Please vote NO!! 
Posted: 22 October 2012 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hundreds of e-mails are going out from the Chamber, begging the recepients to vote for the sales tax.  The City Commissioners who are in the Chamber’s pocket are advocating for the sales tax.  And… a County Commissioner who has no conscience about people’s food costing more or people’s necessities costing more is a major cheerleader for the tax.

The tax has 3 components…

1.  County road maintenance.  A large portion of the dollars will go to maintain Riley County roads outside Manhattan.  This money does NOT go to maintain our City streets, yet the citizens of Manhattan will pay the bulk of the dollars.  Road maintenance should be budgeted for and paid for by those who use the roads… not people who live in Manhattan who are eeking by each week or people who live in surrounding counties.
2.  Economic development.  A portion of the sales tax revenue will be handed to the Chamber.  We are told this revenue will somehow “make” hundreds of jobs.  Manhattan has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the State.  We are a dynamic community with NBAF on the way and additional spin off entities.  Do we really need to hand the Chamber dollars to jet to conferences here and meetings there to ask people to locate businesses here?  Do we really need to hand the largest employers in the area even more dollars to spend on their private aircraft and Lexus autos? 
3.  Debt reduction.  The final portion of the sales tax will go to pay down the escalating debt load of the City of Manhattan.  Why should we be coerced into paying a small portion of the tax for debt reduction, just so a few can retain their handouts?  Why have just the Manhattan businesses in Riley County pay for this debt reduction and not the businesses located in Pott County?  WalMart… Dillons East… Murdock Chevrolet… Menards… GTM… there are dozens of businesses that would NOT charge the sales tax, even though they are located in Manhattan… just not in Riley County.  If the City Commission would implement a city-wide sales tax on the April 2013 election cycle, we could get far more “bang for our buck” in paying down the City debt.

This is a tax geared to benefit a few… at the cost of many.  No retiree on fixed income… no single parent family trying desparately to stretch food dollars… no one should be asked to take money out of their pockets and hand it to large corporations making millions.  But, that’s what you will be voting for if you support this tax.

No matter what the outcome, we must all work together after the election.  I see no way the money the Chamber has spent to promote this tax won’t guarantee its success at the polls.  If it does pass, we must still impress upon our elected officials the importance of spending every available cent for debt reduction.  We must stay close to the County Commission, stressing the need for them to run a tight ship and not depend on this revenue stream for eternity. 

Please vote NO!!!

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Posted: 23 October 2012 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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well, this is the ‘chamber tax,’ so why wouldn’t they be putting on a full court press.  i’ve spoken to folks i trust who have opposite views on whether it will pass or not.  one says it falls by 10 points.  another says it passes easily.  god knows which it correct.  all that chamber money has bought a lot of attention for their side.  that is clear.  whether it’s negative or positive is the question. 

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Posted: 23 October 2012 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Bob Strawn - 23 October 2012 12:49 PM

well, this is the ‘chamber tax,’ so why wouldn’t they be putting on a full court press.  i’ve spoken to folks i trust who have opposite views on whether it will pass or not.  one says it falls by 10 points.  another says it passes easily.  god knows which it correct.  all that chamber money has bought a lot of attention for their side.  that is clear.  whether it’s negative or positive is the question. 

Which poses the question… How much of your eco-devo tax dollars have been spent to advocate to take more of your tax dollars for eco-devo???  I’m dizzy!  And, I assume the Chamber thinks we all are when it comes to this shell game.

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Posted: 24 October 2012 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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When a group or business that has been around for a long time is spending loads of money advocating that their position is the correct one I take a step back and wonder why that is necessary or true.  If they are actually “creating” jobs, making Manhattan money why do they need to push so hard to let the general public know this?  We should be able to see the gains made from the money we have already spent and no one outside of the chamber has any idea where the money goes.  I would be very surprised if this actually passes and hope it fails miserably. 

Bob weren’t you saying on the previous message board that if this does not pass it will probably just come back reworded and reshuffled at a later date?

