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Top 10 most exciting small cities in America
Posted: 30 April 2014 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]
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If you were to read the forums it’s all doom and gloom around here but Business Insider see’s things differently I guess.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-10-most-exciting-small-cities-in-america-2013-12

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Posted: 30 April 2014 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The only doom and gloom I see comes from those commissioners who decry the debt while committing millions to bureaucratic offices and basketball courts.  And, just an FYI, Michael, building lots of buildings is the “boom” of the moment.  Let’s see if they fill up or keep paper in the windows before we start crowing about “booming”.  On the other hand, we’ve got Topeka beat hands down.

Criteria, from your link:

Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)

Live music venues per capita

Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)

Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)

Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower the better)

Percentage of young residents ages 20 to 34 (the higher the better)

 

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Posted: 30 April 2014 05:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The linked article says our “cultural hub” is Aggieville.  Huh?  So, the culture of Manhattan is centered around a strip of bars where college kids go to get drunk.  Wow!  What a compliment.

If we are that “special”, why did the Commission suggest last night we need to spend $75,000 partnering with the U to see how we can improve.
If we are that “special”, why are we $44,000,000 deliquent on street repairs… and it sounds like we’re going to see a ballot referendum to raise our sales tax to pay for that.
If we are that “special”, why are we considering spending $200 million on new recreational facilities for the elite?
If we are that “special”, why was there no mention of the military members of our community who add so much to who we are?
If we are that “special, why did we hear hints, last night, that the new Mayor will try to slice dollars out of an already stretched budget?  (Bet it’s not long before we hear the song and dance that we need to stop assisting our citizens who fall on hard times.)
If we are that “special” why do we need to hand one organization $1 million/year to make videos of ladies jumping on hotel beds while vulgar music plays in the backgorund?
If we are that “special” why does a bar owner proclaim on the front page of our local newspaper that he controls the police department and the elected officials?

Manhattan IS a very special place.  Manhattan is a GREAT place to live.  There is much more than the local drunk fest that makes it that.  And, if our “comservative” minded City Commission continues handing out money as if it were candy… only to the elite, while attempting to strip it away from the less fortunate… soon, no one will be able to afford to live in this “special” City.

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Posted: 30 April 2014 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Larry:  I wanted to add clarifications:
1.  All five Commissioners believe that part of the comprehensive long range plan for the city has to include the vision that the KSU President has for K-state.  The expansion of the University is directly tied to City Infrastructure and is clearly economic development.  The 75k that will most likely be invested in the planning partnership with KSU will come from the Eco Devo Fund, the most appropriate source.  No vote was taken yesterday as it was a work session.
2. The Public Works director presented a computer model generated plan for long term street maintenance.  Essentially the goal is to maintain all city streets at a minimum of a 70 PCI – Pavement Condition Index.  At present the city allocate $1.1 million per year for contractor street maintenance. If that level is maintained the PCI will fall from a current general 72 level to 58 by 2024.  To prevent a deterioration of maintenance the model indicates 4 million per year is needed.  So yes 40 million over ten years is required to maintain what we have, we are not delinquent 40 million in repairs.  We will be by 2024 if we do not take action.  For the 2015 budget that means we need to allocated 2.9 million more dollars to the already allocated 1.1 million.  I suggested that this should not be that difficult with a 2% increase in appraised value of property, and a city budget in the 130 million dollar range.  Add to that the City University Fund that should be used for infrastructure - not toilets in McCain Auditorium.  Add the already passed Eco Devo tax and it seems that funds for roads should be covered without cutting the SSAB budget.  But as you suggest without increasing outside agency funding either.  Reallocating 2.9 million dollars from a 130 million dollar budget means many other things cannot be increased.  I do not believe we have a stretched budget.  We have a priority issue – allocate the 130 million.  If we cannot, and the Citizens want everything now, then taxes will have to go up.  The USD is already laying the ground work for an increase at their end, so is the county.  The City Debt hit 278 million dollars in April.  Something has got to give if we do not prioritize spending, financing the debt is taking up more and more tax dollars.  Increased taxes hit the less fortunate more than the wealthy.     
3. We are not spending 200 million on recreation facilities of the elite.  The Parks and Recreation plan will use existing funds (the quality of life tax) between now and 2018 to upgrade what facilities we can.  In 2018 the voters will most likely get the chance to renew the QL tax or let it sunset.  Best use of existing funds is the goal. 
4. The CVB marketing contract needs to produce measurable results.  Sales tax receipts were up in April, but for the year we are still behind projection/budget by $23,000.  If the CVB can bring people into the regional shopping district that the City built then the sales tax generated can pay for the street maintenance.  If the marketing cannot do that, then maybe the 900K for that contract can be re-prioritized into the street fund. 

