The majority of community survey responders supported an additional 0.3% sales tax that officials intend to use to pay for several major projects.
The Manhattan City Commission on Tuesday viewed results from a community survey conducted in March and April by Josephine Schafer, director of the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska in Omaha and former assistant professor at Kansas State University.
Officials sent the survey to 6,618 Manhattan residents with 1,341 completed surveys for a 22% response rate. Consultants said that response rate was statistically significant and reliable within a 3 percentage point margin of error.
Of those surveyed, 55.7% of individuals supported or strongly supported the sales tax increase.
City administrators said the increase would help pay for projects including airport runway reconstruction, Aggieville redevelopments, the city’s contribution to North Campus Corridor, the Joint Maintenance Facility, the Douglass Park recreation center and raising the levee.
When asked about enhancing storm drainage across the city in this year’s survey, 58.3% of respondents strongly supported the idea.
The city issued similar surveys to residents in 2015 and 2017. This year’s response rate is lower than 2017 (24.2% with 604 responses) and 2015 (22.8% with 457 responses).
However, the city sent more surveys this year after moving to an online survey for the first time. For the majority of residents, the city sent the survey link to email addresses of utility billing customers, but also sent 1,000 postcards with information about the online survey.
In addition, the commission approved an agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city towards the Manhattan Levee Flood Risk Management Project, which aims to provide an improved levee design to combat flooding.
Officials previously said the improvement would raise the height of the levee between 1.5 feet and 3.3 feet.
A study conducted in 2004 found the levee was affected by the flood during 1993, concluding it does not offer “the level of protection originally intended,” according to a city commission memo.
Also according to a city commission memo, the project’s estimated cost is about $30.17 million with funding opportunities coming from the potential three-tenths of a cent sales tax initiative that voters will consider in November or by increasing property taxes or fees.
The Corps will pay 65%, and the city will pay 35%.
Construction is expected from February 2021 to January 2023, according to the memo.
Also during the meeting, commissioners approved an agreement with SMH Consultants in an amount not to exceed $188,810.50 towards the design of the Kirkwood Drive extension.
The extension connects Marlatt Avenue to Walters Drive, also according to the memo. Additionally, the extension proposal includes a “large bridge crossing,” according to the memo.
More traffic is expected in the area with hopes of completing the project around the same time as Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School’s new recreation facility expansion.