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Field Houre Project on Commission Agenda for 10 December
Posted: 24 November 2013 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The Field House Project will brief the City Commission on 10 December.  A packet was provided to the City with the background of the project and the cost.  Some key points from the packet (Italic material is direct from the packet, bold highlight is my addition):
The proposal is basically this:

—Renovate Anneberg Park to become a top-notch baseball/softball park, with eight new all-turf fields. This would allow much more reliability in terms of scheduling for competitive tournaments, practices and recreation-league games. Soccer fields at Anneberg would be removed to make room for this. Other Anneberg amenities would remain unchanged, such as the lake, playground, and walking trail.

—Build an indoor recreation facility at CiCo Park. This 160,OOO-square-foot facility would have six basketball/12 volleyball courts, with indoor batting cages/pitching tunnels, indoor turf space for soccer/football/baseball practice, a rock-climbing wall, indoor children’s play area, and multipurpose rooms. Baseball fields and tennis courts would come out of CiCo to provide space.

—Also at CiCo, build a suitable track “infield” facility for throwing events, adjacent to Bishop Stadium, which the school district and private donors have recently greatly improved.

—At City Park, equip City Pool with a retractable cover over the SO-meter competitive area. The recently-rebuilt pool was constructed with that possibility in mind, and adding that would allow the pool to be used for far longer periods of time, providing swimming amenities throughout the winter. Also at City Park, reconstruct the six existing tennis courts into nine tournament-quality tennis courts, which are in need of repair. Decrease one baseball field from City Park to accommodate the additional space needed for additional tennis focus and to protect City Park green space.

—East of town along the U.S. 24 corridor, build a new soccer complex with 12 turf fields. We have lined up a potential private landowner willing to donate the land for that purpose, assuming the deal can be finalized.

This will certainly cost money, and we believe it merits considerable scrutiny and discussion about how to make this happen.

But the consultant found this: For a real out-of-pocket investment by the city of just over $1.7 million per year, the entire effort could generate an economic impact of more than $36 million per year for the community. As one member of our committee put it, “I’d take that investment return every day of the week!”

The total construction cost of the project is expected to be around $54 million, according to the consultants’ projections.

The consultants’ projections indicate that the city would need to subsidize the operation to the tune of about $2.6 million per year. The direct sales tax that the city would collect on increased economic activity directly related to the facility would be over $900,000 per year, so the actual out-of-pocket expense to the city would be just over $1.7 million per year.

As to the mechanics of how to pay for this, we would suggest consideration of a sales tax of one-half of one percent. It’s our understanding that that could finance the construction costs.

So the Field House project is not a plan that will be privately funded.  The proposal now appears to be based on the use of City Park land, the redirection of the design of the City Parks, a permanent subsidy of a minimum of $1.7 million per year, possible management by Parks and Recreation and a ½ cent sales tax to pay for the construction cost.  Billed as a good investment and a quality of life issue; it all hinges on the desire of the Manhattan Citizens and businesses to raise taxes. 

The City debt was $268 million at the end of October. On November 19th the city converted $5.675 million in temp notes to GO bonds.  These GO bonds included 1.8 million dollars for Discovery Center exhibits and will have a direct impact on mil levy of about .33 mills per year.  The city also issued about 14 million in new temp notes.  The Go bonds retired about 5 million in temp notes.  So that gives us a net increase of around 9 million.  The city debt will be pushing 280 million by the end of the year.  The library bond issue also passed and will add a further 1.7 to 2 million to the quality of life. 

The 10 December 2013 City Commission Work Session will discuss the Annual Economic Development Report and the Fieldhouse Project Request. 

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Posted: 26 November 2013 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Until there is a report on what age group this will benefit, how this will work for the young getting to it without some sort of transportation being provided and why this is being shoved down the tax payers throats. I am opposed to any of this until the bills are brought down from the millions we already have to pay off. Another ½ cent being taken while telling us (the tax payer) it is only temporary and only amounts to $3.00 a year increase. Is this the consultants pushed on us by the dictators from the chamber? If so you can count my vote opposed. I want some representation and they do NOT represent me in any way shape or form. Curb costs cut budgets live with in what is taken in not what you project to take from the taxpayers in a future tax grab. In other words prove to me this will cost me nothing and benefit the MAJORITY, not just the few that can get there.

