Council gives Chisholm Trail Motel more time to get in compliance with city code

first_imgby James Jordan, Sumner Newscow — Wellington City Council members had a good discussion of how heavy handed the city should be in code enforcement at its Tuesday meeting. The city gave Frank Johnson more time to get the Chisholm Trail Motel into compliance, and they set a hearing to decide the fate of a house at 611 West 13th Street. The city had threatened to shut down the motel over structural issues centered around the walkway around the second floor of rooms. Johnson has told the city he wants to get it fixed up, and those rooms in the area are blocked off and not used. He has 23 of his 39 rooms available to rent. He was scheduled to give an update Tuesday, which he did. He told city officials it was going to cost $87,000 to fix the problems. He said he is still working on getting financing. Johnson added that with the new wind farm going in near Geuda Springs, he is getting a lot more customers. He expects to be at capacity in a week or so, and this could help him get the financing he needs. Johnson has a good reputation as far as customer service and with the work he has already done at the hotel. City Council members don’t want to see the hotel close because it would hurt the local economy, and the city does not want a building on its hands. City Manager Roy Eckert and Code enforcement officer Aaron Norton said Johnson had not been in contact with them, so they were uncertain as to what progress had been made. He had been in touch with council members and Mayor Shelley Hansel though. “You have some great advocates in this town fighting for you,” Hansel told Johnson. He said he would do whatever is necessary to get the building up to code. Council members told him to give another report at the first meeting of October, and they told him to communicate more with city staff to keep them updated on progress. Kip Etter has advocated giving businesses and people the time they need to get into compliance as long as they are making a good faith effort. He said, however, he would like to see more updates from Johnson toward city staff. Council member Bill Butts said he had a contractor friend take a look at the building and backed up things Johnson has said. He said it is not likely the walkway will ever fall because the building is built well, but it probably can’t be repaired either, so eventually it will have to be taken down.House at 611 W. 13th The other code issue involved a house that is in bad shape at 611 W. 13th St. The building has not had utilities since October, 2010 and has a lot of damage, including a hole in the roof. Code officer Aaron Norton has been bringing houses to the city recently, and this is one of those that has gone through the system. There was a hearing back in 2014, and at the time the owner said he wanted to fix it up. After meeting with Norton and learning what all was involved, the owner said he changed his mind and was not going to make repairs. He was told he would have to replace windows, the roof and siding, which would have been costly. The resolution was only to have a hearing where the owner can tell the city what the intentions are. But council members got into a discussion with Norton about how the city handles these cases. Council member Kip Etter said that while this place is an eyesore, there are many other houses in the town that are just as bad or worse. He wondered why this one was being singled out. He also felt the owner was trying to make progress, but was discouraged when the city told him what all he would have to do. “He did clean it up, boarded up the windows. I just have a concern about singling out this house. I want to make sure we are using tax dollars wisely,” Etter said. Etter said the building has a good foundation, and the owner said money is the issue. If the city has to tear it down, the city would have to pay for that even though it would attach the bill to the property taxes. Even so, the owner can walk away and the property would eventually be sold at a tax sale and the city would still lose money. Norton pointed out the building is a safety hazard, and is an nusiance to neighbors. “We do take his desires into account, but we also have to consider the surrounding community,” Norton said. He said it is just a matter of basic safety codes the city has in place. Etter, and other council members, said the city lacks pride in itself and many people are letting their property get in bad shape. Etter said that is part of the reason he wants to give people every opportunity to make improvement. “If an individual is showing interest and trying, we need to not squash that.” he said.Audit report The council also heard a lengthy annual audit report from Wellington City Auditor Lonnie Cooper, CPA. The report is 114 pages of figures concerning the city’s financing. It shows income and expenditures, as well as values of properties, for 2014. (see audit report here: 2014 City audit report The auditor said he gave the city a “clean” report, meaning that the numbers were presented fairly state the facts. The report noted the $800,000 loan the city made to the hospital that year, which was a big drain on resources. It also noted the city is “giving away” $600,000 in utilities annually by not charging people like the hospital and golf course for water, sewer and electricity. The city is billing the hospital, and has forgiven the debt at some points, but is currently asking that utilities be paid. Combining that with the city’s habit of moving money from utilities to the general fund to keep taxes low, led to a $2.7 million decrease. These were numbers the city had already been struggling with. The audit report just shows that those numbers were pretty well right. The auditor told them he believe the city is being run efficiently, but he said keeping the income low while expenses rise, has led them to their current struggles with the budget.In other matters: •It was announced there will be a budget hearing on Aug. 18. The budget is available to see at City Hall, and people may speak about the budget at the Aug. 18 meeting. The council is likely to pass the budget at that same meeting. •Mayor Shelley Hansel also announced another town hall meeting at 7 p.m., Aug. 11 at the Wellington Council Chambers.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (6) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +4 Vote up Vote down WHS.alum · 262 weeks ago Is the budget available on line anywhere, or do you have to go to city hall to get a copy? Report Reply 0 replies · active 262 weeks ago -4 Vote up Vote down craig · 262 weeks ago Golf course seems to keep resurfacing as problematic. Yet, councilman Butts is out there frequently, playing for prize money. Report Reply 1 reply · active 262 weeks ago +10 Vote up Vote down crusader Pride · 262 weeks ago Craig ..the golf course is a problem. Please explain. The golf course brings more out of town people to Wellington annually than anything else we have. Last I checked the golf course is city owned and operated. The pool is city owned much money does that lose a year. Also for your information Mr. Butts is not the only person that plays out there. The mayor and a fee councilman do also and Kudos for them for supporting it. Report Reply +2 Vote up Vote down james jordan · 262 weeks ago The budget is at city hall. previous budgets are on teh site i believe.. and they are planning to put the audit report on the city site.. there is a difference between the two .. Report Reply 0 replies · active 262 weeks ago +15 Vote up Vote down WellMom · 262 weeks ago I had a family recently stay at the Chisholm Trail Inn and they were very happy with their stay. They said the staff was friendly and their room was clean. I hope something can be worked out with the city. Report Reply 0 replies · active 262 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down mom2mykids · 262 weeks ago My question is….why is the codes all the sudden a problem when Mr. Johnson owns it? Why wasn’t it an issue when Korte or the last owners had it???? Report Reply 0 replies · active 260 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. 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