Forgivable loan among items on city’s docket

By Corene Brisendine

The library, fireworks, the airport and an incentives package: City commissioners will consider a range of items that have previously created a stir during their Tuesday meeting.

Commissioners will consider giving a $100,000 forgivable loan to Continental Mills. The company wants to relocate its Wild Roots Trail Mix operation to the old Quaker Oats plant here.

The company would be required to create a minimum of 12 jobs with hourly wages being $14.59 and salaried positions starting at $45,000 per year. The city is willing to give the company $1,750 in loans per job created above the initial 12 to a maximum of 68 jobs, capping the forgivable loan at about $119,000. Employee benefits must also include insurance coverage paid by the company at a minimum of 80 percent of the cost of the premiums. Palmer said the company currently covers 90 percent of the cost of insurance for its employees.

A second potentially hot item on the agenda is a request to authorize the city to seek bids for the passenger terminal expansion at the airport. Palmer said the FAA will not allow the city to apply for grants that could cover up to 80 percent of the cost of construction until after the entire project has been bid on by construction companies. Although the city plans to complete the project in stages, the entire contract will be submitted for bids. This item would not authorize construction, which will probably be presented to the commission after the elections.

Commissioners will also be asked to annex and rezone the Congressional Addition (in teh Grand Mere area) from county R-PUD, residential planned unit development district, to R-M, four-family residential district, and R-1, single family residential district.

Beyond those three items, two items on the consent agenda could be moved to the general agenda for more discussion. One is an amendment to the Code of Ordinances on fireworks. Two changes are proposed. The first is a ban on the sale and use of aerial luminaries. In previous discussions, members of the public expressed concern about giving sufficient advance notice to vendors.

The second change is an amendment that would give the city manager, in conjunction with the mayor and emergency services director, the power to declare an emergency ban on the discharge of fireworks under special circumstances.

Assistant City Manager Lauren Palmer said circumstances could include the drought Manhattan experienced last year. She said the changes would also include the ability to set alternative dates for fireworks to be shot off, possibly extending the season beyond the normal dates.

The second consent agenda item that has caused citizens to descend en masse on previous meetings is the library expansion proposal. The Manhattan Public Library Board of Trustees and the Manhattan Library Foundation have agreed to change the financial obligations of the library from one-third of the cost — up to $800,000 —to a flat contribution of $800,000.

They also agreed to increase the initial payment from $250,000 to $450,000. Palmer said the commission may decide to put this item on the general agenda for further discussion.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Commission room of City Hall.

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