The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 9, 1985 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

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Tuesday, April 9, 1985
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T1 Salina T 1 1 he Journal Home Edition — 25 Cents Salina, Kansas TUESDAY April 9,1985 114th year — No. 99—56 Pages Wolf Creek should have been stopped, KCC says TOPEKA (AP) - Construction of the $2.9 billion Wolf Creek nuclear power plant should have been "stopped and abandoned" in 1981, the staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission said Monday. The staff also said imprudent management decisions and waste led to cost overruns of about 55 percent that the customers of the utilities building Wolf Creek should never have to pay. The testimony was filed Monday for rate hearings that are to begin in May. Wolf Creek is being built chiefly by Kansas Gas and Electric of Wichita and Kansas City Power and Light. The non-profit Kansas Electric Power Cooperative of Topeka owns a minority Fillmore interest. The rate increases sought, totaling $508.5 million, would take effect when the 1,150 megawatt plant near Burlington begins commercial operation this fall. The KCC staff said the utilities' requests for higher rates should be trimmed to account for the cost overruns. The staff said utilities should be forced to pay for the waste by reducing or eliminating stockholders' dividends. "The commission staff has concluded that management imprudence resulted in substantial costs that could have been, and should have been avoided but were not controlled by utility management," said Robert Fillmore, the KCC attorney who coordinated the Wolf Creek investigation team. "Operation of the Wolf Creek Generating Station will result in substantial economic losses to ratepayers. That loss should be compensated for by the owners of the utilities. "The, staff will recommend minimum cash-flow requirements that would allow the utilities to meet all obligations to stay in business: interest on bonds, operating and maintenance expenses. But stockholders' dividends are not obligations — they are discretionary." The commission staff recommended that Kansas Gas and Electric Co. receive less than 40 percent of its requested $371 million rate increase and that Kansas City Power & Light Co. receive about 25 percent of its $111 million request. Lyle Koerper, KG&E spokesman in Wichita, withheld comment on the specifics of the staff recommendation, saying only that Wolf Creek has been a "quality project" that was completed in less time than comparable plants and at a lower cost. Since fuel loading was completed March 17, low-power testing is on schedule, he said, and the first electricity from Wolf Creek should be generated in about two months. Fillmore said the staff thinks the cost of Wolf Creek will exceed the $2.9 billion now cited by the utilities and reach $3.008 billion. Fillmore said drastic reductions in the rate increases would not jeopardize the utilities' financial health. But he refused to speculate on the possible effect the staff proposal would have on either utility's ability to find new investors. "The commission staff recommendation allows KG&E and KCPL to remain in a financially viable condition," he said. "It's possible the staff may recommend the utilities forego issuing dividends on common stock." The KCC's staff represents the interests of Kansas citizens in utility rate cases and makes recommendations to the three-member commission as to whether the requests are justified. The staff has investigated the rate applications of the three utilities building Wolf Creek, looking for evidence of imprudent management decisions and waste by the owners of the plant that might have led to unnecessary costs. The staff said it thinks: • A total 4.04 million hours of unnecessary labor during consruction added $82.3 million to the plant's cost — none of which should (See Plant, Page 7) Administration says pre-summit work to be done By The New York Times WASHINGTON - The Reagan administration said Monday that it was pleased that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had agreed in principle to meet with President Reagan but that "much serious work" is needed before a meeting is arranged. Seeking to reduce expectations of an early Rea- gan-Gorbachev meeting, the State Department spokesman said the United States thought that "a Reagan carefully prepared" summit meeting should be the goal of the two sides. But the spokesman said much remained to be done in working out an agenda. The stress on the need for the meeting to be well-prepared was in contrast to the seeming readiness of Reagan to meet Gorbachev as soon as possible when he initiated talk of a summit last month. The call for careful preparations was said to reflect the view of Secretary of State George Shultz, who has opposed a get-acquainted session. The White House, clearly irritated with what it regarded as Gorba- chev's attempt to gain influence in Western Europe and cause problems for the United States with his latest arms