Blue Earth Plaza Christmas Tree
Posted: 26 November 2013 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  796
Joined  2012-10-10

Who paid for the tree south of the Discovery Center??  Was it donated?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 November 2013 08:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  479
Joined  2012-10-10

100% private funding by local business and hotels in the immediate area.  The city just gave permission to use the park for the light display and as a location for the tree.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 November 2013 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  796
Joined  2012-10-10

So, the tree was furnished, installed, and will be removed… all by private funding.  No labor or dollars of City resources involved?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 November 2013 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  479
Joined  2012-10-10

The business interests in the area - hotels each donated 10K or so to fund the project.  No city money is involved.  The city had to approve the project as the Blue Earth Park is city owned.  The city staff is involved in looking at the installation from the standpoint of safety, the large tree, to be sure it is anchored properly.  Parks and Recreation may have some small involvement in the project, but it is minimal.  The city has not contributed any funds to the project.  Here is a summation of the original concept that was presented to the City a couple of months ago:

Over the past several weeks we’ve had a group meet to discuss having a interactive-light show across the street in the green space at Blue Earth Plaza.  We feel that a large tree can be afforded along with each property lining their roof tops with lights.  We are also reviewing the cost in covering all the trees along 3rd street.  Our goal is to have all the lights interact with holiday music that can be played on the hour or half hour (ie; 7-10pm).  Ultimately we would like to have all the green space filled in as with some sky light (strand across existing poles) for the courtyard next to the fireplace.  Additionally a fireworks show from a top the parking garage to kick-off night (Friday after Thanksgiving).

Since the city owns the Discovery Center, Conference Center and parking garage your voice and support would be greatly appreciated.  Several of the partners (including Hilton) have pledge $10,000 each for the first year.  The goal is to reach $65,000-$75,000 to really get something started.  We would continue to build it out as each year rolls around.  Staff from the hotels, businesses, city and possibly the downtown association would work together to erect/remove everything. 

I will be there this Friday for the lighting.  This is an excellent initiative.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 December 2013 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  71
Joined  2012-10-11

Hope someone is watching out for the GEO lines below the park that serves the Discovery Center. Drive an anchor through one line to support a tree or some other structure and there goes you HVAC for the Discovery Center. .  Just say’n

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 December 2013 08:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  796
Joined  2012-10-10

Dave, they don’t care.  They just flatout don’t give a hoot.  Tear something up… the taxpayers will replace it.  HVAC system for the Discovery Center???  That’s peanuts.  We taxpayers are going to take the hit for a $2 million exhibit.  Previous Commission raised the transient guest tax ceiling to 7%.  Was 5%.  Said they would levy 6% to cover the costs of the DC.  If that didn’t cover the costs, they still had the additional 1%.  Now, the political cronies say they don’t want to raise the bed tax.  Just tack it onto the property tax.  Previous commissioner/mayor/now hotelier, doesn’t even live in Manhattan.  He won’t get hit with the bill. 
School Board wants another bond referendum.  The $95 million wasn’t enough.  Property taxpayers will foot the bill for more schools and more administrators.  No problem.  County Commission says the Emergency Services… Ambulance barn… is outdated.  Gotta build a new one for umpteen million.  No problem.  They are trying to install a “Building Commission” so they can get around even taking that one to the voters.  Just tack it on to the property tax bill.  We have to pay it.  One week from tomorrow, the City Commission will give a private group the goahead for a ballot referendum for another $54 million for playgrounds.  Those enhancements will cost the City taxpayers an additional $2 million/year for operational costs.  No problem.  Property tax.  We’re all rich, here.  Half the board for the $54 million project doesn’t even live in the City Limits.  They don’t have any skin in the game.  Let the blue-collar folks have to leave town because we can’t afford all the amenities to entertain the elite.  That’s what it’s coming to.
There is a good chance we will see our already high property taxes take double-digit increases over the next 3 to 4 years.  Folks in Timber Creek, Wamego, Tuttle Creek areas, McDowell Creek, etc. are laughing their heads off.  All you have to do is convince the Chamber it’s a great idea.  The Chamber operates the puppet strings at City Hall.  It’s just another property tax increase.  No big deal.
City going to move P&R to City Hall.  That construction will cost a mint.  Then, they will shove through the $54 million P&R enhancements and say, “Sorry.  No longer room for P&R at City Hall.  Gotta go build a new building for them.” 
Poking a hole in a geo-thermal system is minor, compared to what’s coming down the pike for Manhattan property owners.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 December 2013 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  479
Joined  2012-10-10

