By Paul Rhodes
CONWAY SPRINGS – Members of the Conway Springs City Council voted last week to give local townships that receive fire protection from the city a break on the cost of that protection.
Last month, representatives from three local townships – Creek, Sumner and Springdale – asked members of the Conway Springs City Council for a break on their fire protection bills.
All three townships came before the council with their proposed bills for the coming year, and noted that they have been facing price increases every year. The new bills have scheduled increases of 5 to 7 percent, as well.
Township representatives made it clear that they appreciate the fire coverage provided by the Conway Springs Fire Department, but questioned the need for regular increases in those costs every year. The township officials said they would like to see the City of Conway Springs freeze the rates for some period of time, or come to some kind of other agreement to help the townships with their fire protection costs.
Council members agreed to look into the township bills for fire protection costs, and set a workshop on the issue for 5:30 p.m. May 10 at City Hall. The workshop was held right before the regular city council meeting last Tuesday night, and Mayor Daryle Smith came into the workshop with a proposal to reduce the current cost of fire protection for the townships, and hold that price steady until 2024.
“I don’t think there’s any argument that this needs to be changed,” Smith said as he opened the workshop discussion. He noted some of the history of the fire protection contracts with the townships, and the fact that there had been annual cost increases to help offset increasing costs for the Conway Springs Fire Department.
Current fire chief Aubrey Hill noted that a large percentage of the fires responded to by the Conway Springs firefighters are in the townships. Hill said the budget “always goes up,” and that the local governing body will have to figure out how to make up the difference.
Hill said the department currently has 25 volunteers, and that it’s a younger, dedicated group.
Smith noted that the city will redo this year’s bills, and will provide reimbursements for any township that had already paid the 2022 bill.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the council:
• Heard an update from the Conway Springs Recreation Commission on improvements at the local ballfields, and plans to put up another storage building. The council and the rec commission agreed they should have a meeting with the school district, now that the district is using the fields for its baseball and softball programs.
• Heard an update on code violation notices that have been sent out to 11 properties in the city. They all involve property and yard issues.
• Noted that the Police Department is now fully staffed, with the addition of part-time officers.
• Heard a report from the Police Department on security equipment needed at the police station, and how Sumner County is likely to cover the $11,000 cost from federal funds.
• Discussed drafting an ordinance dealing with returned check fees.
• Approved an ordinance dealing with utility payment plans.
• Approved the 2019 audit, and a contract to complete the 2020 audit.
• Noted that the opening day for the swimming pool will be Memorial Day.
• Discussed and approved the increased fee for lighting improvements in Central Park. The agreement is for three years.
• Noted that there was a huge turnout for the citywide cleanup day, and that the next cleanup day will likely require more dumpsters.
• Discussed how employees are compensated for times they are called out while on call. The council agreed to discuss options at their next meeting.
• Noted that the city’s website needs to be updated.