Lawrence city commissioners asked the city manager Tuesday to negotiate a new franchise agreement with the local electricity utility.
The current franchise agreement with KPL Gas Service, which supplies electrical service in the city, will expire June 1, said Mike Wildgen, city manager.
The city is considering changing terms of the 20-year-old agreement, Wildgen said.
Under current franchise agreements, utilities pay the city for use of right of ways, public property set aside for use by the city. "It's basically a use permit," Wildgen said.
FOR USE of the rights of way, the city charges KPL Gas Service a 3 percent tax on gross receipts from its billing. The charge is passed on to residents in the form of franchise fees on their bills.
For example, Wildgen said, for an electricity bill of $100, a resident is charged an extra $3 in franchise fees.
The revenue from the franchise fees goes into the city's general operating fund. Money from the fund is used to supply many city services, such as operation of the police and fire department.
Revenue from franchise agreements also helps keep down the mill levy, Wildgen said. A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
"THE FRANCHISE fees certainly do help stabilize the mill levy," Wildgen said. "We don't want to become too dependent on the property tax."
In 1990, franchise fees generated $1,777,761 for the city's general operating fund, Wildgen said. KPL Gas Service is currently the largest franchise revenue source of all the utilities.
Other utilities that have franchise agreements with the city are Kansas Public Service, Sunflower Cablevision and Southwestern Bell Telephone.
Commissioners agreed that the city staff should review the terms of the current agreement before preparing a new agreement.
"There have been a lot of technology changes in the last 20 years, and I want to make sure that we have a modern, up-to-date franchise agreement," Wildgen said.
He did not specify whether the city would seek a higher rate in the new franchise agreement.
City staff also will look into drafting a franchise agreement for a term shorter than 20 years, Wildgen said.
Once the city forges an agreement with KPL Gas Service, the draft will be discussed by commissioners at a regular Tuesday meeting.
Mayor Bob Walters stressed Tuesday that commissioners were not approving a franchise fee increase at the meeting.
IN OTHER action Tuesday:
Commissioners presented an award from the Lawrence Fire Department to the staff of Kansas University's Hashinger Hall for the staff's efforts in promoting the department's residence hall fire safety program.
Commissioners received an award from the American Concrete Assn. for a paving project at the Masters at Alvamar subdivision in western Lawrence.
In a single motion, commissioners approved the following consent agenda items:
Payment of city expenses.
A bid of $128,659 from W.S. Bunch Co. for improvements to Oread ground storage reservoirs.
A bid date of 2 p.m. Feb. 18 for uniform rental services for the public works department and installation of pumps for the utilities department's West Hills pump project.
A bid date of 2 p.m. Feb. 25 for a front-end mower and tractor for the parks and recreation department.
Authorizing the city manager to request engineering proposals for 1992 neighborhood water line rehabilitation projects.
Authorizing the city manager to request proposals for engineering services for the sewer system improvement plan.
An ordinance on final reading making text amendments to the city code and including provisions for the creation of the RO-1B zoning district.
An ordinance on first reading granting the Garage Door Group a 50 percent tax abatement on equipment, and correcting an earlier ordinance on the abatement adopted by the commission.
An ordinance on first reading granting Oread Laboratories Inc. a 50 percent tax abatement for two new buildings and real estate.
An ordinance on first reading to change the name of 18th Street Court to Carmel Place.
A site plan with conditions for a two-building, 17-unit apartment complex with management office to be built at 1903-05 Mass.
A site plan for Alvamar Place, a 15-unit single-family detached townhouse development southwest of 18th Street and Carmel Drive.
A mortgage subordination agreement for State Radiator Inc., 613 N. Second.
Commissioners pulled these items from the consent agenda for further discussion:
Minutes of previous commission meeting and various city organization meetings. After discussion, commissioners approved changes to the minutes.
Rejecting bids for Kentucky Street lift station expansion. Commissioners set a bid date of 2 p.m. Feb. 18 to receive new bids on the project.
On the regular agenda, the commissioners:
Received a master plan to develop city-owned land south of 19th Street between Haskell Avenue and Moodie Road; authorized city manager to acquire architectural services for planning demolition of a Lawrence Fire Department training tower on the site, the construction of a new tower, and building a storage and maintenance facility for parks and recreation. Commissioners also requested a report on the cost of the projects.
Continued a public hearing on vacating a portion of a utility easement in Pinnacle West No. 2 subdivision until next Tuesday.
Continued a public hearing on vacating a portion of a drainage easement in the Pioneer Ridge subdivision until next Tuesday.
Approved a new employment contract with City Manager Mike Wildgen; amended a section of his contract dealing with raises to read "The city manager's compensation shall be reviewed annually at the time of the city manager's annual review." The commissioners voted to delete the following sentence from the contract: "The employee shall be given the same percentage annual salary adjustment given to department heads unless the governing body shall act to provide a different salary adjustment."
Approved a resolution decreasing the amount of a federal grant for improvements to the Lawrence Municipal Airport so it would cover all phases of the project except the purchase of Instrument Landing System equipment; approved a resolution accepting a new federal grant for the amount needed to pay for the ILS equipment.
Authorized the mayor to sign letters to state legislators: supporting a senate bill that would broaden cities' authority to invest public funds; opposing a senate bill that would repeal the city's option to enter into the state public employer-employee act; opposing a senate bill that would limit the use of transient guest taxes to the promotion of tourism and convention business; and supporting creation of a state Department of Commerce and Housing, with the condition that the reorganization would not affect the current efforts of the Department of Commerce.
Asked that city staff monitor the progress of a senate bill that would repeal the Water Transfer Act and replace it with a new law, and to recommend amendments to protect the city's long-term water interests.
Asked city staff to follow progress of legislation that would prevent local governments from passing legislation regulating the use of pesticides.
Asked city staff to draft language for legislation to clarify the state's notification policy, in terms of who the city needs to notify of construction projects in the environs of historic landmarks.
Commissioners set a study session for April 27 to examine public housing needs in Lawrence. Commissioner Shirley Martin-Smith said the city would sponsor public hearings at 4 p.m. Feb. 19 and 4 p.m. March 18 to gather input on public housing needs and issues.
Commissioners decided to conduct a forum March 17 on a report from the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Development task force. The city will invite the authors of the report to explain their findings and request comments from the public about the task force's recommendations. The commission was scheduled only to receive the report at the March 17 meeting.
Wildgen announced that federal aid has been made available through the state transportation department to construct left turn bays at the intersections of 21st and Iowa streets and University Drive and Iowa Street. The federal funds would pay for 80 percent of the projects' construction and construction enginnering costs. The city would cover the remaining 20 percent.