To clarify the transient guest tax or Bed Tax:  The City Commission (previous) approved a levy of up to 7% for the bed tax.  It has the authority to levy up to 7%.  It has not chosen to levy 7%.  At present the tax is 6%.  1% of that tax is being used to cover Discovery Center cost.  This was done to limit the tax impact.  Two weeks ago the commission approved the cost of exhibits at the DC.  That resulted in a 1.8 million dollar bond.  The cost for those exhibits are currently a property tax item, and will result in a mil levy of .373 for ten years.  I would personally like to see this amount covered by the CVB budget or the Eco Devo budget.  If that is not possible, then raising the bed tax should be considered.

Parks and Recreation was/is concerned about the tree placement, anchors etc.  They were involved in that process to insure that no damage was incurred and that safety was maintained.  I see no negatives in the business sponsored lights festival. 
The City Hall/Gym/PR office project will not cost a mint –if the original plan is implemented.  The finance plan for that project as originally planned would not involve any tax increase.  The 2.8 million is already in the budget or is part of personnel cost savings.  As that plan is on hold, pending a further architecture study – it is possible that any new plan will cost a mint.  Especially if the project involves a new basketball court, plus a stage.

The Field House plan is of course far outside any budget plans or CIP projections.  If the plan as proposed actually passes we will see a City debt in excess of 300 million.  Two weeks ago the city passed more temp and GO bonds some 14 million in aggregate.  Everyone seemed to be pleased with the interest rate and all were impressed with the city bond rating.  Few folks read the details contained in the ratings, especially concerning debt:

Standard & Poor’s– Manhattan’s debt and contingent liability profile is very weak with a total-governmental-fund-debt-service ratio of 30% of total governmental fund expenditures and a net-direct-debt ratio of 243% of total government fund revenue.  We consider debt amortization above average with official’s planning to retire 63% of principal over 10 years, in our opinion; this is not high enough to have a positive effect on the debt score.

Fitch –The City debt burden is high.  Fundamental to the rating is the expected reduction of debt levels over the intermediate term.  Tax-supported debt service represents a considerable claim on resources at 25% of governmental fund spending in 2012.  This number includes debt repaid from dedicated sources …..  The City’s overall debt load totals $5,355 per capita and 9.1% of market value. 

Moody’s -  What would change the rating?  Continued increase to an already high debt burden.  At 6.5% of full value (9.15% overall), the city’s direct debt burden is elevated.  The Aa2 rating reflects …adequate reserve levels and unlimited levy raising flexibility.

As I read the bond rating agencies comments it appears that they do not agree with the Mercury, City Finance Staff and selected City Commissioners view that the debt is nothing to worry about, unless you take the Moody’s comment to heart - The Aa2 rating is awarded due to the unlimited levy raising flexibility of the Commission.    The debt as published at the end of OCT was 268 million.  It will be around 277 million at the end of December.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 December 2013 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  796
Joined  2012-10-10

Wynn… as I said, “They don’t care!!!”  Jankovich… a banker… is dead set on any spending item that has to do with sports or is put forth by the Chamber.  He doesn’t care that property taxes will increase, as long as his Marlins and ball teams have their arenas for socially connected parents to sit and applaud.  McCulloh doesn’t care!  She has never seen a spending proposal she isn’t in favor of.  Build it.  It’s just some more added to the property tax.  Reddi talks big in the discussion portion of the meetings.  Then, she votes with McCulloh.  Bernie brags about how he can afford the property taxes and doesn’t mind the increases.  Look at the new salary schedule that will be approved in tonight’s Commissoin Meeting.  Once you find Bernie’s salary, you’ll see why he doesn’t mind paying more.  More spending… bigger budget… more employees answering to him… more salary…

Profile
 
 
   
 

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | The Manhattan Mercury, 318 North 5th Street, Manhattan, Kansas, 66502

Reproduction of any kind is prohibited without written consent.