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City issues improvement bonds to Manko

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners approved issuing industrial revenue refunding and improvement bonds for Manko Tuesday night.

Assistant city manager Lauren Palmer told commissioners that Manko plans to use $5 million of the $6.7 million bonds to expand its facility by 5,000 square feet. As part of this expansion, the company plans to create 33 jobs—six $20-$30 per hour jobs and 27 $12-$16 per hour jobs. This is not the first time Manko has received bonds from the city for expansions. In 2002, the company received $6.1 million and in 2005, $2.5 million. Both previous bonds included partial tax abatements; no abatements are associated with this one.

The remaining $1.7 million will be used to refinance a bond held by Manko in order to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Palmer said approval would not require the city to be responsible financially for the bonds, but it might reflect poorly on its reputation should Manko not pay back the loans.

“It’s really just action related to the city being that financing conduit for the industrial revenue bonds,” Palmer said.

During open comments on the item, Commissioner Jim Sherow read a letter from Geri Simon, coordinator for Manhattan Living Wage Coalition. Simon stated she thought the bonds for Manko was “worthy of consideration for government assistance” because of the 33 jobs the company plans to create with wages at or above $12 per hour.

Commissioners unanimously approved the bonds for Manko 4-0. Mayor Loren Pepperd was not in attendance Tuesday night.  The consent agenda was also approved unanimously by the commissioners after Commissioner Wynn Butler asked for a clarification on the KSU Center for Child Development Playgrounds Improvement Project. The city has $61,680 from a grant available to build the playground project, but the probable cost estimated by the architect is at $71,000. Butler said he did not want to authorize any additional funds from the city beyond the grant money to build the playground project.

He asked city manager Ron Fehr whether the item on the consent agenda would facilitate that additional financing. Fehr said it would not because the city has only authorized the grant money to be spent, and his staff is negotiating with the contractor and development center to keep the improvements within that budget. Fehr said a change order would have to be brought before the commission and approved to use additional funds beyond the grant money.

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