Iolans may see higher water bills

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Utility bills for Iolans will rise in January if Iola commissioners approve a pair of proposals.
City Administrator Judy Brigham proposed a 10-percent rate hike in water bills, to generate revenue to pay for construction of the city’s water plant. This year’s unseasonably cool, wet weather resulted in less demand for water by residents, Brigham said, which adversely affected revenue to pay toward the city’s loan for the new water plant.
Brigham also proposed commissioners institute a storm water drainage fee of $2 for every electric customer to pay for Iola’s decaying storm water system. Many of the storm water facilities are more than a century old, Brigham said, and frequently require repairs.
The fee would generate about $72,000 annually.
Commissioners said they would consider both issues at their Dec. 8 meeting.

ANGIE MURPHY, director of the new Allen County dispatch center, spoke briefly about the transition in January.
Then, dispatch services will be handed over from the city, at Iola Police Department, to the county’s new communications center at 410 N. State St.
All of the dispatchers, currently under city employ, will become county employees with the changeover.
Commissioners have wondered whether the employees will lose any fringe benefits, or accrued vacation and sick pay. Murphy said the county is in agreement that the employees should not lose any benefits.

IOLANS were given their first glimpse at a planned extension of the Prairie Spirit Trail.
Holly Powers of Landworks Studio, Olathe, showed commissioners a sketch of the mile-plus extension, from Cofachique to Riverside parks. The drawing included proposed signage at the trail’s crossing with U.S. 54 and side streets in town.
Landworks is assisting the city in applying for a transportation enhancement grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. If approved, the grant would pay for as much as 80 percent of the trail extension. The city has set aside as much as $100,000 for the project, although the work could be scaled back if budget constraints dictate, Powers and Iola Assistant City Administrator Corey Schinstock said. The grant would pay for an asphalt surface and flashing lights marking the trail’s crossing at U.S. 54 and North State Street.

CONSTRUCTION essentially is complete on the new community building at Riverside Park.
The building, replacing the flood-damaged New Community Building, will serve as offices for the Allen County Fair Board and as a certified storm shelter.
Ryan and Ty Garrett of Below Standard Construction, general contractor in charge of the project, spoke briefly about delays in completing the work. The deadline was Aug. 14.
The Garretts cited rainy weather, delays in receiving equipment and doors and having to wait for the Fair Board to remove its old building before construction could start.
Commissioners asked the Garretts when the remaining punch list items, such as cleanup and landscaping would be in place, and “final” completion achieved.
Ty Garrett said he could not give a firm date because of continued delays in getting equipment for some of the doors.
Commissioners said they would discuss the matter further at their Dec. 8 meeting.