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Library, bus issues back before city body

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners will reconsider two previously discussed controversial items – library expansion and ATA Bus – at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Both the financial agreement with the Manhattan Public Library and the Manhattan Library Foundation regarding the expansion of the children’s section as well as a proposal for a right-of-way agreement between the city and ATA Bus generated discussion when they previously went before the commission.

Commissioners previously indicated they would agree to facilitate the loan to finance the $2.125 million library expansion if the library would agree to keep its property tax rate below the six-mill levy for the life of the loan. The library has the authority to tax local citizens for administrative costs. But it cannot exceed a six-mill cap instituted by the state, although that does not limit the library’s ability to raise the mills above six to cover employee benefits. The library board has concluded it can maintain the six-mill levy cap for the first five of the 10-year life of the loan. Commissioners may either accept or reject the compromise with library staff . For the remaining five years, the library’s proposal would allow it to raise the mill levy above six mills to cover employee benefits.

The right-of-way agreement for ATA Bus is to allow the bus service the ability to install bus stop signs along various fixed routes throughout the city. Commissioners asked ATA Bus to provide financial statements on the service and more in-depth information regarding the proposed routes, stops and design of the signs before they would consider allowing ATA Bus the rights. ATA Bus provided the requested information and has brought its request before the commission.

The cost of installing and fabricating the signs will fall on ATA Bus, and the service has a grant to cover the costs. ATA Bus needs to spend the grant money before June 1 or lose the funding. The city’s cost will only be related to the cost of staff evaluating the proposed stops and working with ATA Bus to designate the rights-of-way that do not create unacceptable traffic flow problems. ATA Bus wants to install 23 stops along four fixed routes and 18 signs along three Safe Ride routes.

The last two items on the general agenda include awarding a contract for the Manhattan Core District Improvement Projects and an ordinance adopting and amending the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. The improvement projects for the downtown area were bid on by various area construction companies. The lowest bidder was out of Kansas City, Mo., at $800,000 below the architect’s estimated cost of $3.5 million. Emery Sapp and Sons bid $2.7 million. Commissioners will consider awarding the contract.

The city adopts and amends the International Energy Conservation Code in order to reflect local building practices every few years. This year’s amendment includes five local changes: raising the exemption for low energy buildings to less than 15 British Thermal Units per hour from 3.4 Btu/hr.; allowing basement walls to be insulated at the time of finish instead of at the time of construction; deleting the requirements for insulating along the edge of slab-on-grade structures because of termite concerns; allow an exemption of the thermal block requirement for certain metal building roofs; and allowing compliance with the maximum lighting level section by installing at least 50 percent high efficacy bulbs.

Finally, on the consent agenda, commissioners have the opportunity to either reject or accept the fiscal agreement for the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Manhattan will be responsible for 59.9 percent of the cost. The proposed five-year budget anticipates an average annual cost of $59,918 with 2013 cost at $15,671. The payments are due June 1 of the preceding fiscal year in order to meet the annual MPO budget. The agreement also states if an entity does not pay its portion of the agreement, it will lose not only its voting rights, but also state and federal funding for any projects it has in the MPO. Manhattan has three votes of nine on the board.

City commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Commission Room at City Hall, 1101 Poyntz Ave. The meeting will also be broadcast on local cable channel 3. Because this is the first meeting of the month, an opportunity for the public to make comments on issues other than those on the agenda will be allowed.

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