Council approves advisory board
Panel would work to attract business
In an effort to spark additional economic development in Tonganoxie, city council members on Monday established a new advisory board.
The panel will be charged with promoting the city as a site for commercial and industrial businesses. In addition, it will help retain existing firms in the city.
City officials said the board would augment the countywide economic development efforts of the Leavenworth Area Devel-opment and the Leavenworth County Port Authority.
"I think those are a positive relationships, ones we should continue," City Administrator Shane Krull said.
The board will be comprised of five to nine members, including Mayor John Franiuk, and will report back to the council.
The city officials' hope is that an expanded business community would translate into a broader tax base, which would mean less tax pressure on homeowners. In addition, new business could mean more jobs in Tonganoxie.
Franiuk, who hopes to appoint members to the panel within the next month or so, said he's eager for the group to begin work.
"I'd like to see us possibly look to doing some of the same things the port authority has been doing, right here in the city of Tonganoxie," he said. "I'm not looking for us to build a bunch of spec buildings tomorrow."
But he said that's a possibility for the future.
"I think it's a matter of marketing, and I think the more people you have putting out the story over and over and over, the better your chances for success," the mayor said.
Chris Donnelly, vice president of Leavenworth Area Development, agreed.
"I think it's a wonderful idea," said Donnelly, who is executive vice president at First State Bank and Trust of Tonganoxie.
"I think it brings a lot of the things going on countywide to a smaller scale, where we can really focus on the local stuff, and I think that's a good idea. It allows for us all to go the same direction. I think it's a super, super step."
No funding mechanism has been approved to handle any costs associated with development. But Franiuk said possibilities exist.
"We're going to have to figure out how to get some money into the program to make it happen," he said.
One possibility would be issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds, which could finance construction of a spec building, he said.
"I think there are ways to pay for this that you can get pretty affordable interest rates on," he said.
But while the state is in the midst of a budget crunch, the city must be careful with its finances.
"We'll have to be very mindful of the store here and watch the money really close," he said.