proposal, also was more reluctant now to have a meeting without a guarantee that it would produce positive results. "We don't need another Kennedy- Khrushchev summit," an aide said. He was referring to the meeting held in Vienna in 1961 by John Kennedy, who had just taken office as president, and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The conference produced an angry confrontation over Berlin. Bernard Kalb, the State Department spokesman, repeated the American rejection of Gorbachev's call for a freeze in deployment of new nuclear weapons But he said that arms control issues were just part of the agenda that could be addressed at a high- level meeting. A high-ranking administration official said that the United States was waiting to hear something new from Gorbachev to demonstrate that the Soviet side was interested in breaking the stalemate that has existed for years on various issues. "It doesn't have to be on arms control, but that is the most visible forum and one that would have the most resonance," the official said. Kalb said, "We hope that Mr. Gorbachev's reference to giving a 'serious, high political level impulse to Soviet-American relations' indicates a willingness to move forward in all the areas that have just been mentioned." Robert McFarlane, the White House national security adviser, expressed open irritation at the publicity given Gorbachev's arms control statements, including the announcement of a halt in deployment of new Soviet medium-range missiles until November. Continuation of this moratorium is dependent on an American decision not to deploy any more Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe. "The president had hoped for something new coming from a new leader with an opportunity to take a new direction," McFarlane said. "And instead, what we had is a discredited proposal which was first raised about two years ago that had the effect of trying to freeze in place the Soviet advantage in these intermediate-range missile systems." The United States says.the Soviet Union has an advantage of at least 8-to-l in the deployment of medium- range missiles, counting some 828 warheads on SS-20s aimed at Europe against about 100 new American warheads. The ratio is greater if the SS-20s in Asia are counted, which would give the Soviets a 12-to-l advantage. Tom Dorwy UNDERCOVER — A field of henbit Monday engulfs a robin on a quest for worms at the corner of Fourth and Ellsworth streets. Churches must pay downtown assessments By GORDON FIEDLER Jr. Staff Writer Saying three downtown churches will benefit from the proposed central business district renovation, Salina city commissioners refused Monday to absolve the churches from paying assessments to help finance the project. The assessments apply to downtown property owners, including the First Christian Church, 201 S. Eighth; First United Methodist Church, 122 N. Eighth; and Immanuel Lutheran Church, 255 S. Seventh. But commissioners agreed to lower Immanuel's assessment rate to that of the two other churches. Immanuel is located in the higher-priced of two assessment districts and would have been billed $1.26 a square foot, or $37,800, for downtown redevelopment. The reduction in assessment to 56 cents per square foot lowers the church's bill to $16,800. The bills for the other churches will be more than $11,000 for First Christian and about $22,000 for First United Methodist. Commissioners voted 4-1 to retain the assessments, with Commissioner John Burgess dissenting. "I don't see where they would benefit one iota," Burgess said. In other assessment changes, commissioners voted unanimously to lower assessments for the United Building by applying the total square-footage charge against each of the five owners, rather than assessing each of the 10 floors in the building. The lower United Building assessments, combined with the drop in the assessment for Immanuel Lutheran, will result in slightly higher assessments for all other property in the district. Property owners in the more costly assessment district (property on or near Santa Fe) will pay about $1.31 a square foot instead of $1.26, according to City Manager Rufus Nye. The other property will be billed 56 cents a square foot, up a penny from the original figure. Representatives from the three churches argued that the assessments against them were unconstitutional and violated the 'principle of separation of church and state. Local attorney Jack Stewart, a member of First Christian Church and a spokesman for all three churches, presented commissioners with a 10-point position paper listing reasons why the churches should not be assessed. The improvement project was to enhance commercial and business activity downtown, Stewart said, and that "has nothing to do with church activities." Church property won't be enhanced, he said, and none of the churches needs more parking. The money paid by the churches and other downtown property owners will contribute about $1.5 million to the $6.5 million project. One of the proposed locations for a new parking lot is the Great Plains and Credit Bureau