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City ponders even split on joint fund with university

By Bryan Richardson

City commissioner Wynn Butler suggested Tuesday that the commission look into a 50-50 split of the city-university fund.

He said the concept would involve the city and Kansas State University each getting half the fund and determining what to do with the money on their own.

“There’s always been arguments on what constitutes mutual benefit between the two, and that seems to me to cause friction, which we could eliminate,” he said.

The purpose of the fund — which draws revenue from sales tax and franchise fees generated on campus — is to provide resources for projects deemed to be mutually beneficial for the city and Kansas State.

A committee evaluates the recommendations made to the commission after reviewing the university president’s projects proposals.

Butler dissented during the 2014 city-university fund vote, because he said the McCain Auditorium lighting system renovations didn’t seem to be appropriate use of the fund.

Jackie Hartman, Kansas State chief of staff and community relations director, disagreed and said that 70 percent of McCain use is by the community at large.

She said all of the funds are used to improve the city’s quality of life.

“We enjoy the partnership we have with neighbors that are close to the university,” Hartman said. “We work with the city on many, many fronts. I think at the core of this is the city-university relationship.”

Commissioners approved consideration of a down the middle split but expressed some concern about actually going through with it.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh said the city-university committee that evaluates the annual proposals serves as a very important bridge to relations between the city and Kansas State.

“I think if people are on the committee, and they find it burdensome or too much effort, then they should maybe resign from the committee and put somebody on that’s enthusiastic about it,” she said.

Commissioner Usha Reddi said some projects make the communication very necessary.

“It can’t just be, ‘You do what you want and we do what we want,’ ” she said. “I see that partnership as very essential for some of the bigger projects we see coming our way in Manhattan.”

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