What are total, long-term costs of ‘improvements’?

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Over the past several months I have had conversations with a number of Manhattan residents about our city and county taxes, and none of us seem to understand in simple terms how we are paying for all the “im-provements” that have occurred over the past 12 years.

For example, we have the north and south downtown improvements, the new traffic circle, the Flint Hills Discovery Center and other additions in parks and recreation. Most of these projects required Trans-portation Development District, Star and Tax Increment Financing bonds secured by the city’s full faith and credit and its as valorem taxing power, “without limitation as to rate or amount.” In each case, the obligations were secured by a pledge of state sales tax (Star Bonds) or city sales taxes.

I, along with most people, need a simple recap of where we are in paying off these enormous obligations.

Are we taxpayers getting enough visitors to the Discovery Center to pay off the Star bonds?

Are we taxpayers, collecting enough sales tax revenue for the TDD and the TIF investments?

What are the due dates for the various bonds?

Under current property taxes, are we able to finance the increased personnel and main-tenance costs of all these projects ?

Are any of these projects going to require an increase in local taxes to pay off the obligations?

Perhaps The Mercury could research this and provide a simple response that would clarify this very important issue. There are many citizens who believe we need this infor-mation before we even consider embarking on another very costly project, like the Field-house. City commissioners please take note.

Obviously a local group is pushing for a building project that may cost $40 million to $50 million. But that is only the tip of the projected total cost. What about long-term maintenance and personnel expenses that will be annual budget items?  Unless they can come up with ALL or at least half of the financing, where is the rest of the money to come from? Please don’t tell me a bed tax and increased local sales, like the Discovery Center.

I will await the Mercury’s response.

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