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Final OK for 2014 budget

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners plan to hold a public hearing at 7 pm on Tuesday for the final 2014 city budget. At the same meeting, they’ll also the proposed redesign of the interchange at Seth Child Road and Fort Riley Boulevard.

City manager Ron Fehr said the proposed budget complies with commissioners’ desires to keep the mill levy flat. But, he said, that included adjustments, among them delaying the purchase of a new fire truck and increasing rental fees for Parks and Recreations facilities. In addition, staff also plans to raise cemetery fees by 25 percent.

Fehr said the cost of operating a cemetery increase about 5 percent per year, but the city only raises the fees to reflect the increase every five years, which is why city staff proposes to raise the fees by 25 percent this year.

The current-year levy is 43.44 mills. Assuming the commission adopts that as the 2014 levy, taxes for most property owners would still rise due to valuation increases, which averaged about three percent this year on residential properties. The increase would amount to about $15 per $100,000 of property value, from about $485 to about $500. The total spending authority is proposed to increase from about $121 million to about $129 million, about a 6.6 percent growth rate.

After hearing from the public, commissioners will either approve or reject the 2014 budget.


Although commissioners will not make any formal decision on the Seth Child Road/Fort Riley Boulevard interchange, this will be the first time the redesign will be brought before the commission. This action follows the public meeting held last week where the public gave the engineering firm that conducted the study feedback on which redesign best suited Manhattan residents.

City staff will seek guidance from commissioners whether to proceed with design and construction of the intersection, to which the Kansas Department of Transportation has committed $900,000. After putting a portion of that money toward the study, the city has $860,000 from KDOT to complete the project. The total cost is estimated at $1.3 million, and the city would be responsible for $785,000. It is proposed that the city’s portion come out of the Special Street and Highway Fund or the Bond and Interest Fund.



Other items on the general agenda include a proposed rezoning for 1021 and 1027 Thurston Street. The Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board denied the rezoning because it is a two-family residential district with a traditional neighborhood overlay. The proposed rezoning would allow the property owner to build a multi-family residential complex with 15 units.

Fehr said the city is also recommending rejecting the proposal because it is working on the 20-year comprehensive plan. He said if the comprehensive plans do not change the nature of that area, the proposed complex would not fit within that plan.

Commissioners will need a 4-1 majority vote to override the planning board’s decision to reject the proposal. They could also send the proposal back to the planning board for reconsideration. If they do that, then even if the planning board rejects the proposal again, commissioners would need only a simple majority to pass the zoning request.

Commissioners will also decide to approve or reject an amendment to lots four and five in Heritage Square to build a convenience store and car wash. Fehr said the way the original ordinance was written, each time a new business wants to build in the Heritage Square, an amendment to the ordinance is required. The planning board recommended approval.

On the consent agenda, commissioners plan to allow the airport terminal expansion to go out to bid. Fehr said the project will be bid as a whole rather than two separate stages as designed. He said the FAA decided to let the project go out to bid before approving funding. Fehr said the city will have the option to only complete the first phase rather than both once FAA approves funding.

Because this is the first commission meeting of the month, a period for public comments will be allotted. Commissioners meet at 7 p.m. in the City Commission room at City Hall. The meeting will also be televised on local cable channel 3.

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