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Posted: 24 October 2012 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hypothetically, if it fails the City Commission would bring back and City of Manhattan sales tax referendum for the April 2013 election.  The total revenue stream from that referendum would go to pay down the City debt and assist in cushioning the upcoming property tax increases.  However, we currently have some City Commissioners deep in the Chamber’s pocket.  These commissioners love the back-slapping, ego building accolades of serving on the Chamber Board and being dignitaries at Chamber functions.  I don’t know if there is enough backbone on the current City Commission to put forth a ballot referendum dedicated to ONLY debt reduction.  Pepperd, Butler, and Sherow will be hard pressed to tell the Chamber “NO!”.  Matta and Jankovich might.  It will take 3 of the 5 to “grow some” for a City sales tax to exclude the Chamber.

Historically, Manhattan has had some sort of eco-devo tax for years.  The old Medofab predated the current eco-devo tax.  Some of those dollars have paid dividends… some have not.  No one, except for those being handed the revenue, has performed an exhaustive analysis of the taxpayer return on investment.  Advocates for the new tax use buzz phrases like “...every $1 dollar of taxes has levereaged “x” dollars of…”  The are tax abatments that are self-audited.  Too much “smoke and mirrors”.

The voters need to think in today’s reality… not tomorrow’s prognostications.  Reality… Our property taxes are going to escalate dramatically.  We need every available cent of sales tax to pay down the bond and interest fund that is driving that increase.  Reality… Our area is blessed with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the State… in the Country.  Why are we wanting to hand an agency millions for “jobs” when the labor pool is shrinking?  Wouldn’t we be better served using those dollars to maintain a reasonable property tax rate for the citizens who live here?

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Posted: 24 October 2012 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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michael, i don’t believe supporting the tax is bad, ethically.  i mean all these chamber guys are friends of mine.  they believe what they’re doing is right for mhk.  they believe in trickle-down government at the local level, but in a way they absolutely abhor coming from washington.  there is no difference here.  solyndra with the feds.  prathesia with the city. 

originally, commissioner butler proposed a tax that would be split in thirds - eco-devo, infrastructure and debt reduction.  i thought that made some sense.  but the chamber and city staff went nutso because that would have essentially cut their eco-devo funding in half. so, butler and matta compromised on a 65% eco-devo share with 35% debt reduction.   

if the current question fails, i believe they’ll bring another, as larry suggests above, that will look more like butler’s original proposal.  and the county will field it’s own that speaks only to road and bridge repair.

here’s the greater problem, however - once government gets incremental revenue streams like these, they become dependent on them because they always spend the leftover money on other ‘stuff.’  the county, remember, built a ‘taj mahal’ complex north of town with money that otherwise would have been spent on roads and bridges.  why?  because they had the sales tax proceeds to do the road work.

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Posted: 24 October 2012 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think some of the information put out by the city is misleading.  In particular, GTM is listed as the largest job creator, and while that is probably accurate, the funds provided to GTM were from the old MEDOFAB program and not the current tax from 2002-2012.  The fine print explains it, but I find it misleading to list GTM as a success story from the 2002-2012 tax. 

http://www.cityofmhk.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=11924

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Posted: 24 October 2012 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Great to see you join us, Kathy D.!!!  Question… Does the “City” actually put out any information re jobs and the eco-devo dollars that doesn’t come through the Chamber?  Would the Chamber allow the City to publish less than stellar numbers?  Garbage in… garbage out!!!

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Posted: 24 October 2012 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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There’s certainly no mention of the failures (2Linc, Light Solutions, Paragon, Sykes, Alorica) in the promo materials.  And to be fair, the failures might have received MEDOFAB money and not the current tax funds.  But, if the city is going to promote a business that benefitted from MEDOFAB as a success, shouldn’t they also mention the MEDOFAB failures?

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Posted: 24 October 2012 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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don’t forget collegiate marketing which has been in loan default to the city for a very long time.

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Posted: 25 October 2012 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The tax in reality has five components.  Funds derived from the tax will go to Roads and Bridges, Smaller Cities in Riley County, City of Manhattan Debt Reduction, City of Manhattan Infrastructure and Economic Development.  The tax comprises five distinct uses for the funds.  The breakout of % amount to each of the five groups is – 33% to roads, 2% to the smaller cities (used for any purpose), 23% property tax relief City of Manhattan and finally 42% to be split between City of Manhattan Infrastructure and Economic Development.

