The school may repay in advance the unpaid amount of the recovered costs in whole or in part at any time without penalty. The agreement also states that the city will be the sole utility provider for water, sewer, and electricity used by the school for a period of 20 years.

March 24, 2017 (C-T) By Catherine Stortz Ripley - The city of Chillicothe finalized the tax abatement plan for the new $5.8 million Fairfield Inn & Suites in south Chillicothe. Through utilizing Chapter 100 bonds, the city will give Ehrhardts' Macon LLC a 100 percent real estate tax abatement for the first 10 years and a 50 percent real estate tax abatement for 10 more years, according to Robert Cowherd, Chillicothe city attorney. The tax abatement is for real estate taxes only; the city will collect personal property taxes and sales taxes. This tax abatement is similar to that for Comfort Inn & Suites, which is Ehrhardts' Macon LLC's first hotel in Chillicothe. Chillicothe City Council members during their regular meeting last week unanimously approved an ordinance establishing the mechanism to provide the tax abatement by authorizing the issuance of $5,835,000 taxable industrial revenue bonds for the hotel. The city, in 2014, had adopted an ordinance approving a plan for the industrial development project for the purpose of constructing a 37,000 square-foot building with 70 rooms and an adjacent parking lot. Ehrhardts' Macon, LLC, has completed construction of the project. The city approved issuing its taxable industrial revenue bonds in the amount of $5,835,000 for the purpose of acquiring the project and leasing the project to Ehrhardts' Macon, LLC. The company will deed the project to the city, subject to the existing deed of trust between the company and BTC Bank, and the city will enter into a lease agreement to which the city will lease the project to the company and the company will agree to pay lease payments sufficient to pay the principal of and premium on the bonds. Cowherd stated that the bonds are conduit bonds and that the city serves as a conduit. The Ehrhardts' Macon, LLC, will make payments to BTC Bank, which is financing the hotel. The attorney explained that if cities own properties, they are not subject to real estate taxes. Chapter 100 bonds provide the mechanism to give the city legal title to the property. The city will issue the bonds; however, the bonds can only be paid by Ehrhardts' Macon, LLC. Mark Sprecker, an attorney with the law firm of Polsinelli, who is representing Ehrhardts, stated that the BTC Bank is the buyer of the bonds and that the city holds the title to the property. "Ehrhardts' Macon will give you the deed, and the city will lease it back to Ehrhardts' Macon to manage and operate the property," Sprecker told the council. "When the 20-year term is up, then Ehrhardts' Macon will take it back from the city. They will be making all the payments on the lease. There is no risk to the city in making the payments."

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Chillicothe City Council members will continue budget work during their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday night, March 13. The city leaders will hear an annual service report and budget request from a representative of the University of Missouri Extension Center. The extension center is one of several entities with which the city contracts to provide services to residents of Chillicothe. City Administrator Ike Holland will discuss the city budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year which begins April 1. Tonight's meeting also includes a public hearing at 7 p.m. to consider the distribution of capital improvement sales tax funds for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The distribution includes funding for City Hall improvements. The agenda also includes an appearance by Kimberly Kimbrough, a Chillicothe resident, who will discuss a funding request for handicap playground equipment. Mayor Chuck Haney will discuss a recommendation of a city administrator search committee. The committee will assist in the selection process to fill the vacancy being created by Holland, who resigned to take a city administrator position in Minnesota next month. City Attorney Robert Cowherd will discuss and present an ordinance regarding a golf cart lease agreement. The attorney will also present an ordinance authorizing the issuance of its taxable industrial revenue bonds in a principal amount of $5,835,000 to provide funds to acquire a hotel and related parking and infrastructure for Ehrhardts Macon, LLC, and authorizing and approving certain documents and actions in connection with the issuance of the bonds. The council tonight also will consider bids for mowing services, sidewalk concrete, gasoline and industrial park farm ground operations. The farm ground operation involves approximately 137 acres. Administrator Holland will discuss and present a resolution in support of Livingston County's half-cent sales tax ballot issue. Jim Gillilan, general manager of Chillicothe Municipal Utilities, will present an ordinance for council consideration that would authorize a contract intergovernmental agreement between the city, acting through its board of public works, and the Chillicothe R-2 School District, all acts necessary to carry out the terms of the contract.

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