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Posted: 26 November 2013 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I thought the forum was DEAD, hence hadn’t posted anything about this diabolic excuse for hammering the taxpayers… some more.  The Fieldhouse proposal attempts to suggest they are only asking that a ballot referendum adding 1/2 cent sales tax be approved by the Commission.  If this is approved… If this thing makes its way through a ballot referendum, property taxes for the residents of Manhattan will go through the roof.  This boondoggle will take an estimated $2 million/year to maintain and operate.  That $2 million is over and above what current P&R budgets are.

To date, we have seen a small handful of the offspring of the socially connected utilized the PUBLIC City Park Pool at no cost.  The City can’t even find lifeguards to operate the pool until Labor Day.  Now, they want to put a retractable roof over the pool so it can be used year round?????  Woops!  Can’t find lifeguards, so it can only be used for The Marlins since they don’t need lifeguards.  The residents… again… will see property tax increases pay the way for the “connected ones” kids to recreate.

In addition to the pool, they want to build a large indoor complex at CiCo.  That facility will need supervisory personnel on site.  Or… will that faciltiy, too, be shut to the public and only be available to private entities?  Will those private entities be allowed to use ALL these new facilities at no cost,  just as The Marlins have been granted access to the City Park Pool??

Tennis courts in CiCo used by residents in the neighborhood will be dozed in and no longer be available.  Soccer fields will ONLY be available east of town on Highway 24. 

The Fieldhouse website says this is a collaborative effort between the Manhattan and Wamego communities.  Yet, the residents of the City of Manhattan will pay the bill.  If this thing goes to a ballot referendum, that needs to be a ballot referendum forwarded by the Riley County Commission and the Pott County Commission.  If this thing goes to a ballot referendum, the impact needs to be felt by the residents of the region… not just the citizens of Manhattan.

Go to the Fieldhous website and determine how many of the Board are actually residents of the City.  Many who are campaigning for this to happen… Many who are putting social and political pressure on the Commission to get on board don’t even have any skin in the game.  They sit in Timber Creek or Wamego or up at Tuttle and tell us how blessed we will be to open our checkbooks to make great things for THEIR kids to enjoy.

This was initiated under the concept it would be a private enterprise and not be operated or funded by the City.  Now, they feel the Chamber holds enough pull with the Commission to put the financial burden on the taxpayers so they won’t shoulder the risk.  Shut this down!!!!!

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Posted: 27 November 2013 04:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The above project, if approved, will cost the City taxpayers $58 million in construction costs and $2 million/year in operational costs.

The City is ready to spend money on new offices for the Parks & Rec Department.

The City taxpayers will soon see a hit for an expansion of the library.

Riley County is in the initial planning stages for a new ambulance facility.  The current facility, at Sunset and Claflin, is outdated and outgrown.  Hence, a new facility is being proposed.  That new facility will raise local property taxes.  Currently, the cost of a new facility… such as would be required for the Emergency Services… would need to go before the voters.  There is a ‘back door’ effort to install a “Building Commission” which would allow the County Commissioners to spend your tax dollars on such facilities without voter approval.  This is being brought in ‘under the radar’ and could end up costing ALL property tax payers in Riley County dearly.

The School District is saying the recent $95 million bond was not enough.  Hints are being made that the School District will need more to build new schools and update existing facilities.  The recent bond is not anywhere close to being paid off.  Look for an increase in the School District portion of your property tax.

Recent prognostications by the City of Manhattan Finance Director indicate City taxes will need to continue increasing for the next couple of years in order to pay current debt commitments.

Not to worry, however.  Our City Commission is in charge!!!  Budgets for social service programs designed to assist those falling on hard times will be cut.  The dollars saved will then be available to for the Commission to do the bidding of the Chamber and spend money to entertain the children of the socially and politically connected.  The City, to satisfy the “shadow government” pulling the puppet strings, could deem the proposed recreation enhancements as “economic development”.  The Fieldhouse Group and the Chamber will put forth that all costs will be quickly overshadowed by the stampede of people coming to Manhattan to spend dollars at motels and restaurants.  If this will be such a boon to local tourism, pay for the operational costs from the current economic development sales tax or increase the transient guest tax the additional 1% available to the Commission.  There are already too many “tax vultures” hurrying to get their proposals before the various government bodies in order to take another bite out of each and every property owner’s pocketbook.