The 42% of the total tax (65% of the share Manhattan receives) will be allocated between Infrastructure and Economic Development as determined by the current and future City Commissions.  This provides some flexibility.

Larry posted three main points that require some clarification:

Larry says that the County should pay for the roads.  Remember the residences of the city are also in the county.  We pay both county and city tax.  So if the tax fails and the County has to raise more money for roads the citizens of Manhattan will be taxed. 

A portion of the tax is dedicated to Infrastructure and Economic Development.  It is not money going to the Chamber.  The City Commission has the flexibility to allocate all of the funds derived to infrastructure if they so desire.  In the event any of the funds are used for Economic Development the funds will be allocated according to the City of Manhattan Economic Development procedure.  The money is not handed over to the Chamber.
The Debt reduction portion of the tax will amount to between $900,000 and a million dollars per year for ten years.  I agree that if we could have devoted all of the funds to debt reduction it would have provided a bigger bang.  However if we are able to allocate the majority of the 42% to infrastructure and we already have 23% dedicated to debt reduction, the end result could be 63% of the funds going to what amounts to property tax relief - 23% to the bond and interest fund and 42% to infrastructure, they eliminating future bonds.

I believe that the City Commission as a group crafted the best possible resolution for presentation to the voters.  The tax language was crafted to provide the broadest interpretation and was designed to be inclusive of the desires of the population.  The City Commission did not have the ability to prevent the tax from being placed on the ballot.  The Commissions only course of action was the crafting of the resolution to explain expenditures.  Some on the Commission supported 100% use of the funds for economic development others wanted 100% for property tax relief.  A compromise was reached and now the voters need to determine the final outcome. 
If the tax fails it leaves open a future ¼ cent city wide tax for debt relief and infrastructure and it lowers the County and City Tax rate by ½ a cent.  The failed tax most likely will also result in increased future city and county mill levies.  A failed tax will also limit the continuation of economic development initiatives.

If the tax passes it will provide some immediate property tax relief, support some selected infrastructure projects and continue economic development efforts on a smaller scale. 
I support the resolution passed by the City Commission that outlines the possible use of the continued Riley County ½ cent sales tax.  I also support a spirited discussion of the facts surrounding the tax.  The voters will determine the fate of the tax in November.  My personal goal is to continue to strive for responsible growth, support of needed infrastructure and frugal use of tax dollars.  I will continue pursuit of that goal with or without the 1/2 cent sales tax.

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Posted: 25 October 2012 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Several posts have mentioned the failure of the Economic Development effort. I personally like the idea of investing more in Infrastructure and Debt Relief as opposed to the traditional economic development efforts.  The old tax had the money fenced for Eco Devo and did not have the flexibility that the current proposal contains.  The attached file contains detailed comments about the recent economic develoopment report.  The report itself would not indicate that the Eco Devo effort over the past ten years was a failure it also does not show a 100% success rate.

Some key points:

City Economic Development efforts it is necessary to go all the way back to November of 1994 and include the MEDOFAB project and then add it to the 2002 Roads and Jobs tax.

39 entities (not companies) have been allocated funds over the years. Entities include program administration expenditure of 1 million dollars, miscellaneous MEDOFAB cost, support of Down Town Manhattan, regional jet service support, purchase of the National Guard Armory, purchase of tech park property, an Equicenter study for KSU and pure infrastructure projects like the K-18 improvement.

31 of the entities could be termed companies – this includes MATC, NBAF, Manhattan Holdings, KBED (Knowledge Based Economic Development), KSUIC (KSU Institute for Commercialization) and KEC (Kansas Entrepreneurial Center) and KEC.
Six of the 31 companies have defaulted or gone bankrupt. 

19% of the investments made in entities termed as private companies have been a total failure. $24,568,878 has been allocated to the Economic Development effort through 2012. Approximately 5.9 million has been lost due to the default of companies. The loss amount is approximate and can be mitigated as the city retained some assets like the TDM building which was later sold to the National Guard. As a result of economic development, the city owns or has interest in a number of properties. These include the old KSARNG armory building currently being used by Prathista, the KSUIC building, the KEC facility, a claim on the CMS building and three housing tracts at the Airport Industrial park.

