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City 'leads by example' on water usage


In an effort to "lead by example" in smart water use, the city of Hays is considering remodeling its public restrooms and replacing electrical and water fixtures.

Commissioners will vote on whether to accept the low bid of $34,000 from Karst Construction for remodeling city hall's two public restrooms when they meet for regular session Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

Fire Chief Gary Brown outlined renovation plans for commissioners at last week's work session. The restrooms, last renovated in 1973, are equipped with 3.5 gallon per flush toilets.

"The public restrooms are dated," Brown said. "What we're looking to do is make sure we are water smart, we are energy efficient, and we have a much more pleasing appearance to the public restrooms and update them as necessary."

The project includes gutting both restrooms, expanding the men's restroom to add a second urinal, which would have automatic flush valves and use 1 pint of water per flush, installing new walls, ceiling and flooring, energy efficient LED lighting and adding exhaust ductwork and fans. High efficiency electric hand dryers are planned to replace the paper towel dispensers.

The toilets would be replaced with units designed to use only 1.25 gallons per flush with automatic flush valves. Sinks would incorporate automatic water and soap dispensers.

At last week's work session, Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV said he would not vote in favor of the project.

"That is an outrageous amount of money," he said of the $34,000 bid. "It is a public restroom, and it's too much."

City Manager Toby Dougherty said a recent residential bathroom renovation he had undertaken at his own home was estimated at $15,000, therefore he didn't think Karst's bid was out of line. Schwaller remained unconvinced.

"As a homeowner, the value of your home will go up," Schwaller said. "Where here we might save a little water, but we don't pay for water."

"We might save a little energy, particularly with LED lights, and that's nice. But other than the paper towels, we're really not going to save anything."

Other agenda items include:

* Consideration of joining the League of Kansas Municipalities for $9,351 and accepting a proposal from Kansas Municipal Insurance Trust for $123,626 for worker's compensation coverage from April through December.

* Consider approving the purchase of a Lastec 3300 mower for Fort Hays Municipal Golf Course for $34,689.

* An update from Director of Utilities Bernie Kitten regarding the Cedar Bluff water release.

* Consideration of approving the sixth addendum to Dougherty's employment agreement, which would provide for an increase of 3 percent of his base salary as a cost of living adjustment.

* City commission policy for funding recognition.