Officials want more information-sharing

Pepperd: Area entities should discuss goals, plans for growth

By Corene Brisendine

Area officials were inspired to further discussions and to increase information-sharing during the monthly intergovernmental luncheon on Monday.

“This organization needs to be used more for regional growth and regional planning,” said Mayor Loren Pepperd. “It’s got to communicate more on what each individual wants to do, and we are not doing a real good job of it folks.”

Pepperd said the city will be working on updating its comprehensive plan this year, but city planners might not be the best place to start. He said the city needs to talk to USD 383, Kansas State University, Riley County and Pottawatomie County to find out where and how they intend to grow. He said the city also needs to be in contact with police, fire and emergency services in order to determine where future stations may need to be. Beyond that, he said more lines of communication need to be opened with the Flint Hills Regional Council, which has received an economic development grant.

Pepperd said where and how the council plans to use that grant and potential sites of future development may impact Manhattan’s area planning. He said the MPO will also play a large role in developing and planning transportation aspects of the comprehensive plan.

Riley County Commissioner Dave Lewis agreed with Pepperd and suggested each entity give a presentation on 10-year goals of its individual organization so all agencies involved can be informed and updated. He said February’s meeting was “probably too soon” to have a presentation, but he said they should shoot for having one a month.

In addition to planning, Lewis said he wanted the various entities to be aware of possible taxation changes that will greatly impact various entities.

Clancy Holman, Riley County counselor, said there is a “big push” in the state legislature to pass the “machinery and equipment exemption.” He said that “push” stemmed from the fact that the state chamber of commerce was behind the exemption, and several candidates they supported were elected this past November.

Holeman said the exemption allows large corporations to reduce taxes on items that have traditionally been viewed as part of the building, such as overhead garage doors and awnings. He said their savings will be absorbed by residential and small businesses taxpayers.

Indications were that offsetting the resulting tax revenue loss would require shifting $6.5 million in county, city and school district property taxes to other taxpayers. Lewis said that represented an 11-mill impact.

Pepperd also said “the governor has promised to move ahead with the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction.” He said if the deduction is eliminated it will “critically impact” the housing market in Manhattan. He said many military members and veterans will not be able to use the “long form” or take deductions off their income tax because many do not qualify without the mortgage deduction. Also, he said Manhattan has 65-70 percent rental property, and landlords are able to continue to offer rentals based on the mortgage deductions they take on the rental property. She said if the deduction is eliminated, it is not unreasonable to see rental prices increase.

During the meeting, area governing officials received updates on the MPO, the Flint Hills Council and K-State’s 150th week of celebrations.

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