City looks to increase revenue from land
Tonganoxie City Council member Velda Roberts believes she owes it to local residents to ensure the city gets a good return on its investments -- and that includes farmland.
Since April 2001, the city has rented 65 acres to Elder and Son LLC, Linwood. The city purchased the land, which is west of Linwood, along the Kansas River, in hopes of drilling water wells there. So far, no wells have been sunk on the land, and the Elder family has planted about 50 tillable acres in corn.
Last year, the Elders paid the city $1,280, which covered the city's costs on the property.
When the lease agreement came up at Monday night's city council meeting, Roberts spoke up.
"I don't know that there is a requirement that we rent this farm ground on a break-even basis," she said.
"No, there is not," said city attorney Mike Crow.
Roberts said she had checked with a farm group that told her the average payment for rent of non-irrigated land in northeast Kansas was nearly $60 an acre. The Elders are paying between $19.70 and $25.60 an acre, depending on whether the non-tillable land is figured in.
"The worst he could say is, 'no,'" Roberts said. "It's not an attempt to get him off the property. It's an attempt to get a reasonable return on an asset held by the city."
The council unanimously decided to direct City Administrator Shane Krull to try to negotiate with the Elder family for a higher payment to the city.