Commissioners to vote on budget, rezoning

By The Mercury

City commissioners will vote on the 2015 budget at their meeting Tuesday.

The commission agreed to publish the budget as presented July 22, but at the work session, a majority of commissioners expressed an interest in lowering the property tax mill levy by moving eight capital improvement program projects originally paid for through other funds to the economic development fund.

The budget cannot be raised after publication, but it can be lowered.

Six of the items originally were budgeted from the general fund ($115,168), and the remaining two items were from the fire equipment reserve fund ($115,940).

In addition, the proposed revenues for the Flint Hills Discovery Center were increased by $21,024, which further reduces the 2015 mill levy from a .628-mill increase to a .586-mill levy increase. The total proposed city tax levy would be 44.01.

A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value.

The proposed 2015 general fund budget of $28,292,316 reflects a 3.8-percent increase over the 2014 budget.

Most of the proposed increase will go toward merit-based and cost-of-living salary increases for city employees.

Also on the agenda are two rezoning items.

The first would change the zoning on a proposed housing addition in the Grand Mere neighborhood.

Under the change, the Merion Addition, a 29.4-acre tract of land west of the end of the fifth fairway of Colbert Hills Golf Course, would go from a single-family residential suburban district (R-S) to a single-family residential district (R-1) and multiple-family residential district (R-3).

According to city documents, the site, which is part of the Reserve Addition, originally was zoned for large, estate-sized single-family lots.

If the measure is approved, part of Merion Addition would have smaller single-family lots, and part of it would have 18-unit apartment buildings.

A report from city planners said that aside from a slight increase in light, traffic and noise, the impact to the adjacent areas would be minimal.

The Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board has recommended approval of the measure.

The second rezoning agenda item proposes amending city zoning regulations to include hospitals as conditional-use buildings in C-1 restricted business districts.

The proposed ordinance came about because Action Pact Design on behalf of Jeff Mathis contacted the city about establishing a psychiatrist and psychologist office and mental health hospital in existing buildings at 720 Poyntz Ave.

Currently, outpatient offices are allowed in C-1 districts, but hospitals, which typically include inpatient care, are not. City administrators are recommending changing the text of the ordinance to include hospitals as conditional use for C-1 districts.

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