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Posted: 01 May 2014 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Wynn, what was the exact ballot wording on your “Quality of LIfe Tax”??  I thought we voted to build the new City Park Pool, renovate CiCo and Northview pools, and do some building at the Zoo.  Once those items are paid for, why wouldn’t the tax sunset?  Did the ballot referendum allow the City Commission to continue collecting those dollars and use them on whatever frivilous projects they want to appease the politically connected Fieldhouse Group??

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Posted: 01 May 2014 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I do not have ownership for that tax, I voted for it at the ballot box, but was not on the commission when it was created.  The tax was approved for 10 years and goes through 2018.  It generated enough money to pay for the pools.  The excess that is and has been generated above the requirement to pay for the pools is being used in maintenance.  That was something the commission determined a few months ago The funds can legally be used for that purpose and the tax does not have a mandatory sunset - until 2018.  I think many folks are looking at asking the voters to renew that tax.  Some on the field house group are also thinking about asking for an increase.  I think the term was “we should test the appetite of the community for increasing taxes”.  I can support the idea of a renewal, keeping the tax at the current level, but an increase?  Not so sure.

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Posted: 01 May 2014 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Not nearly all who voted for the pool tax wanted it.  The Commission, at that time, told us if we didn’t pass it as a sales tax they would move forward and pay for it with property tax.  Either vote to have most of those using the pool contribute, even if they live outside the City limits… or have the homeowners in town pay the bill to allow areas like Timber Creek to enjoy the facilities and not contribute. 

I would still like to see the ballot wording.  I understand that this commission decided to use the tax for maintenance of the pools.  Now, it sounds like they are assuming this can go on and on and on, even if the things we were told needed funded have been.  Your last Work Session seemed to indicate the Commission would favor an extension of that tax… or a new sales tax… to maintain our streets.  You admit the Fieldhouse Group has their eyes on that money after 2018.  Wouldn’t the fiscally responsible thing see the “conservative” Commissioners make every attempt to see if this tax on the retired and fixed income folks could be ended since the pools and Zoo facilities are paid for?  Nope!  This Commission is no different than previous commissions.  You get joined at the hip with the Chamber and City staff and won’t think for yourselves.
Sorry!  I know that’s harsh.  I do believe if The Mercury were to run an front page article highlighting how we paid for the pools and, yet, we’re still paying the tax… there would be public outcry.  These things get passed through Commission meetings like poop through a goose.  As long as Hilgers and the Chamber tell you you are doing it… heck with the “common citizen”. 

As you say, the School District wants more property tax money.  The County wants to increase our property tax.  The City Commission wants to increase our sales tax.  You suggest we need to “flatten” the City budget, even if it means not doing what we have been for the less fortunate.  If you would shut down this pool tax, then have a ballot referencum for street repair…...  Instead, you want to bleed us until 2018, handing that money over to the P&R group and hope you can hit us with more then.  If you want to keep the current tax and it can go for P&R maintenance… use that money to build the new P&R offices.  At least we wouldn’t have to dig in our pockets to pay for that one too!!!

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Posted: 01 May 2014 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Oh, and if you watched tonight’s news, your buddy Brownie has succeeded in getting the Kansas rating downgraded by Moody’s.  He cut taxes for his political cronies… yes, like the Kochs… and not the State is in arrears.  What does that mean?  Well, Brownie will come after the blue collar folks to make up the shortfall.  He won’t dare raise taxes on the big boys who contribute to his political campaigns.  He’s running for re-election and needs a huge sock full of money.  Brownie and cronies have ushered every moderate out of the State Legislature.  The ones who are left follow his ever order… very similar to how the Manhattan City Commission holds the Chamber sacred.
Cut taxes on the big donors… Cut education spending, then when the KS Supreme Court say funding must be restored, they add language to the bill which will see the good teachers begin an exodus from Kansas to states where they are appreciated.

This Commission needs to come to attention and look at what is coming down the pike.  Stop the spending on videos about Sasquach.  Stop the spending paying expenses for dozens of City elected officials and staff to attend a lobby session in Kansas City.  Stop this tax that was to pay for pools and did!!  Grow some!!!

