MARCH 2, 2015
The Council of the City of Augusta, Kansas met in regular session on March 2, 2015, with Mayor Matt Childers presiding. Council present were Jason Lowery, Cale Magruder, Paul Belt, Jamie Crum, Mike Rawlings, Sue Jones, Ron Reavis and Matt Malone. Council member Jamie Crum arrived at 7:08 p.m. Also present: City Attorney Austin Parker, City Manager Josh Shaw, Assistant City Manager Cody Sims, Director of Public Safety Tyler Brewer, Street/Sanitation Superintendent Anthony Craft, and City Clerk Erica Jones. Visitors present were: Belinda Larsen, Sarah Hoefgen, Cindy Hicks, Myra Rogers, Gary Rogers, Tom Leffler, John Black, Larry Henry, Eric Birk, Justin Londigan, Mike Huddleston, Karen Huddleston, Traevor McPherson, Ken Bratton, Sue Schamp, Cheryl Taskinen, Malibu Hands, Alisha Warner, Bill Slade, April Harter, Monica Guilliams, Iqbal Jehan, Pat Pilcher, and Lolita Zerbe.
Pledge of Allegiance
Prayer: Pastor Keith Cross, First Christian Church, gave the invocation.
Minutes: Rawlings made a motion to approve the minutes from the February 17, 2015 Council meeting. Lowery seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Ordinance 2A: Reavis made a motion to approve Ordinance 2A in the amount of $764,142.04. Jones seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Sarah Hoefgen, representing the Augusta Chamber of Commerce, presented the annual report for the Chamber.
Cindy Hicks, representing Downtown Augusta, Inc., presented the annual report for DAI.
Sue Schamp, representing Friends of Felines, presented the merits of trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs for feral cats. Jones stated she had a conversation with Mike Cocke at the Augusta Animal Clinic, who currently serves as the City’s animal shelter, and he has agreed to spay/neuter eight cats a month and give them rabies shot under our current contract. She stated they would do this rather than trapping and killing for the same price as they are currently charging us per month. Jones stated he also suggested a three month trial period through the end of May, so her recommendation would be that we target a specific area.
Malone asked if we could do a trial program under our current ordinance or if there would have to be changes. Shaw stated that staff was awaiting direction from the Council on how to proceed with the matter prior to reviewing the ordinances and current contract with the Augusta Animal Clinic. He stated if the Council decides to move forward with a trial program or a full blown program, staff would put all that information together for you to make those decisions. Rawlings inquired about who would be responsible for the cats if they hurt a person. Parker stated it would depend on how the program is structured and what involvement the City has in the operation. Belt asked if we could conduct a trial program without having to change any ordinances. Parker stated there are several provisions related to this subject in the city code and that he would like an opportunity to look at it more in depth and see what other communities are doing.
Jones stated she has a colony of 12-15 cats behind her building that she would like to volunteer for a trial program to trap and sterilize and vaccinate over the next three months. Magruder stated his opinion has been well noted and that there are multiple studies that can be cited on both sides of the issue. He stated that all the comments he has received are to the negative and that all the comments from the citizens of his ward is that they do not want a feral cat colony in their back yards. Magruder stated he is skeptical that we can maintain interest in funding this program long term and he is not willing to accept any risk or liability for the City or citizens. He stated there needs to be a consensus from the Council to drop this issue and move forward.
Jones stated that the feral cats she has experience with downtown do not want to be approached or petted, so the notion that they will bite or scratch someone is not relevant. She stated feral cat colonies do not generally reside in residential areas. Magruder disagreed. Jones asked if the Council would be agreeable to try a trial run downtown before making a decision for the town as a whole. Parker stated there would be some amendments to ordinance, even on a temporary nature, in order to conduct a trial program.
Reavis asked what kind of message we would be sending to responsible cat owners in town, if we require them to license their cats, obtain annual rabies vaccinations, and be responsible for containing their cats. He stated we would be setting ourselves up for a double standard if we allow an organization to come in and not require the same thing. Reavis stated he wasn’t aware there was a feral cat problem downtown until Jones started feeding them. He stated that is key to this issue…she has a colony behind her business because she is feeding them. Reavis asked why we would limit this to cats and not skunks or possums, where would you draw the line. Jones stated we are not asking for a double standard, but to address the overpopulation of the cats we have in Augusta. She stated that trapping and killing has not been successful. Jones stated the point is to try and develop a mechanism to control the cat population in the downtown area where there are restaurants, but no rats or mice as a result of the cats being there. She stated that she is astounded this has become such an emotional issue when it seems so simple to her, if you have a TNR program the population will start to decline over time. Jones responded that Reavis’ comment that there was no feral cat issue until Jones began feeding them is not true. She stated they were there long before she started feeding them. She stated she is a compassionate person and if the worst thing she does is feed hungry kitties downtown without a home, so be it.