Six of the companies supported have received some form of Tax Abatement -  CivicPlus, Farrar Corporation, Florence Corporation of Kansas, GTM Sportswear, ICE Corporation and Manko Window Systems. Those companies however did pay property tax, special assessment tax and personal property tax in an aggregate total of $304,496 for 2011.

Property taxes of $971, 318 were paid(2011) by companies that received Eco Devo dollars (17paid taxes).

The report indicates that the city has assets of $9.6 million in building or land as a result of the Eco Devo effort (this is approximately 28% of the Eco Devo funds).

The labor Force Statistics from the Kansas Department of Labor indicate that Manhattan has experienced a 14% net job gain in the timeframe January 2002 to July 2012 with an unemployment rate of 3.5 to 5.3 percent. The implied message from the Eco Devo report is that the 1442 jobs (about 6.5% of the growth) can be directly attributed to the Eco Devo effort.

http://ourmanhattan.org/manhattancitycommission/economicdevelopment.html

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Posted: 25 October 2012 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Larry referenced a Chamber Letter asking folks to vote for the tax.  Here is an email version that includes the video that was prepared, not by the Chamber but a PAC called Save Manhattan Jobs (see credits at end of vid) supporting the tax.

The email message that is being circulated.

I am asking that you take 2 minutes out of your busy schedule right now to look at a video that directly impacts you, your business and your employees.  First, I want you to look at the video; second, forward the link to your employees or show it at a staff meeting and third, forward the link to your family and friends that live in Riley County.

If you want to see lower property taxes, the creation of quality jobs and improved roads and bridges then view this video and pass it on.  We are talking about the renewal of the ½ cent Riley County Sales Tax.  Without its passage your business and personal property taxes will go up; Manhattan will no longer be able to support local quality job creation, which would also include attracting private sector companies that want to come here because of NBAF;
and our area roads and bridges will not get the repairs and upgrades they need.  Finally, a good portion of this sales tax will be paid for by the 1,000,000 people that visit us each year and the hundreds of thousands of shoppers that regularly trade here.

The Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors unanimously voted to support the renewal of the ½ cent sales tax.  Please view the video and then vote on or before November 6th. 

Save Manhattan Jobs video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hqsp1vxle2o&feature=youtu.be

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Posted: 25 October 2012 09:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Mr. Butler, you mentioned that you would like to see more of the tax spent on infrastructure and debt relief as opposed to traditional economic development.  When I look at the pie chart (pg. 7) in the document from the city’s web site that I linked to above, it looks to me like 74% of the collected tax went to infrastructure.  Am I interpreting the information correctly?  If not, help interpreting the chart would be appreciated.  If so, then I’m not understanding your concern that not enough has been devoted to infrastructure, or do you mean more should be devoted to debt relief?
http://www.cityofmhk.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=11924

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Posted: 26 October 2012 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Debt relief and infrastructure are so close that they may actually be the same thing.  Take the sales tax issue.  23% would go to direct debt relief. The funds would go to pay off Bond and Interest amounts.  But if the city just keeps taking on more bonds to buy more infrastructure, it might end up being a losing battle.  By using most of the 43% on infrastructure instead of the traditional economic development, we can continue the CIP projects, without taking out as many new bonds.  The end result would be a net lowering of the City Debt, which is the goal. 

The chart the city provided tends to put a spin on the infrastructure.  It includes buildings like the Armory.  The city gained some buildings (infrastructure) as a result of economic development.  Those building assets look good on paper, but do not help reduce the bond and interest fund.  They also do not equate to roads, bike paths, parks etc. 26% is true infrastructure, but even that is inflated with the NBAF dedicated funds.  The K-18 interchange at the Airport is one that can be identified as infrastructure.  My point is that the expenditure of funds on infrastructure should have a positive impact on the City budget.  The purpose is not to amass property, but to take care of the core functions.  The library board wants to put a 1.5 million dollar expansion on the building.  That expansion is going to result in more city bonds.  The library is City Infrastructure and should be considered for support if this tax passes.  My point is that I would define use of the economic development funds for infrastructure in terms of CIP projects, bike paths, parks, roads, library expansion etc

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