The Pratt City Commission heard good news about the economy and praise for a park and staff at the Municipal Building.
Sales tax revenue for the City of Pratt during the first quarter of 2013 exceeded the same period a year ago — and that was a record year — by $56,454, Finance Director Diana Garten reported at Monday's meeting of the Pratt City Commission.
The cost of new buildings approved for construction has also increased, according to Brad Blankenship, city building inspector. In 2011, his office approved plans for $1.6 million; in 2013, the value was $2.6 million. Already in 2013, buildings costing more than $9 million have been approved.
That includes a new hotel, an Arrowhead West building in Prairie Park Business Park, the Filley Art Museum to be built on the corner of Fifth and Jackson streets and a carwash on East First Street that should open later in the spring. The figure does not include hospital renovations, he said.
"As a country, we've had some difficult economic times, but in Pratt we've been able to maintain growth," Commissioner Jeff Taylor said.
Commissioners gave approval to a disc golf tournament at May Dennis Park on May 11 as a fund-raiser for Sacred Heart Youth. Tournaments held in the past bring in 30 to 60 players, according to Michael Nall, who made the request.
"May Dennis is one of the finest disc golf courses I've played on," Nall said, and in a written letter, noted that many out-of-towners also love the course.
After discussing other options, commissioners agreed that Police Chief Gary Myers could proceed with the sale of an airplane without going through a sealed bid or auction process.
The Police Department seized a 1966 Cessna airplane that was involved in trafficking cocaine in December 2010, and has stored it at the airport since then. A judgement of forfeiture was obtained, declaring Pratt Police Department to be the owner, and canceling any previous title.
Attempts have been made to sell the plane, with little interest. It was in flying condition when seized, but has not been started since, paperwork certifying that it meets safety requirements is missing, and Myers has been told it would take many thousands of dollars to make it flight-worthy.
Assistant Chief Jeff Ward has met with a prospective buyer, who has suggested he would pay $15,000, as-is and without warranty, provided a mechanic the buyer supplies at his expense determines that the motor is repairable.
Storage charges at the airport stand now at $5,500, and the city attorney's office would claim 15 percent of the cost of final sale for handling the legal aspects of the forfeiture proceeding.
Commissioners questioned the plane's value as salvage, and what it might bring if advertised.
"It's already in debt to us for five grand," Mayor Bill Hlavachick said. "I say take the money and run."
A motion by Taylor to waive bids or auction in favor of an outright sale passed unanimously.
Keith Sexson and Bob Blasi were reappointed to three-year terms on the Pratt Airport Authority Board, and Gary Schmidt, Brian Gordon and Dan Shumway were reappointed to the Building Board.
Kelly Hemphill, director of electric utilities, answered commissioners' questions about a gas leak last week at Stanion Electric. The leak on a high pressure line in the alley was directly below city electric transformers, and it was not possible to shut off power only to the Stanion building, he said. The eastern half of the city was without power for a time.
Commissioner Gary Skaggs again questioned Blankenship about the condition of a building just north of Woody's on South Main that he said is not only unsightly but unsafe. City Attorney Ken Van Blaricum is to determine ownership of the building.
Skaggs commented that assistance from janitors at the Pratt Municipal Building at the Rotary Club chili feed and Pilot Club's chicken and noodle dinner was outstanding.
Eric Welch and Bill Cain, who are also first in line as fire truck drivers, received a letter of appreciation from Ninnescah Rural Electric, which served a dinner to 350 people the night after the Pilot Club meal, Recreation Director Bruce Pinkall said.