Council Seeks Solution to Three Mile Agreement

Municipal Offices in Lamar

 

If you live within the boundaries of the City of Lamar, you are subject to property taxes and pay a fee for utilities and trash collection, but if you reside outside those boundaries, you are free from property taxes, but pay twice the city rate if you use those municipal resources.  And somewhere in between, there exists what’s termed the Three Mile Agreement, a condition both the city and Prowers County representatives are trying to resolve.

The Lamar City Council held a work session on Tuesday, February 15th, to discuss their objectives following a January 24th meeting during which residents David and Daniel Rasmussen wanted a clarification on how the Intergovernmental Agreement between the city and county affects them.  The IGA, developed in 1984 as the Commercial Development Plan, states that a resident living within three miles of the city limits is required to obtain building permits for construction on their land, but since the brothers consider themselves as county, not city residents, they should not be subject to building permit fees.  The brothers stated that they have owned their land prior to the development of the IGA and should not be subject to any restrictions as they never signed an extra-territorial water agreement.

The 1984 plan was good for a twenty-year duration and was automatically renewed every five years.  Another study and agreement was done in 2004 for another twenty year duration, but 2024 is not all that far off and the council and the city have meetings planned to determine how they will move forward in light of future economic development needs in the area.  Some residents who live close to the border have criticized the higher service fees they pay without having access to fire or police service.  Mayor Kirk Crespin suggested that if a resident may be that close to the boundaries already, they may as well ask to be incorporated into the city limits and lower their rates, but reminded the property owner, they will then be subject to property taxes.  In effect, those taxes help offset the cost of the utilities.  A resident can also calculate for themself the difference they’d pay in new taxes, versus the difference for their reduced costs for utility service.

Crespin explained one of the goals for the agreement was to ensure that within that three-mile boundary, construction would have to reach city construction codes should the properties be annexed into the city limits.  “If there are no codes, you could have RV parks spring up on the boundaries of a city or houses constructed with only shoddy guidelines and those areas would not be good for annexation in the future,” he explained.

Some council members posed questions regarding who would have jurisdiction over code enforcement, the city or the county, as the county has no building inspector, but has used city officials in the past for building construction conformity.  There was general agreement that the county needed to be informed of issues instead of the city and a property owner, only and the city would not have jurisdiction for enforcement over the county in these types of matters.  By the same token, information should be available to property owners at the outset of construction on what their obligations will be pertaining to construction requirements.

Crespin said he will be discussing these matters with the County Commissioners in the near future in order to get ahead of the 2024 deadline for the current agreement.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCountyEnvironmentFeaturedPublic Safety

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