Playgrounds in Pratt parks still closed

Fran Brownell
Playground equipment at Sixth Street Park remains closed for the time being as the city continues to follow guidelines Gov. Laura Kelly laid out as the state takes the first step to opening up from the COVID-19 crisis.

Pratt City offices will remain closed through the week ending Friday May 15 on recommendation of Pratt City Manager Bruce Pinkall who said that Gov. Laura Kelly left that decision open to local elected officials.

The unanimous decision was announced at the regular May 4 City Commission meeting for which all commissioners were in attendance at City Hall, even though the meeting was aired as a Zoom session.

Mayor Gary Schmidt presided with Commissioners Doug Meyer, Don Peters, Zach Deeds and Jason Leslie following social distancing protocol by each commissioner leaving an empty seat on either side, which bumped Leslie to the staff seating section.

Pinkall said a weekend confrontation between police and a park visitor who was in the process of removing the tape around the playground equipment at Sixth Street Park took place and had been posted on social media. Officers intervened but there were no injuries or arrests made in connection with the incident.

Police Chief Nate Humble, attending remotely, reported a spike in thefts, including an armed robbery May1 at Kwik Shop on West Highway 54, which did not result in injuries.

Search for the Kwik Shop suspect is continuing, Chief Humble said, and officers are also continuing investigations into reports of thefts from parked vehicles, with Humble issuing a reminder to city residents to lock vehicles and not leave valuable items in parked cars.

Commenting on his observations from earlier in the day as downtown businesses began to reopen, Pinkall said he was encouraged.

Commissioners took action on the single agenda item to unanimously approved amendments to five city ordinances in preparation for the Global Fee Ordinance that the city has adopted to remove the specified dollar amounts in city ordinances in favor of the wording “prescribed fee.” These approved amendments are published in The Pratt Tribune newspaper.

On motion of Commissioner Meyer, ordinances approved May 4 were Ordinance 2045-Appeal of Revocation of CMB License, Ordinance 2046-Change of Location of CMB Licensee, Ordinance 2047-Occupational Tax for Retail Sales of Alcoholic Liquors, Ordinance 2048-Occupational Tax for Class A & B Private Clubs and Ordinance 2049-Penalty for Violation of Section 8.04.080.

City Attorney Regina Probst, attending remotely, said the full slate of ordinance updates should be completed in the next three to four commission sessions.

Pinkall and City Finance Director Diana Garten advised that preliminary work is underway for the 2021 budget, with Garten reporting that COVID 19 is having a negative impact on the current city budget.

“There’s so many unknowns and things change daily,” Garten said.

Pratt has applied to the National League of Cities for assistance for lost revenues, Garten said.

“Time will tell if we get that,” Garten said. “That would have an impact on both the 20 and 21 budgets.”

Public Works Director Russ Rambat – one of two city employees in attendance – said that he is moving ahead with minor repairs to the Elias McKinney Municipal Swimming Pool so that it can open this season, if COVID-19 regulations allow, at the appropriate time.

Meyer said he recently noticed a biker riding on the sidewalk in the 200 block of South Main and questioned if that was legal. Chief Humble replied that it is unlawful to ride a bike on downtown sidewalks, though bikes may be pushed on the sidewalks.

Kramer told commissioners that city utility bill payments have been coming in through the drop box at the entrance.

“It’s been full three times today,” Kramer said, but added that she had sent out Cycle 2 delinquency notices earlier in the day.

“I normally send out about 70,” Kramer said. “Today, I sent out 111.”

Commissioners recessed to hold a 15-minute executive session related to non-elected personnel in a separate area of City Hall and reconvened in commission chambers at 6 p.m. to adjourn the meeting.

The next regular Pratt City Commission meeting is Monday, May 18 at 5 p.m. and circumstances will dictate whether or not it will be a Zoom session, Pinkall said.