Northeast Joco

Prairie Village flooding is real, but does it need another study?

Prairie Village council members expressed doubt Monday night about paying for a study looking at flooding between Roe Avenue and Somerset Drive.

The council tabled a decision on funding a $41,287 design services contract with Lamp Rynearson & Associates Inc. The alternatives review study would have looked at the 83rd Street and Delmar Drainage Project, which is meant to alleviate potential flooding issues with the drainage channel between Roe and Somerset.

“There will always be significant water flowing through this area. This is about preventing flooding to residential properties,” said public works project manager Keith Bredehoeft. “Many of the larger projects have been addressed, I don’t know of any place in Prairie Village where we’re getting this kind of flooding in a residential area.”

Bredehoeft explained that low water crossings at Delmar Lane and Fontana Street can become flooded during heavy rains. He noted that the city had looked into improvements in 2007 but higher project costs led to the stormwater work being canceled.

“I think it is putting the cart before the horse. I need to know if the council is willing to fund it,” said Councilwoman Laura Wassmer. “We have to have that conversation before we spend $50,000 on a study.”

Bredehoeft explained that the new study is needed for the city to apply for funding from the Johnson County Stormwater Management Advisory Council. Bredehoeft is hoping to submit an application to the SMAC program in January 2014 for funding in 2015. The city’s portion of the project could be covered by Stormwater Utility Fee funds.

“I’m very uncomfortable doing this,” said Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins. “We have done this so many times. I can’t fathom spending another $50,000 on another project that is going to go on a shelf.”

While the council pledged to revisit the issue after the budget discussions this summer, Councilman Steve Noll wanted to impress upon his fellow council members the importance of finding a solution.

“This needs to be done. Sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt,” said Noll.

In other news:

• Prairie Village won’t need to raise residential property taxes next year, staff members told the City Council on Monday.

“We’re not anticipating a mill levy increase for 2014,” said finance director Lisa Santa Maria during a discussion of the city’s first-quarter revenue and expenses.

A mill levy increase likely won’t be needed because the city began the year with a 2013 fund balance of $7,217,044, more than $1.5 million higher than was budgeted.

Although revenue has declined by 9.1 percent in the first quarter of 2013, the city’s expenditures have also declined slightly. Prairie Village has taken in 24.4 percent of its budgeted revenue in the first quarter and only spent 18.6 percent.

• The council also agreed that the Environment/Recycling Committee should receive an additional $2,000 in funds, raising its budget to $10,000 in 2014, to cover the cost of the city’s community garden program.

Assistant City Administrator Dennis Enslinger expects that $2,000 to be recouped by the city from the revenue generated by renting out the community garden plots.

The Prairie Village Community Gardens are 48 plots located at Harmon Park and Cherokee Christian Church. Each plot is four feet by 20 feet and costs $40 to rent for the season that spans from April to October. The plots have sold out the past two years with a lottery used to select the gardeners this season. In addition to maintaining their own plot, community gardeners are required to volunteer at least three hours during the growing season to help keep the common areas free of trash and weeds.

The community garden program launched in 2012 with 28 plots and a $4,767 grant from the Kansas Community Gardens Project, a program overseen by the Kansas Health Foundation and the K-State Research and Extension. There is a residency requirement for the 38 plots at Harmon Park, while the 10 plots at Cherokee Christian Church are open to non-residents with preference given to residents.