Published: 4/17/2012 9:53 PM | Last update: 4/17/2012 9:53 PM
Council gets petitions on anti-bias matter
By The News staff
The Hutchinson City Council heard several other matters Tuesday.
* Robert Noland of the Kansas Family Policy Council presented petitions signed by 665 Hutchinson residents and 217 others who are opposed to making sexual orientation or gender identity protected classes under the city's anti-discrimination law. The Hutchinson Human Relations Commission conducted three public forums on the issue and voted 9-0 last week to recommend to the council that the law be changed.
City Manager John Deardoff said the issue would be brought before the city council on May 15.
Noland said his organization wanted to convey to the council that there are a large number of people in the city opposed to the change. He said the number of Hutchinson signatures is significant because if the ordinance is amended, opponents could force a public referendum on the change by gathering signatures of at least 25 percent of the number of people who voted in the last Hutchinson municipal election. In the spring 2011 city council election, only 1,308 people voted. That means a protest petition would need only 327 valid signatures of Hutchinson residents.
"We hope it doesn't come to that," Noland said. "But there was been interest in it, and we will have to evaluate it at that time."
* The city council conducted its annual leadership rotation, choosing Council Member Dave Razo to serve as mayor for the next year, replacing Ron Sellers, who reverts to a council seat. And Council Member Bob Bush was selected to serve as vice mayor for a year, replacing Razo.
* The council also awarded a contract to Dondlinger and Sons Construction of Wichita for extending city streets, water and sewer service and a rail line into the 60-acre expansion of the Salt City Business Park.
Six contractors bid on the project, and Dondlinger had the low bid of $1,934,724 for the base project plus two additions. The engineer's estimate of the base project and two alternates was $2,273,644.
Including land acquisition and design and engineering services, the total cost of the expansion will come to about $3.3 million, city Director of Engineering Brian Clennan told the council.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration will pay for 50 percent of costs up to $2.72 million, or about $1.36 million. Reno County has agreed to pay $500,000 and the city will pay the remainder. However, Clennan's memo says the city's share could be reduced by a $650,000 contribution from the Kansas Department of Transportation if a new company locates in the business park "soon." An agreement defining "soon" will be presented to the council sometime before July, Clennan said.