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Posted: 11 December 2013 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The Field House discussion covered a bit of time last night.  The meeting is posted to the City Website.  Looks like it will be further discussed at the Commission retreat in January.  My take on the project is narrowed down to a few key points:
1.  First the cost is too high.  The city is within 51 million of the debt limit as of November.  By December the 2 million library project and another 7 million in new temp notes will be added.  This will reduce the debt limit to around 42 million.  This 54 million dollar project breaks the bank.
2.  Operating cost for the project will be between 1.7 and 2.6 million per year, for an indefinite amount of time.  Funding for this part of the plan is nebulous.  It appears to me that this may become a property tax burden.  The Discovery Center was projected to be a great economic driver.  In reality the subsidy is being covered mostly by the bed tax.  But the mill levy in the future will include at least 1/3 of a mil for DC exhibits.  It (the DC) has become a property tax issue and so will this project. 
3. The 54 million is proposed to be financed by a sales tax.  We just passed a sales tax for roads, jobs and DEBT reduction.  A tax to increase the debt is counterproductive.
4. The project was billed as a Field House.  It is not a Field House project – it is the traveling team/sports tournament project. 
5. Some components of the plan as presented have merit and should be incorporated into the CIP effort for Parks and Recreation – as determined/recommended by the Parks Advisory Board. 
6.  We must retire more debt before the City takes on any new major building projects, at least 50 million.  The recently passed sales tax allows debt reduction of 1 million a year, as long as the commission retires as much debt as it adds. 
7.  The main points of the plan boil down to economic development and more sports fields for the kids.  If it is primarily an eco devo effort then it should be financed through an eco devo request.  If the real idea is for more park facilities then the advisory board should take up the issue.  If we need more sports facilities, then the addition of a basketball court and removal of the stage in memorial auditorium is in line with the request.
8. The project can be put to a public vote, but only if the group completes the petition process.  The voters need to bring forth a petition requesting the project and the tax, before this becomes a ballot issue.

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Posted: 15 December 2013 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Great letter to the editor in today’s Mercury!!!  There are more than just a few who view the Fieldhouse fiasco as simply using the citizenry at large to fund a playground for the privileged.  Hopefully, this entire idea will quickly go away.  As long as the people of the community recognize it for what it is… “affluenza”.

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Posted: 15 December 2013 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Some people have been smoking too much of something. This proposal while being idiotic, is also an attempt by some to circumvent a vote that was already taken on the matter. There is a more disturbing element, however. As was mentioned in a letter to the editor, this seems to be an attempt to privatize the “public” parks system in Manhattan. Now, that is OK with me as long as they are willing to do this with their own money. Lets face it…a dozen of these proponents could finance all this out of their loose change, but they would prefer to soak the taxpayers for it…that is why they have so much loose change. Rich people don’t get that way by being benevolent. 

I only hope that most people will see through this major scam, and send them packing. If they want it, let them pay for it.

This nonsense about bringing big bucks to the city has been trotted out before, and, in every case, it has been a lie. We are not destined to become the sports mecca of the midwest.

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Posted: 15 December 2013 10:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Excellent reference to the DUI court case - “affluenza” makes it OK.

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Posted: 16 December 2013 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Michael, I respectfully disagree with your suggestion this is an attempt to privatize the public park system.  As some governmental functions are “privatized”, the responsible branch of government comtracts with a private entity to provide services similar as to what were being provided by government employees.  Access to those facilities remains available to the public… the folks paying the bill.  In the case of the Fieldhouse group, they want the City taxpayers to continue funding, maintaining, and operating the parks.  However, priority access to those facilities will be to the privileged.  Those not “connected” either by wealth or social status will be relegated to facility use OUTSIDE “their” schedule.  This is not “privatization”.  This is an attempt to use tax dollars to “pirate” the use of the facilities away from the common citizen and see them reserved for those of importance. 

Two items really bring this to light.  One is the prevelance of those pushing for this costly enhancement program who are not even citizens… taxpayers… of Manhattan.  They feel entitled to have we who live here provide for them.  Another key item is the proposed retractable cover for City Park Pool.  Currently, this facility is not available to the public once lifeguards head back to school.  Now, we’re supposed to enclose it so the privileged can use it year round.  Won’t be open to the public, since there is still the lifeguard issue.  Will only be available for those of importance… like The Marlins.

