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Rec facility funding on agenda

By The Mercury

A potential November ballot question for Parks and Recreation will be up for discussion at the next city commission meeting. The Manhattan City Commission will discuss the ballot question Tuesday.

The work session starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

City officials expect that the study on improving Parks and Recreation facilities will be completed by April.

The city selected Bruce McMillan Architects to work on designs for the study, which is focused on building indoor recreation space at Anthony and Eisenhower middle schools as well as CiCo Park improvements, which include work on the ball fields and tennis courts.

City officials will start developing a draft sales tax question if the commission expresses its approval. There won’t be an official vote Tuesday.

This year, the city can choose to end the current quarter-cent “quality of life” sales tax, which goes toward the city’s pools and Sunset Zoo. The voters passed this tax in 2009.

If the commission eventually approves ending the tax early, this would allow for a renewal vote in November.

If approved by the voters, $27.5 million would be raised from a renewed quarter-cent sales tax. City officials consider this a conservative estimate based on the current performance of the sales tax.

This would cover the Anthony and Eisenhower additions, and CiCo Park improvements, which cost an estimated $8.5 million for each site. The tax revenue would also cover $2 million in trail improvements.

The Southeast Neighborhood Recreation Center, the third indoor recreation site identified by the study, will have a different funding mechanism, pending federal approval. With approval, the city will receive a $3.3 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the facility.

The facility would be at the northeast corner of 10th Street and Fort Riley Boulevard, the site of the former Douglass Center Pool.

The commission will also receive a year-end report on the Flint Hills Discovery Center during the meeting.

While still having more expenses than revenue, the center had its best full-year financial performance in 2016.

According to estimates, the center had $845,569 in expenses and $815,199 in revenue in 2016.

The estimated shortfall of $30,370 in 2016 is better than the previous years’ performances: $86,434 in 2013, $139,349 in 2014 and $132,371 in 2015.

The center had its first full year of operation in 2013.

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