Holcomb: No update to conservation plan yet

1/24/2013

Tax-free municipal bonds resolution receives approval.

Tax-free municipal bonds resolution receives approval.

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

After talking with the Kansas Water Office, the city of Holcomb won't need to update its water conservation plan just yet, though the city does intend to initiate a public education campaign later this year about the merits of not wasting water.

Two weeks ago, the Holcomb City Council talked about updating its plan in response to a letter from Gov. Sam Brownback urging water suppliers in the state to review supplies and conservation plans due to the state's ongoing exceptional drought.

City officials also were concerned about a several year decline in water levels in the city's five wells and talked about the possibility of restricting water use in the summer if the drought continues.

On Wednesday, Mayor Gary Newman said the KWO indicated conservation plans ought to be updated about every 10 years, and that there is no penalty for not following the plan exactly as written.

"Our plan was last updated in 2004, so we're good for another couple of years," Newman said.

Newman said that based on current water levels, the city will continue educating the public and will curtail its own water use. However, he left open the possibility of more restrictions if conditions worsen.

"If the drought continues, and we have a long, hot, dry summer, I'll certainly come back to the council to ask for action on curtailing some water use," he said. "I hope we can take a proactive approach with this vs. a reactive approach."

Newman said the city may put some educational material together in a letter to be mailed to water customers.

Councilman Brian Rupp said he supports educating the public about water use, but added that municipal users are not the ones having the largest impact on the aquifer. Rupp said he was talking to a farmer recently about water, and the farmer told him he probably uses more water for agriculture than the entire city of Holcomb.

"I think we need to take a sensible approach to it, and if maybe we get to an extreme, we don't want to see water running in the streets," Rupp said. "We need to be conservative, but, I hate to say it, it's an issue we don't have a whole lot of control. It's just that we're going to suffer from what happens."

In other business Wednesday, the council:

* Approved a resolution in support of allowing cities to keep using tax-free municipal bonds as one tool used for infrastructure financing, at the request of the city administrator of Hillsboro and the Kansas League of Municipalities. The resolution will be forwarded to the state's Congressional delegation.

* Tabled discussion of a new employee and supervisor evaluation system to allow employees more time to review the system and provide input. The goal of the new system is to give the council a means to better justify future employee raises when the budget allows.

* Decided not to change the amount department heads and the city administrator can spend on individual purchases without getting prior approval. Currently, department heads are limited to $500, and the administrator is limited to $2,500.

* Authorized the city administrator to apply for a corporate credit card with a $5,000 spending limit. Officials said a card is needed primarily for making room reservations and travel expenses when on out-of-town city business.

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