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Posted: 16 December 2013 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I agree in principle. I do consider it privatization, however when private entities attempt to run public programs, which is apparently the case here. These people just don’t want to cough up the money. I wish they would…we could sell them the parks then they could build whatever they wanted and for whomever they want. With all the profit, the city could build new parks and pools. I’d say 400 million should be a fair price for the existing parks and we could throw in Northview as a bonus….End of city debt limit and with about 50 million to boot…no more maintenance…lots of ready cash. Then the city could condemn the rest of fourth street, and build a water park next to the Discovery Center….or, maybe condemn the downtown and put a nice park and pool right there. That would certainly revitalize the downtown area, and people might actually go there. Bill Snyder has said he was overpaid so he could chip in the first few million needed for the purchase.

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Posted: 16 December 2013 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I find that articals by Steve are researched very well and for the most part address the sentiments of a vast majority of the park users. Not just a given few as is the case with this flawed proposal. interesting how when the park pool issue came to the commission it was said the life guarding would not be an issue as the swim team will donate for the use of the facility. Humm, how’d that work out. The park wanted to close the pool early because it was too hot. I recall setting in numerous NE park meetings to help guide the process of what was to be in the park. Mainly to ensure as best as I could that as many sports activities were represented. Now this proposal wants to start by specializing what each park does, has and who it is built for. That is just wrong and there is NO other way to say it. Furthermore how is it they can proclaim private money paid for the study when we ALL in Manhattan know what is going on with the Chamber and our visitors tax issue that was even addressed in the Mercury tonight (Monday 12/16. When I go to make a purchase I do not go to the other side of town to get their input and desires. So why include every city in a 40 mile circle? You can figure it out with out their wishes and desires. Hell they aren’t going to pay for it. You need to ask the people that are paying the bills not some” free-be” hunter 25 miles away. How is it that these few ( 3%) think the 97% must subsidise their fun? 1.7 to 2.5 million annual costs?  Really! How irresponsible can you be to push the debt to the limit and beyond. Let alone the added costs of operation. Stupid comes to mind. Keep the parks with a multitude of features at eacg one to serve more than the one. Why in years past the idea of an indoor facility was addressed and tossed out because of not wanting get into” private enterprise” and run, manage and pay for such facilities yet now its OK? Nothing has changed for me on that, the city needs to stay out of private enterprise operations such as this. A lot of issues on this one topic too many to type out on a phone. If this goes through the taxpayers should really blow up on this. This is wrong and the funding for the study should tell a story when this group can’t even be truthful in their presentation about who has paid for the UNWANTED study. This is a shame.

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Posted: 16 December 2013 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Good post, Dave!!  I just don’t have much faith that common sense will prevail.  There is too much money behind this effort to subsidize the privileged.  The Chamber has tossed their hat… and tax dollars… into this to support their current president whose kids will benefit.  The effort is headed up by someone living in a close to million dollar home in Wyndam Heights.  Speakers at the City Commission Meeting included a banker from Wamego and residents of Timber Creek… neither who will foot the bill.  Children were given speeches to read in hopes commissioners would feel empathy and hand them the playground they feel “entitled” to.  I didn’t see the support from the Commission I expected to see.  Even if the City bows out… the chances of you and I paying the bill for these enhancements does not go away.  Current Riley County Commissoners are the type who drool over the possibility to have their names on brass plaques in new facilities.  The new “Building Commission” that seems to be on track with Riley County will be able to commit property tax dollars to building programs without the use of ballot referendums.  The Fieldhouse Group will probably have support from the County.  Now, they will need to go outside the City Limits or coerce the City into consolidation of the City and County Parks & Rec Departments. 

The other entity eyeing the possibility of being able to tax us into oblivion is a fairly new group, Flint Hills Visioning.  This group wants to spend money to enhance the quality of life for a 5 county region.  They just presented to the Riley County Commissioners.  They might possibly get buy-in from 3 of the 5 counties and build something outside Manhattan.

Again, there is way too much money behind this group for it to simply go away.  They will spend tens of thousands of what tax dollars they can grab from the Chamber and like organizations to leverage the $54 million they want from the taxpayers.  The political and social element in this group is extremely strong and has the ability to pull puppet strings with a number of elected officials. 

