The LWC makes a point about jobs being created that are under the 12 dollar amount. That is true and they point to GTM which is valid. But this is all spin as it pertains to events that took place years ago. It is not a focus on the future. They fail to point out the recent track record of Economic Development. First the application procedure for requesting economic development funds was changed to heavily weight in favor of higher wages. This resulted in the last two companies (Prathista and Civics Plus) all paying above the living wage. That should be considered a success. The one company that did not pay above the living wage for all employees was in fact MATC – they applied for funds for additional classroom buildings. They had two employees on the books that were below the living wage. But the funds provided gave them classroom space to train people for jobs that pay above the living wage. Does it make sense to deny classroom space because of the pay scale of two employees? I have only voted on three of the “eco devo” applications. I like the MATC and the CivicPlus applications the best of the three. Some thoughts on the LWC position:
1. The LWC has already achieved most of its goal by the changes to the economic development application.
2. Future applications should and will be judged on their total merit. The more they pay in wages the better. But flexibility is needed like on MATC. Is it better to have classrooms that provide better jobs in the long term or is it better to reject an application because of two employee wages?
3. A no vote on the ½ cent sales tax will not force a change of perspective in the view of any City Commissioner on the topic of whether or not government should determine wages.
4. A no vote will not provide any incentive to increase wage levels.
5. A no vote on this topic demonstrates a very myopic viewpoint. The tax is about five things, roads, smaller cities, debt reduction and finally infrastructure/economic development. Many people tend to label this tax as an economic development tax, which it is not. The break out of funds would go 33% to Riley County Road and Bridges, 2% to the smaller cities in Riley County to use as they please, 23% to City of Manhattan Property tax Relief, and 42% to be allocated to Infrastructure and/or Economic Development as determined by the City Commission. In reality the City Commission could use all of the funds for Infrastructure and none for economic development. So the LWC will vote no because they are concerned about the fact that over the past two years economic development funds were given to MATC and two people were paid less than the living wage. Kill the tax on that issue and gain, pot holes in the County Roads, a 9 mil or so tax increase between County and City, added pressure to reduce CIP projects and further cuts in special interest projects like library expansion. Does not seem to me to be a very brilliant idea.