Wamego’s new year begins with sewer issues. At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, City Manager Merl Page introduced Norman Hupe, who told about a sewer backup problem he had on Christmas Eve. Hupe stated he’s lived in the Country Club Addition for more than 30 years and had no problems until the last four years. He said he’s had a backup problem about every year, and the last time the sewer line was cleaned out, it was full of grease.
Page emphasized that besides grease, disposable wipes flushed in the system have been a real problem in the area. He noted there are 24 personal residences, 2 large institutions including the Wamego Health Center and Valley Vista Good Samaritan Center and the Country Club itself, on the same sewer main.
Hupe wanted a solution to the problem, and Page offered a couple. The first option was have the City crews do a monthly cleanout in the affected area, or installing a pump grinder system from the residence to feed into the main sewer. Hupe seemed happy with the first solution.
Page also proposed a public notice in the monthly statements about the problems being caused in the City’s entire sewer system by flushing disposable wipes.
Wamego City Commissioners approved 2014 pay increases. City Manager Merl Page said the City has always used a merit based pay system, but due to cost of living increases and inflation, he recommended a change to the Commission.
He broke down the 2014 pay system for non-salaried employees; a Cost of Living increase of 25 cents per hour beginning January 1st, employees would also be eligible for a 2 percent merit increase, plus increase the longevity bonus from 25 dollars a year to 30 dollars a year, paid annually after 5 years of service. Page said this increase will not exceed the amount budgeted for salaries in 2014.
Commissioner Bill Ditto said annual pay increases are not something the Governing Body has taken lightly. He said they have spent hours in their work sessions studying the issue, and feels like including a cost of living increase is the right thing to do.
Wamego Commissioners also approved the purchase of a new Police vehicle. City Manager Merl Page said the City likes to rotate the Police vehicles every 3 years, but decided on a different approach this year, and will purchase a utility truck.
Police Chief Mike Baker was in attendance, and said the reasons for requesting a truck was two-fold. One, a 4 x 4 will make getting around in the snow easier, and Two, the hauling capability of equipment for event set-up and removal (i.e., barrels and traffic cones). The Commission approved the purchase of a 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4 x 4 with the Police Package from Nemaha Valley Motors of Seneca, Kansas for a total cost of $15,400 after deducting the bid allowance and trade-ins.
In other business, Page recapped the sales tax figures. The City tax is up 4.2 percent, while the County-wide tax is down 2 percent for the year. He added that both exceeded the budget forecast for the year, and that’s a positive.