In February 1999 the downtown businesses were approached by council members with a proposal to improve the sidewalks, curbs and general appearance of downtown Tonganoxie. The cost to the business owners would be approximately $300,000 to be reduced by a grant the city manager was applying for. That grant would reduce the cost by 48 percent. Each owner would pay according to lineal frontage. Most of us (business owners) expected to pay fair portion of approximately $150,000. We were presented these figures and told it may be paid over a 20-year period with interest.
In letters most of us received the first week of August notice of payment due in excess of $500,000 and an invitation to attend the council meeting of Aug. 14 to give written or oral objections to these charges.
We listened to the suggestion by the city manager to change the 20-year pay-off time to 10 years in order to reduce interest charges. The council agreed this change would save the city a substantial amount of finance charges. So agreed we now have 10 years to pay.
Several businessmen attended this meeting with opinions to express. One business owner had not received notice of the improvements but did receive the bill. Needless to say, she was quite surprised. Because of the sidewalk improvements one business owner's customers have extreme difficulty entering the shop. This business owner was trying to express her concerns and was told to "shut up."
Apparently we were invited to witness how the counsel conducts a meeting. We could speak as long as we didn't expect an answer or satisfaction.
Business owners expected to pay 52 percent of $300,000 not 100 percent of $300,000. We expected an improved downtown district with easier access to our businesses. Now our benefit district is paying increased taxes three times. Our businesses will pay for city street and sidewalks increased taxes because the value of our stores have increased (?) and then as citizens we will pay again.
Let's see, we were mislead at the amount to be charged to us, how long we had to pay for the beatification project, what the project consisted of and that our opinion actually mattered.
Isn't city government for the city? Guess we were misled again!
Roger Shilling, Tonganoxie
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