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County pledges $2,000 to health group initiative

By Maura Wery

The Riley County Commission decided Thursday to pledge $2,000 to an initiative to promote health, putting supporters of the project close to their fund-raising goal.

Commissioners did so after Manhattan Community Foundation CEO Vern Henricks updated them on funds collected to date in support of obtaining a $25,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.  The grant is designed to jumpstart a healthy community coalition that would influence public policy for health and nutrition. The county’s contribution leaves the coalition about $400 short of reaching the $12,500 needed by April 15 to qualify for the $25,000 grant.

Henricks indicated that financial support has been obtained from donors such as the City of Manhattan, Manhattan Community Foundation, Riley County Extension and the USD 383 Foundation.

“Our goal is to influence public policy,” Henricks said. “This is going to be a strong proposal.”

All three commissioners were impressed with Henricks’ ability to get the public behind the grant and decided to give a tentative verbal pledge matching the $2,000 committed by the city. The money will come from the health department budget.

Budget baseline

Commissioners decided Thursday that they would construct the budget baseline for 2014 in the same fashion as previous commissions. That means constructing the baseline for the 2014 budget on the statutory requirements of each department along with their needs for 2014. Commissioners also decided that consideration of step increases and additional staffing would be handled as in the past.

That means department heads will calculate step increases into their proposed budgets and will make their case for additional staff during their budget sessions, with commissioners vetoing or approving requests as they see fit.


Sales tax up

Riley County Treasurer Eileen King said sales tax revenue was around $146,651 for the month of March, up about one-half of one percent from March of 2012. She said growth mostly came from utilities while retail and auto sales remained mixed. King also observed that the tax revenue usually starts going up after the third month of the year.


Growth in Manhattan

Manhattan Area of Chamber of Commerce president Lyle Buter talked major growth with the commission Thursday. Butler talked about the importance of the National Bio Agro-defense Facility being included in President Obama’s budget, the state Department of Agriculture moving to Kansas State University and local business growth such as GTM Sportswear and Civics Plus.

He also noted that the former Quaker Oats plant is now owned by Continental Mills and will be expanding its product line to include wheat germ, snack and health food products to be sold in large chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Walgreens. Butler said the company will be adding around 65 more jobs. Although the building is located in Pottawatomie County, he said it will bring money and business to Riley County and Manhattan.

“We are looking forward to having a good partnership with them,” Butler said.

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