July 17th, 2019

southern pioneer presentation city commissionRepresentatives from Southern Pioneer electric present a donation to the Liberal City Commission during the commission's most recent meeting Tuesday afternoon. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The forthcoming wastewater treatment plant was the dominant topic for the Liberal City Commission during its most recent meeting Tuesday afternoon. 

“First thing, commissioners, you have before you the first amendment to the loan agreement for Project C20 1391 01, which is for the engineering and administrative costs dealing with our wastewater treatment improvement project,” Finance Director Chris Ford said. “The original loan amount was $2,985,000 and this amendment would increase that amount to $4,274,042. Part of the requirement with the projects is for the engineering and admin stuff to be separated out into its own loan, and we’ll adjust the remainder later. So for this part of this discussion, we would need to approve entering into the amended loan agreement and then should the commission approve this first ordinance, Ordinance No. 4522, then the other part will be asking for approval of the loan amendment itself. It’s the same interest rate, the same loan term applies, the only difference is the payments will be slightly higher.”

The commission ultimately approved Ordinance No. 4522 by a margin of 4-0, with Commissioner Jack Carlile absent from the meeting. Discussion continue on the wastewater treatment plant project with the agenda’s next item. 

“This actually deals with the construction portion of the wastewater treatment plant project,” Ford continued. “With the changes from going to a standalone plant plus the passage of time, that’s caused some of those costs to increase, so we’ve requested from KDHE, who has approved, to increase our loan amount for the construction. The original amount was $6,642,080, and with this loan amendment, we’d be seeking commission approval to increase the loan by $12,888,800, making the overall total loan $39,531,880. Similar to the last item, the interest rate and payment terms will remain the same, the only difference is the payments will be slightly higher. This part of this item would be the commission approving the ordinance authorizing the city to enter into the first amendment to the loan agreement and the other part would be the approval of the loan amendment.”

“Since the term of the loan isn’t changing and the interest rates aren’t changing, will it be that much of a negative impact as far as how the payments themselves are changing?” Liberal Vice Mayor Taylor Harden asked. “Will this put us in a crunch between those two loans?”

“With the implementation of the rate schedules we’ve done and that forecasting, we’ll still be able to carry these payments,” Ford said. 

This item was also approved by the commission by a margin of 4-0, with Carlile absent. City Engineer Pete Earles then came before the commission regarding the wastewater treatment plant facility bid. 

“On March 22, we took bids for this,” Earles began. “We received four bids and the engineer’s estimate was $30.2 million and the low bid was $30.8 million from Walters-Morgan Construction out of Manhattan,” Earles said. “We’ve worked with them before and they’re good to work with, so we’d recommend taking their bid for this project.”

The commission ultimately approved the bid by a margin of 4-0, with Carlile absent. 

The commission also received a generous donation from Southern Pioneer Electric earlier in the meeting. 

“We have a very exciting announcement for you regarding helping the ball fields and the drainage issues,” Southern Pioneer Electric CEO Steve Epperson said. “We wanted to make a gesture that says we appreciate the partnership we have with the City of Liberal. We really appreciate everything Cal [Burke] has done for us and we appreciate, we truly see ourselves as partners. We’re a not-for-profit electric utility and we exist solely to provide opportunities in rural America that exist in urban America to make it more viable and to be the lowest rate we can provide and the best service we can provide. As such, Pioneer and Southern Pioneer have been able to come together to share expenses to reduce costs. And both entities have been able to come together for the same mission. In doing so, one of the big pillars of what our mandate of our board of directors is to be conscientious of the community and the people we serve, and we truly see it as a service. We’re really a service company that happens to provide electricity, that’s how we see ourselves. Then Cal let us know there was a need with what was going on at the ball fields and in the spirit of that, Southern Pioneer Electric would like to award the city a $25,000 check to help offset the expenses associated with that needed upgrade to the ball fields. We look forward to continuing to work with you all in the future.”

“We truly wish to say thank you for this, and we would encourage other businesses to make donations like this” Burke said. “This isn’t something for the city, this is something for the youth of our city so they can have a nice sports complex that’s not underwater. We really want to thank you guys.”

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