City to request grant extension

By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer

 A light Concordia city commission meeting Wednesday featured one item of business and updates from department heads.
 The commission approved applying for a six-month extension for the Community Development Block Grant housing rehabilitation program. Building Inspector Bruno Rehbein said the grant money the city received is to be spent by Feb. 28.
Currently, he said, there are three homes that have been rehabilitated, and two under contract. Bids have been awarded on four other homes, but none is under contract, and six applications have yet to be inspected.
 "There is approximately $117,690 left for rehabilitation," Rehbein said. "This should cover four or five more rehabs, depending on final contract costs."
All of the work cannot be completed by the end of February, he said, which is why the city needed to apply for a six-month extension. The commission approved authorizing the mayor to sign the extension request.
 During the city manager report, Larry Uri updated the commission on the Tax Increment Financing fund.
 After completing the 21st Street dam project and the restoration work at the Brown Grand Theatre, Uri said the TIF fund's balance will be $386,507. The money on hand will be available for any projects in 2014.
 By the time the life of the TIF district ends in 2020, if the increment does not increase, he said there will be a balance of $1.5 million. Uri said he is working with Cloud County Travel and Tourism and CloudCorp on a plan to use TIF dollars to make improvements to the downtown area.
 One of Uri's 2014 goals is to finish construction on the 21st Street and Plum Road dams. He told the commission that the city's engineers have all the permit documents ready to submit to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Division of Water Resources this month. Once the permits are approved, Uri said the bid letting process can begin.
"We still think we're going to build the dam this year," he said.
 During staff comments, Police Chief Bruce Johnson said his number one goal is to bring the police department back up to full force. Fire Chief Eric Johnson said the department will be host to both an EMT and Firefighter 1 class this year, and he will begin researching to purchase a new ambulance in 2015.
 Rehbein told the commission his number one goal is to get the Cloud County Law Enforcement Center a certificate of occupancy. He said he will also continue to work on removing dangerous and unsafe structures in 2014.
 Public Works Director Ron Copple said he will be working to finish the bathrooms at Rasure Field and help with the construction of the new playground in April. Once the playground is built, he said he will move the park equipment at City Park to Hood Park. Another project Copple said he has is improving drainage and parking on Fifth Street from Broadway to State.
 Chad Buckley, utilities director, said he had received word from the Division of Water Resources that well 22 is not subject to the rules of minimum desirable streamflow. Because the well is more than a mile and a half from the Republican River, Buckley said, the DWR cannot regulate its usage in the event of a drought. Not having to cut that well's usage will provide the city with an additional 34 million gallons of water a year, he said.
 On tap for 2014, Buckley said, is starting to replace the water line along 18th Street from Broadway to State, and installing a water fountain near the new playground.
No action was taken after a 10-minute executive session with Uri and CloudCorp Executive Director Ashley McMillan to discuss confidential business matters. The commission adjourned to a study session to discuss gas billing and the demolition program.

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