Jones stated that she is asking the Council to consider is to develop a very small targeted program to see how it works before we decide as an entire community that this is what we want to do. Jones stated Hays, Abilene, Topeka, and Sedgwick have all been very successful in developing a TNR program and she is having a difficult time understanding why this is so hard for this Council and community at large.
Crum stated there is a lady who has a feral cat colony on Osage and that the area by Garfield Elementary is inundated with cats, so it is moving into the residential areas. She stated that she has worked downtown in the same location for the last 16 years and the feral cat issue has only become a problem in the last three or so years. Crum stated there are three places downtown where we have feral cat colonies – behind Jones’ business, north of Miller’s Five, and by T&J Electric. She stated that at all of those places the cats are being fed. If the business owners or people at those locations quit feeding the cats would they go away? Crum stated they are going through the drainage system of the community and moving throughout the town. She stated there are now feral cats on Angelina near the lake, so we do have a feral cat problem and it is spreading to other parts of the community. Jones stated that is why you want to sterilize them to control the population.
Rawlings made a motion to table this discussion for two weeks allowing staff and legal counsel to gather info on legal issues and cost for a three month trial. Lowery seconded the motion. Jones stated she didn’t believe there would be a cost because the animal clinic has already indicated they would do this under our current contract at no additional cost. Rawlings stated he would like to see that in writing. Reavis asked staff to find out what the current procedure with trapping downtown is and how many cats have been trapped or caught in downtown area recently. Motion carried with Magruder voting in opposition.
Dump Truck Bid: Reavis made a motion to approve the bid from Rusty Eck Ford in the amount of $59,677.00 and the transfer of the current Chevy 3500 to Santa Fe Lake upon delivery of the F-550. Malone seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Engineering Agreement for 2015 Street Sales Tax Projects: Malone made a motion to approve an engineering services agreement with MKEC in the amount of $29,400 for construction engineering services related to the 2015 Street Sales Tax maintenance projects. Lowery seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Councilwoman Crum exited the meeting at 8:08 p.m.
Dike Road Project Engineering Services: Magruder made a motion to approve the supplemental funding request in the amount of $4,250 to MKEC for services completed beyond the scope of work identified in the original agreement for the Dike Road project. Lowery seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Paving of Cemetery Road: Council discussed a proposal to pave the unfinished gravel road located in Elmwood Cemetery to finish the connection to 12th Street and provided direction to staff on how to proceed. Reavis made a motion to include funds in the 2016 Budget to pave and realign the road. Lowery seconded the motion. Council consensus was to delay the project and include in the 2016 Budget. Reavis withdrew his motion.
General Obligation Bonds for Refuse Collection Equipment: Rawlings made a motion to approve Resolution 2015-02 authorizing the issuance of General Obligation Bonds of the City in an amount not to exceed $1,030,000 for the purpose of paying all or a portion of the costs of certain refuse collection equipment. Reavis seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Transfer of Found Property: Jones made a motion to approve the transfer of found property to the Fire Division of the Department of Public Safety pursuant to City Code Section 7-507. Lowery seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Proposal for Community Garden: Lowery made a motion to approve the Park Board recommendation for the location of a proposed community garden at the current Parks Department facility at 1301 North Ohio. Malone seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Proposal for Disc Golf Course in Garvin Park: Lowery made a motion to approve the Park Board recommendation for the location and layout of a proposed nine-hole par-three disc golf course in Garvin Park and authorizing staff to work with volunteers to proceed with construction/installation. Jones seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Comprehensive Plan for 2017-2032: Jones made a motion to approve the Planning Commission recommendation to initiate a new Comprehensive Plan Process for 2017-2032. Rawlings seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Matters From/For Council:
GIS Mapping : Shaw provided an update on GIS Mapping activities and process improvements utilizing Google Earth Pro.
City Council/Mayor Candidate Forum: There is a City Council/Mayor Candidate Forum scheduled for March 24, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.
Informational Memorandum and Final Comments:
Belt: Belt stated he received two complaints about vehicles speeding through park and exiting on the west side of the lake.
Rawlings: Rawlings stated it has come to his attention that some people believe he is a part or full owner of mobile home courts on Money Avenue. He stated that those belong to his cousin and he has no financial interest in them.
Malone: Malone stated there was a lot of damage done to the city lot behind City Hall during the snow removal.
At 9:10 p.m. Lowery made a motion to go into executive session for 20 minutes under the attorney-client privilege exceptions to the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Lowery asked that City Manager Josh Shaw, Assistant City Manager Cody Sims, and City Attorney Austin Parker join the Council in the executive session. The governing body will reconvene in the Council Chambers at 9:30 p.m. Malone seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
At 9:30 p.m. Malone made a motion to exit executive session with no action being taken. Lowery seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Adjourn: At 9:31 p.m. Malone made a motion to adjourn. Lowery seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.