Pottawatomie County official balks at city’s sales-tax plan

By The Mercury

At least one Pott County official opposes the notion of sales-tax revenue generated in Pottawatomie County being funneled to Riley County.

Pott County Commissioner Stan Hartwich took issue Monday with the Manhattan City Commission’s preference to increase its city sales tax rather than renew a countywide sales tax for Riley County.

Such a move, Hartwich said, would increase the sales tax in the Manhattan portion of Pottawatomie County, with some of the revenues going to Riley County.

“I don’t think that’s fit and proper to take money out of Pott County and give it to Riley County,” Hartwich said. “I think it’s something we need to discuss. If we want to challenge it in any way, I think we need to do it up-front and right now.”

Hartwich cited a front-page story in the March 28 issue of The Manhattan Mercury in which Manhattan City Commissioners said they preferred a one-half-cent increase in the citywide sales tax instead of seeking renewal of the countywide half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2002.

The city’s proposal would also include a new interlocal agreement with Riley County stating that the county’s share would be one-third of the revenue.

Manhattan officials said the citywide sales-tax increase offers several benefits over the countywide option. Primarily, it would generate about $800,000 more in annual revenue and much of that increase would be captured in the Pott County portion of the city.

Pott County Commissioners asked Administrator Robert Reece and Counselor John Watt to research the issue further.

In other business Monday:

• Watt said six groups of properties were sold Friday at the county’s property tax foreclosure sale held in the courthouse at Westmoreland.

Most of the properties sold for more than the total of the delinquent taxes, Watt said, noting that excess funds would be returned to the original owners.

“Then we’ll do this again in a year and a half,” Watt said. “At that point it should be a lot easier process.”

• Tim Eisenbarth, noxious weed director, said 12 bales of cardboard, 14 1/2 tons of newspaper, and five tons of magazines were recycled in March.

In January and February, 58,000 pounds of other recyclables were transported to the recycling center in Nemaha County, he said.

Currently, the transportation cost is about $4 per loaded mile, Eisenbarth said. “As diesel fuel continues to increase it’s going to hurt us a little bit.”

• Gregg Webster, zoning administrator, reported 24 building permits issued for the month of March — six of those for new dwellings.

“It was a pretty busy month for March,” Webster said. “Being nice, everybody wants to build.”

• The commission appointed Bob Peterson to the planning and zoning board.

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