By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer
Even with one commissioner asking to investigate economic development alternatives, the Concordia City Commission approved its 2013 funding agreement with CloudCorp.
CloudCorp President Ben Retter presented the funding agreement in the amount of $55,000 for 2013. He also introduced Ashley McMillan as the interim executive director for CloudCorp. McMillan has stepped in to fill the position vacated by Kirk Lowell, who resigned last week after 19 years with the organization.
"We're quite pleased with the process and the trajectory of the organization as she (Ashley) works closely with Kirk, our former director, to make sure we cover all bases associated with economic development," Retter said. "We're strongly considering Ashley for the position, but we will be conducting a regional and nationwide search."
Commissioner Charles Johnson asked if anyone had looked into whether there were other economic development organizations in the area who could provide services cheaper. He suggested looking into the rates of JenRus Freelance in Courtland, an internet marketing firm.
City Manager Larry Uri said a similar suggestion had been presented four or five years ago, and nothing had come of it.
"From my view, I get a lot of value out of our association with CloudCorp," Uri said. "They're there when we need them."
Johnson made a motion to table approving the CloudCorp agreement.
"I'd really like to table this until we cover that – find out what alternatives there are for our investment of $55,000. That's two-plus mills in our budget," he said.
Johnson's motion died for lack of a second. On a vote to approve it, it passed 4-1, with Johnson casting the opposing vote.
The Commission also approved extending the professional services agreement for 2013 with Campbell and Johnson, the city's engineers. Ken Johnson said the agreement will keep the firm's monthly fee at $1,200 per month, the same as in 2012.
Uri told Commissioners that the assistance provided by Campbell and Johnson is invaluable to the city.
"I would severely miss their presence," Uri said. "My experience has been that we're more than getting our money worth."
In other business, the Commission also approved low bids for housing rehabilitation projects as part of the Concordia Housing Rehabilitation grant.
Bids accepted were: 433 East 6th, $26,770, Snell Contracting; 803 East 5th, $24,550, Snell Contracting; 409 East 6th, $20,685, Cote Construction, Miltonvale; 703 East 6th, $16,260, Cote Construction; and 310 East 6th, $19,850, Kansas Sand & Construction, Salina.
Housing Inspector Bruno Rehbein said two of the houses exceeded the $20,000 maximum. The Housing Rehabilitation Board recommended making up the difference by using funds from the Housing Preservation Grant the city received from USDA and Rural Development.
The Commission also approved a bid from Hall Brothers, Marysville, for a Kansas Department of Transportation KLINK project. For $194,562, the company will resurface Highway 9 from Cloud Street east to the city limits. The city will pay 25-percent of the project, or $52,390, and KDOT will pick up the rest of the cost.
A resolution was also approved to allow the installation of railroad crossing guards on Industrial Road near East Seventh Street. Public Works Director Ron Copple said the resolution was an agreement between the BNSF Railroad, the state and the city. The railroad will install the crossing guards and maintain them at no cost to the city.
During his manager's report, Uri said the city had received a number of donations in memory of Darlene Rasure. With the funds, as well as some other donations, he said they have been able to purchase a backstop for Rasure Field. It will be installed and ready for use in the spring.