buildings in the 100 block of South Seventh. Members of the Salina Heritage Commission and others appealed to commissioners to save the 60-year- old buildings, which were built by Salina architect Charles Shaver. Today Today is Tuesday, April 9, the 99th .day of 1985. Inside Classified 12-14 Entertainment 16 Fun 15 Living Today 8 Local/Kansas 3,11 Markets 6 Nation/World 5 On the Record 7 Opinion 4 Sports 9,10 Weather 1 Weather KANSAS — Mostly cloudy today with widely scattered showers. Highs in the upper 50s to mid-60s. Mostly cloudy tonight with scattered showers east and lows in the 40s. Mostly sunny Wednesday, with highs in the uppers 60s east and low to mid-70s west. Senior citizens upset as House leaves them in hallway By DALE GOTER Kansas Correspondent TOPEKA (HNS) - In an action that raised the ire of senior citizen groups, the House Public Health and Welfare Committee conducted an impromptu and isolated meeting on the House floor Monday. There they approved a compromise resolution calling for voluntary compliance with the standard of 24-hour licensed nursing care in the state's nursing homes. Outside the House chamber were 30 to 40 people representing senior citizen groups who wanted to testify on the issue. State law prohibits lobbyists from coming on the House floor before 4 p.m. daily, and the House sergeant- at-arms denied a request by a committee member to bring a lobbyist on the floor for the meeting. Although the committee meeting was not open to the general public, a spokesman for Attorney General Robert Stephan said Stephen did not consider the action a violation of the state's Open Meetings Act. "The public is represented by the press," said Neil Woerman, and observers could watch — although not hear — from the gallery. "That's the way the Legislature does it," Woerman said. "The attorney general doesn't want to interfere with the legislative process." Although the committee already has endorsed the resolution, Committee Chairman Rep. Marvin Littlejohn, R-Phillipsburg, agreed to schedule a hearing at 7 a.m. today to hear from the groups who were waiting to testify Monday. Rep. Frank Buehler, R-Claflin, who made the committee motion to approve the resolution, said he would move to reconsider the action this morning. Buehler said he was not aware that the senior citizen groups wanted to testify. But Jan Bergman, a Seneca nursing home owner who wanted to testify, said she saw Littlejohn display to the committee the list of people who wanted to testify. The resolution was adopted by a one-vote margin, with Littlejohn breaking the tie vote. Rep. Gary Blumenthal, D-Overland Park, was unsuccessful in a substitute motion to have the committee meet the following day. "It made no sense," Blumenthal said of the committee's hurried action. "I was upset because they held the meeting on the floor and a number of people in the lobby who wanted to testify could not be present." Blumenthal said he attempted to bring one of the senior citizen group lobbyists into the meeting, but the House sergeant-at-arms denied the attempt. Marilyn Bradt, spokesman for Kansans for Improvement in Nursing Homes and a member of the Kansas Coalition on Aging, said the committee did not have all the facts on the issue because no public hearing had been conducted. "We're feeling rather testy about it, both because of the action itself and how it was taken," she said. The resolution is a controversial issue among nursing home interests. Passed by the Senate last week, the resolution provides for voluntary compliance by nursing homes with the standard of 24-hour licensed nursing care. A bill introduced earlier this session called for mandatory compliance, but the resolution was offered as a compromise. The mandatory provision was supported by a variety of senior citizen coalitions and groups, and also was endorsed by the Department of Health and Environment and the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, administrators of the state's nursing home programs. Health and Environment Secretary Barbara Sabol — a supporter of the mandatory care bill — also was critical of Monday's committee action. "My firm belief is that in a de- mocracy, you use the democratic process," she said. "People with interests (in legislation) should have the opportunity to speak to the issue. There has been no public hearing on the resolution in the House, and there was none in the Senate." The resolution also directs Sabol not to adopt rules and regulations ordering mandatory compliance with the 24-hour care standard. But Sabol has indicated she might disregard that directive if she sees a need for the mandatory provision. The resolution provides about $900,000 to reimburse nursing homes that voluntarily hire additional licensed nurses to provide 24- hour care. The mandatory program proposed in Gov. John Carlin's budget called for a $1.8 million allocation. Legislative opponents to the mandatory provision argue that the costs to private-paying patients would rise if the mandatory provision were adopted.

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