City backs Colbert Hills financial support

By Bryan Richardson

The Manhattan City Commission added Colbert Hills support to the approved city/ university projects Tuesday, overriding the fund committee’s recommendation.

The city and K-State established the fund — made up of revenue from sales tax and franchise fees generated on campus — when the city annexed the university in 1994. Projects designated for funding are considered mutually beneficial.

The Colbert Hills Foundation, who owns and operates the K-State-affiliated golf course, requested financial assistance in 2015 because of its “disproportionate” funding of Grand Mere Parkway. The Grand Mere benefit district is a 50/50 split between the city and the foundation.

The city signed a grant agreement with the foundation to provide up to $360,000 from 2015 to 2018 using a combination of water funds, city-university funds, and bond and interest funds.

The commission voted 4-1 for a project list that included the Colbert Hills support because of the commitment made through the grant agreement. Commissioner Linda Morse voted against the projects because she disagreed with adding Colbert Hills.

Assistant city manager Kiel Mangus said the previous two years of Colbert Hills consideration also produced “pretty lengthy discussion” among the committee.

“There’s been some that have felt it’s not the best place for this money to be used,” he said. This year, the committee unanimously voted against recommending the funding.

Committee member Jeff Koenig said the city could probably find $30,000 elsewhere to fund the agreement.

“For what these funds are used for, which is stuff you can put on the ground and serve the community for a long, we just felt this Colbert Hills investment was a business deal,” he said.

Overall, the commission approved $750,000 in city/university projects: Third and final year of North Manhattan Avenue improvements ($200,000) Southeast campus corner lighted path ($100,000) Blue Light emergency telephones infrastructure ($75,000) Lover’s Lane sidewalk extension ($80,000) Lighting improvements of North Campus Gardens ($76,000) Campus bicycle infrastructure ($39,000) North campus corridor improvements ($150,000) Third and final year of Colbert Hills special assessment support ($30,000) The commission also unanimously passed a first reading to amend property maintenance ordinances as well as a Manhattan Regional Airport security agreement and truck purchase.

The city has to enhance security at the airport because ExpressJet, on behalf of American Airlines, will begin operating a CR7, a 65-seat plane, for the three daily Dallas flights, starting May 5.

Federal regulation requires additional security measures for any plane with more than 61 seats.

The city estimates the annual cost to Smart Security Inc. of Salina will be $48,545 to provide a security guard on an hourly basis.

The security technician truck will be purchased off of the State Bid List and will cost $18,645.37.

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