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Commission approves measure to divert funds for pool projects

By Corene Brisendine

Manhattan city commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that would allow surplus sales tax revenues to be used on other pool-related projects.

City finance director Bernie Hayen said that the resolution gives the city an option to spend the excess $1.2 million a year that is currently being collected from the quarter-cent pool tax for projects like upgrading equipment or improving the parking lots at the three city pools.

Hayen said that the city currently has about $3.6 million in extra money collected from the tax that was adopted in 2009, but could not use that money without commission approval.

Hayen said after the meeting that the extra revenues are the result of two factors: Pool renovations and other work cost well below original estimates, and sales tax revenues have been well above estimates made when the tax was created.

“This tax was created in 2009, but we had the biggest sales tax revenue ever in 2012,” Hayen said.

Sales in Manhattan topped $1 billion in 2012 and again in 2013, thus generating considerably more revenue than projected.

Hayen told commissioners that if the city does not use the money while the bonds are being paid from 2012 to 2022, then after the bonds are retired, the extra money would go into the general fund — to be used for capital improvement projects or to lower the mill levy.

Commissioner Usha Reddi said that she would not feel comfortable using the money for anything other than what the citizens approved on the original ballot, which was to upgrade the city pools and build an educational facility at Sunset Zoo.

The rest of the commission agreed.

Assistant city manager Jason Hilgers said that with the resolution passed, city staffers would be able to select projects over the next few years that would be aligned with what the voters wanted — as well as keeping other funds from being used to upgrade the pools.

Hayen said that if the tax were allowed to continue until 2019, it would generate about $8 million in extra funds. He also said that the commission could vote to have the tax stopped as early as 2016, when enough revenue would be generated to pay off the bonds.

However, he said that there would not be extra funds to do more improvements to the city pools if the tax is retired early.

Commissioners agreed that it would be up to the commission in 2016 to decide whether to retire the tax early or keep the money available to pay for extra pool projects.

Hilgers said that during the budget session this summer, city staffers would identify potential pool projects for 2015.

OTHER ITEMS

 

Commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning of Lot 10 in Heritage Square to create two lots — one for Salisbury Supply and one yet to be determined.

The planning board also voted unanimously to approve the rezoning.

The commission also approved all items on the consent agenda with a 5-0 vote:

* Carl Taylor, 916 Yuma St., asked the commission to repeal the no-parking zones along the 900 block of Yuma to allow for more parking at Mt. Zion Church. He said that parking is already congested in the area, and repealing the no-parking zone would allow for more parishioners to attend on Sundays.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh said that the commission would consider his request.

* The Jarbeaux house, 402 Bluemont, was sold for about $14,000 by a Manhattan couple who said that they plan to fix up the house and use it as a residence.

The city originally acquired the house and moved it to make room for the roundabout at Fourth and Bluemont.

Commissioner Wynn Butler said that he was happy to see the house finally sold.

“I personally considered it a liability,” he said. “Now, it’s not a liability, but an asset.”









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