Commissioners to hire consultant for urban plan

By Corene Brisendine

City and county commissioners agreed Thursday to hire an outside consultant to complete a $335,000 update to the Manhattan Urban Area Comprehensive Plan.

Karen Davis, director of community development for the city, told attendees at a joint city-county meeting that three studies are proposed. The city would be responsible for $285,000 including $60,000 in updates to the Manhattan utility plan, $125,000 in updates to the Manhattan area transportation plan and $100,000 in updates to the comprehensive plan. The latter, which would include portions of the two counties Manhattan covers is estimated to cost $150,000, with Riley and Pottawatomie Counties picking up the remainder.

City manager Ron Fehr said the city commission budgeted for part of those costs last year, and the remaining portion would need to be budgeted in 2014. He said the city had projected covering the cost of the studies over a two-year time period with half paid in 2013 and half paid in 2014.

Davis said that on previous occasions where the issue has arison, county commissioners have divided their portion into a 50-50 split. This time, however, the counties could take that approach or could divide their share of the cost based on population.

In addition to the comprehensive update, city and county commissioners decided that consolidation of GIS systems would not save money or be more efficient.

Robert Nall, director of the IT/GIS systems for Riley County, said consolidation of the county, city and RCPD services would amount to shifting personnel from the city to the county. He said the police department also uses different software, making consolidation or inclusion impossible. Nall said he has looked into purchasing a blanket license for Riley County and the city for the software, but it is more expensive that having each governing body purchase its own. He said the most beneficial outcome of the study was that the entities found they could share more information among the departments.

City and county commissioners decided the next place to look at consolidation is concerning efforts to get an inpatient mental health facility for the area. Riley County commissioner Dave Lewis said he would be attending a meeting of 22 counties in June that will be discussing mental health care.

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