... And, tomorrow night, the City Commission will once again hand a check for over $1 million to an organization charged with marketing Manhattan.  In less than 3 weeks after they promise to encourage Manhattan dollars to stay in Manhattan, they will take tens of thousands of dollars to Overland Park… including thousands of tax dollars for travel and lodging of local elected officials and local government staff.  Even though they have spent tax dollars producing videos of ladies jumping on hotel beds to promote Manhattan lodging and meeting rooms, Manhattan isn’t fancy enough for the group themselves.  But… when you have the local Commissioners as lap dogs….......

Again, we are soon to be hit with another school district bond referendum.  We will soon be funding a new County Emergency Services building.  The City is well on their way to hit us with taxes to build new Parks and Rec offices and to add on to the Library.  MATC is beginning presentations to the elected bodies in hopes of becoming a “community college” so they will have taxing authority.  Some regional community colleges have mil levies from 6 to 9 mils.  The City debt structure will see property tax escalations necessary for the next few years.  Even if the Fieldhouse dies a quiet death, I still see our property taxes going up a minimum of 20% in the next 5 years.

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Posted: 17 December 2013 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Lighten up guys. This proposal has about the same chance of going through as a snowball in Hell.
This commission will never approve of this going to another ballot. Remember, this was tried before and soundly rejected.
Same will be true with the other Flint Hills Wish List. It is simply too expensive a venture.
I am wondering why these folks just don’t expand the country club….add a pool, some basketball courts, maybe a couple of soccer fields…then we could all be happy. No one pees in a country club pool so the rich kids will be safe.
There is a simple answer to a complex “problem”.

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Posted: 17 December 2013 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Break it down to the freeloaders if they really think they deserve this share the costs with them

Here is a start based on their information of responses let them pay their part.
  Responses Percentage $51,000,000.00
Manhattan 1217 60.16%  $30,681,600.00
Wamego 249 12.31%  $6,278,100.00
Junction City 61 3.02%  $1,540,200.00
St. George 32 1.58%  $805,800.00
Riley 16 0.79%  $402,900.00
Chapman 7 0.35%  $178,500.00
Leonardville 7 0.35%  $178,500.00
Alta Vista 6 0.30%  $153,000.00
Westmoreland 6 0.30%  $153,000.00
St. Mary’s 6 0.30%  $153,000.00
Ft. Riley 6 0.30%  $153,000.00
Milford 5 0.25%  $127,500.00
Belvue 5 0.25%  $127,500.00
Randolph 3 0.15%  $76,500.00
Ogden 3 0.15%  $76,500.00
   
    $41,085,600.00
   
    $9,914,400.00
  First year of operational costs $2,500,000.00
   
Left over for: The Chambers from all the cities and counties behind this as well as, Board Members and buisnesses (that claimed they would benefit from this expense) to pick up along with the annual costs to operate.    $12,414,400.00

Now based on that lets see if they like that.

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Posted: 17 December 2013 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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David,
That was cute but I know of no one in Leonardville who gives a rat’s ass about this project…so, we aren’t paying…sorry…too bad….stop by later…have a good day.
This is a Manhattan-inspired project and I believe it is somewhat unfair to label the rest of us as freeloaders when we did not initiate this fiasco. No one in most of those cities you listed cares what Manhattan does, other than the effect on our property taxes in Riley County. We are somewhat at the mercy of your fickle follies, with little or no benefits.
So, save your blabbering bluster for those who deserve it and shut up about the rest of us.
Have a nice day…and work on your spelling.

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Posted: 17 December 2013 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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And another thought . . .
Any household in the city limits of Manhattan with a combined income of $100,000 or less is to have free access to the facilities without charges or fees applied, so they can afford to go. Knowing sales and property taxes will be way too high for them to afford anything other than taxes.
The scheduling of tournaments in the facilities such as ball fields, soccer fields or any park can only be done once a month for one weekend only. The rest of the time is for the citizens of Manhattan City to use for intramural sports and practice only given you can show proof of living within the city limits.
You want to be stupid let’s get real dumb and charge ourselves into the poor house. Fiscal responsibility by dying (you fill in the blanks).
The more I think about all the kids left out in this and how the tearing down of the parks to serve for more than one function just makes infuriates me to no end.
And just for you Hadley I do not care about spelling as near much as you do, I never claimed to be some English major. Sorry that bothers you so much, you may want to overlook the grammar as well or even fix it and re-post it if you so desire. You got the point and that’s what matters. Seems when the costs are shared out even those that are not part of it get stuck.
Point is based on their survey that is the % breakdown no matter how it is spelled out.

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