ASK ANN

"Our city has several locations where basketball goals have been erected along city right-of-way, using the street surface as the court. Aside from the obvious liability issue, we have had complaints from the neighbors about the noise generated, especially late at night. How have others handled this issue?"

Depending upon the region of the country where you live, basketball is one step removed from heaven, so dealing with this issue can be a touchy one. Telling a resident to remove the goal is definitely in the best interest of the city. Agencies often rely on right-of-way ordinances that prohibit unsafe activities, although basketball is usually not specifically mentioned. Others may have ordinances that prohibit attachments of any kind to utility poles or rely on the utility that owns the poles to have the goal removed. Existing right-of-way restrictions should already prohibit the erection of poles, specifically for basketball goals. Otherwise you may need to follow a similar course as Ft. Wayne, Indiana and enact an ordinance that makes it "unlawful to engage in any sports or other games upon the streets or sidewalks, to the annoyance of travelers or residents thereon." If readers have handled this situation with success, please share your ideas with me and I'll pass them along.

"I think I remember reading about a new certification program for Biosolid Management but I haven't heard anything else lately. Did the program take off?"

As with any new program the startup is slow, but the Orange County Sanitation District just recently became the nation's first wastewater utility to complete the rigorous certification process instituted by the Association for Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA). The EMS program allows Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) to achieve higher standards that go beyond the already stringent federal criteria for biosolids; improve communications with the general public; ensure protection of public health; tailor biosolids management practices to community needs and environmental performance concerns; and gain public acceptance. APWA congratulates OCSD on becoming EMS certified. For more information about the program, contact AMSA at www.amsa.org or contact the Orange County Sanitation District at (714) 962-2411.

"Does anyone out there charge for miscellaneous parts such as nuts and bolts, shop towels, brake cleaner, etc? If so, how do you charge it out? How do you figure your formula? Is there any other way to recoup lost expenses for these items?" Bob Peck, Fleet Superintendent, City of Salina, KS

Billing other departments for work performed by the City garage is often a bone of contention within agencies. However, the cost of doing business includes those necessary expenses. You wouldn't get a bill from a commercial dealer excluding necessary expenses for doing business. The City garage should be no different. How you go about calculating it can range from the simple to the complicated. For instance, some agencies include uniforms, tool allowances, electricity, and all other shop operational expenses when calculating their hourly rate, thereby making it a fully-burdened labor rate. The rate is reviewed and set annually. Some use an annual "markup" for all repair expenses by totaling all applicable expenses, dividing the discretionary total by the repair parts total to get a percentage and then marking up all repair parts by that percentage for the coming year. Yet others utilize a percentage of the total of expendable items and assess each work order with an "environmental" fee which is often a percentage between 6-8 percent. There are many options and one should be chosen. City garages are not "free" to city departments. As we all know, there's no such thing as a free lunch so someone has to pay.

The City of Ballwin, MO (suburb of St. Louis) is preparing its GASB-34 report. We have very little historical construction costs of each street. We have computed today's value. Does anyone have a historical cost index that will relate today's cost to original cost back as far as 20 years?" G. Kramer

This is a question we are asked frequently in the national office. I am familiar with a couple of good sources. One comes from the Engineering News Record at http://www.enr.com/features/conEco/costIndexes/default.asp. Another source is provided by the Federal Highway Administration at http://www.dot.gov/DOTagencies.htm. Both sources provide some historical data and are open for further questions to assist you in finding the information you need.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 472-0405
E-mail: adaniels@apwa.net