Sometimes, certainty is hard to find.

Sometimes, certainty is hard to find.

For now, the city of Pittsburg is planning to repave the section of Broadway Street between Madison and Second Street thanks to an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation. But whether that will actually happen is  not set in stone.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Pittsburg City Commission approved a deal as part of KDOT’s KLINK program.

The program, short for city connecting link, offers resurfacing programs as part of a partnership program with cities and counties. In particular, the program offers a grant of 50 percent for cities with more than 10,000 residents, up to a maximum of $200,000.

“We’ve had several water main breaks along that section of road,” Beasley said. “That’s the worst stretch of Broadway. It’s just a bad part of road. We think this is the best way to leverage our funds to make sure it gets done.”

Beasley warned city commissioners that the project may have to be scaled back or reduced in scope in order to make the project reasonable.

That’s because the current estmate is that the project would cost $430,000 in today’s dollars, which would put the city on the tab for more than $230,000. Under terms of the agreement, KDOT can end the deal if the city doesn’t have the ability to fund the project. There seemed to be some question at the meeting as to whether the city would have the available funds for its side of the project.

At this point, Beasley suggested the project be paid through municipal bonds. City Commissioner Marty Beezley warned about potential higher costs in the bond market as cities in other areas are unable to make their obligations.

However, the commission did approve the agreement. The project is set by the state for between July 2011 and June 2012, while Beasley doesn’t expect to start the project before Spring 2012.

“If we can get into the spring of 2012, we can put it off to the fall of 2012 or even extend it into 2013,” he said. “... We have already applied and been awarded the grant. At least this way we can lock it in for now.”

The City Commission also denied a request by Neil Smith, Pittsburg, for a reduction or forgiveness of special assessment fees.

Smith bought four properties, located at 403 E. 22nd St., 304 W. 6th St., and 702 and 704 N. Elm at a tax auction done through the county earlier in the year.

He said he bought the properties, only to discover the special assessments against them were far higher than he had been expecting. He also said he had not been given enough information about any fees that could be assessed against the properties before he purchased them.

All told, he paid fees of $3,200, and then more fees caught up to him later. Smith now owes close to $6,000 in fees, with an additional $2,000 to come next year.

“I bought those so I could build a house,” he said. “Now, I may have to pick one to build on, and let the others go to weeds. If I can afford a way to keep it, I am going to keep them. They look real nice mowed. But if I can’t, I’m going to have to let them go, and they’ll eventually go back into the same process all over again.”

City commissioners sympathized with Smith, but ultimately decided not to forgive the assessments.

Commissioners sought to speak to county officials to see if the fees could be listed on the properties when listed or some other reasonable solution.

Commissioner Marty Beezley even said it would be “reckless” to set a precedent of forgiving the fees.

“This is a lack of communication not from the city, but it’s really from the county,” she said. “That’s where the confusion lies. I don’t see where we have the history to abate these charges.”

Mayor Patrick O’Bryan also took a moment at the meeting to thank city employees for their efforts during 2010.

“Thank you to the city staff, John Van Gorden, the department heads, for all the able and capable work you have given to us and the city,” O’Bryan said. “All our city employees deserve our thanks for their efforts. They try to do their best for the city. I thank you for all you do for us.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.