What can tax presenters say?

By Maura Wery

Riley County officials discussed the line between advocacy and education in presentations related to the half-cent sales tax during Thursday’s County Commission meeting.

County Counselor Clancy Holeman raised the question in the context of the presence of Chamber of Commerce representatives at such presentations, which are being held over the next two months. Holeman noted that the Chamber had endorsed passage of the tax, and said their portion of the presentations needed to be sure not to “blur the line between educational and advocacy.”

Commissioners also questioned whether to address inquiries such as “Is the sales tax a regressive tax?” Holeman told them he considered that to be too much of a risk.

“It’s going to be hard to defend which hat you are wearing,” Holeman said. “If someone approaches you in a grocery store, that’s different, but overall it’s going to be a tough sell.”

Commissioners decided to go to the next chamber board meeting on Sept. 20 to discuss the program being educational rather than advocative.

Wildcat Creek improvements

Noxious weed director Dennis Peterson has received several complaints about tree branches cutting into the road on Wildcat Creek. Peterson explained that the department usually waits until winter to deal with such concerns, but is also concerned that they will have neither the staff nor equipment to get the job done.

Peterson explained that the department needed to get a bucket truck in order to complete the project safely. At this point, employees are operating with a rigged bucket truck. “That is just a workman’s comp claim just waiting to happen,” county clerk Rich Vargo said.

The commission suggested that Peterson put in an order for a new bucket truck and they would work on getting it filled as fast as possible.


Lakeside Heights Sewer District

Assistant county counselor Craig Cox came with plans for the new Lakeside Heights Sewer District petition. Cox explained that in order to get the district approved, owners of more than 51 percent of the district’s acreage had to sign a petition to approve it. He said more than 89 percent had signed the petition. That finding allowed the commission to schedule a public hearing for the district on Sept. 29.


Agricultural survey

A new survey from the Riley County Appraisers office will help in both efficiency and cost in reviewing agricultural land that is in use, appraiser Greg McHenry told commissioners. He said that the survey will save them from having to drive all over the county and allow them to get feedback from landowners.

“We sent out more than 3,000 surveys,” McHenry said. “We got responses from properties with small acreage to entire sections of grassland.”

McHenry estimates that the using the survey is saving around $4,200 and has been giving the appraisers office good responses and feedback so far.


City projects

Manhattan city manager Ron Fehr talked about new projects that the city is planning. Those include the Poyntz Avenue redesign along with downtown parking regulations. Another big project is doing well but is causing some confusion. Fehr said that the Konza Water Project is causing many people within the district to ask the question “Is my water from the city?” The answer? It’s not.

“What we are doing is wholesaling water to that area,” Fehr said. “They aren’t the city’s customers.”

Some other projects that were discussed were the new Candlewood Suites, Forth Street Lofts, the Cico Tributary, and the K-18 construction.

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