Archive for Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Council again denies sewer fee waiver request for Sunset Motel

April 5, 2011

The Tonganoxie City Council reconsidered March 28, with no change in its decision, a possible incentive denied two weeks earlier to the new owners of the city’s only motel.

However, city council members and city staff encouraged the owners of the Sunset Motel to apply for a property tax abatement through the city’s revitalization plan, which they said would eventually save the owners twice the amount of the $2,750 fee waiver requested.

On March 14 during the open comment period at the start of the council meeting, Todd Herrington asked the city to waive the sewer hookup fee for an old house on the property with a failed septic system. After discussion, the council denied the request on a 3-2 vote.

At the March 28 meeting, Councilman Bill Peak said he requested Mayor Jason Ward put the incentive discussion back on the agenda after talking with a number of residents. He voted against the measure because of concerns that waiving the fee would set a precedent that would open the door to more requests.

But Peak said he didn’t come to that decision easily and would have preferred more background on incentives the city makes available and the benefits of the motel project. He suggested that any such request made in the future during open session, and thus not on the agenda, be tabled until city staff could provide background information so the council could make an informed decision.

With that, Herrington’s partner John Coleman again requested the sewer hookup fee be waived. The new owners hauled four dumpsters of trash from the site, have renovated four rooms in the motel that were used for a meth lab, planned to renovate the remaining 12 and would remodel the house on the property as a suite for weddings, reunions and other events, he said.

“We’re trying to get a good business for the city,” he said. “If the fee was waived, we could spend it on the property, which would increase taxes for the city.”

However, council members remained reluctant to waive the fee that funds the sewer system’s capital account, and there was no new motion to grant the waiver.

However, the two partners were encouraged to apply for rebates of as much 95 percent of the property taxes paid for the increased value of the property from their recent and future improvements. The rebate is available through the city’s revitalization program. Staff said they would provide the needed paperwork to the owners when they applied for building permits.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a five-year contract with IKON for an annual payment of $7,908 to provide copiers and service for City Hall, the police and fire stations. Councilman Bill Peak voted against the contract. Assistant City Manager Kathy Bard estimated the city would save about $155 a month from the IKON contract.

• Approved a $3,285 contract with P-Tn to provide photos of recovered property along the new BPU waterline.

• Set a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. April 19 to interview candidates for the city supervisor position.

• Approved acting city supervisor Kent Heskett’s request to replace curb and guttering at Delaware and Pleasant drives.

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