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Posted: 01 May 2014 09:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Larry:  The tax for the pools is in place until 2018.  The city pool needed painted with the special epoxy type paint for around 35K before it could open this year.  The sales tax paid for that, in other words that money stream will continue to fund parks and recreation as intended.  If the tax was to sunset early, then either the pool would not get painted and other maintenance would not take place or revenue from another source would be required.  Another source would be to cut or reprioritize funds or raise new funds.  Options on the QL tax are end it or continue to use the funds for maintenance.  Both of those are valid and legal.  The continued use of the funds was the option selected by the commission. The reason is that the sunset option would have resulted in cutting services, taking funds from somebody else or raising property tax.  I believe the commission selected the lessor of the evils.  The P&R office funds are already on hand.  We have 1.8 million for that project.  Folks can argue that the P&R folks should not get a new office and should be happy with their current location.  I go back to the goals for 2014.  Building those offices to replace the 30 year old converted garage is on the list.  Working on the debt is on the list and maintenance of existing infrastructure is part of the city mission.    As for the future of the QL sales tax, you are correct that the Field House Group wants to test the waters for higher sales tax.  Some folks think that adding a little to that tax for roads is a good idea.  My thought is that we already have the money allocated for the offices, so that is done.  Second we have to maintain what we have and that money is on had with the current QL tax.  Any expansion ideas (P&R) have to come through renewal of the tax in 2018, and the voters will make that determination. They will determine if money goes to the field house, roads or anything else.  Not the Commission or the Chamber.  In short I think all of the goals can be accomplished without adding new taxes and without increasing the mil levy.  But we need to maintain all of the taxes that we currently have in place.  The amount of city spending will still go up at least 2% due to appraisal increases.  So real spending will go up, but the mil levy does not need to go up.  But that zero mill levy will only be possible if we do not increase other line items in the city budget – prioritized spending is required.  You keep mentioning that we will stop doing things for the less fortunate.  That is not the case.  The Special Alcohol Fund will continue to provide revenue from the alcohol tax – a sales tax, whatever amount is collect and the SSAB should be funded at the same level as last year.  It is pretty simple – the debt is 378 million and we are on the hook for principle and interest each year.  If the debt keeps going up and you sunset existing sales taxes and then add all the special building projects from stages to a Fieldhouse – then for sure property taxes will skyrocket. 

I fully agree on the travel expenses. I have never spent a dime of the city money for travel.  I agree that we should stop the travel funding I also agree that we should do something about the CVB.

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Posted: 02 May 2014 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The Public Works director presented a computer model generated plan for long term street maintenance.

Please tell me there actually WAS a plan beforehand, and this is just a new plan.

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Posted: 02 May 2014 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I pass that P&R garage all the time.  They’ve got air conditioning, so that’s one lie that was trotted out to get them on the golden “goals” list… from which all blessings flow apparently. A second, larger story with nice big offices for the bureaucrats could be added to those stone structures for less than 500K.

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Posted: 02 May 2014 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Randall:  Take a tour of the facility and rate it against OSHA standards for things like an adequate restroom.  It is an old garage, and yes at least it does have air conditioning. I fail to grasp why the P&R folks should be relegated to a clearly substandard work environment.  That is why one of the goals is to get that environment changed so it is equal to what others experience. 
 
Larry, the computer model used to predict road maintenance and a plan for doing that has been in place, it is not new.  The Public Works folks are just updating.  The rise in cost of asphalt - due to oil price required that the standard 1.2 million used in the past be kicked upward to maintain what we have.  If the city were to annex another area or we were to build some more roads, then the projection would need further adjustment.  Any computer model can be tweaked by putting in different criterion.  So the projected 4 million a year is a computer model projection.  PW will use that as a start point to look at the entire process and see if we can do it for less.  But the point is that we need to ensure that the streets are maintained.

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Posted: 02 May 2014 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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There’s a huge difference between “substandard” and 1.8 million dollars.  I’ve known this for some time, Wynn.  I can’t believe that, as old as you are, you had no idea.

I say again, nice new offices could be added as a second story at the current building and there’s no way they’d touch 500K, even if they lined the offices in walnut and install gold-plated commodes.

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Posted: 02 May 2014 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I would like to see your detailed plans for the construction.  If it can really be done for 500K, I am in.

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Posted: 02 May 2014 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I doubt it, Wynn.  Remaining in the same location would not give Hilgers his basketball courts… for his own entertainment.  And, that wouldn’t allow you to rid us of two lowly customer service folks.  This has become all about cutting staff and building a benefit for Hilgers… on the back of the taxpayer.

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Posted: 03 May 2014 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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How many offices are we talking about, Wynn?  I’ll need that for starters.

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