Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tonganoxie sales tax mail-in ballot question coming this winter

New developments with potential library locale, interlocal agreement and festivals

November 23, 2016

Tonganoxie will move ahead with a mail-in ballot for replacement of the 3/4-cent sales tax for Tonganoxie Water Park. The Council approved the final measure, 5-0, Monday, with ballots expected to be sent out in February.

If approved, the tax would start Oct. 1, 2017, and end Sept. 30, 2037. The ballot question earmarks the tax going toward construction of new capital improvements, maintaining new and current infrastructure, funding debt-issued for capital improvements and the construction of a new or expanded library. The tax would be in addition to a 1 percent citywide retailers’ sales tax already levied within the city.

Library officials have urged council members to allow construction of a new library at Third and Main streets on city property, but another possible scenario recently came to light — a portion of the former Tonganoxie Elementary School property.

Kay Soetaert, who was at Monday’s meeting, said she is part of a group that wants to purchase the former TES campus at Fourth and Shawnee streets. Ben Robbins, Steve Miller, Chris Gratton and Drew Johnson are in the group with Soetaert. Tonganoxie USD 464 Board members agreed to sell the school for about $76,000 in a closed bid process earlier this year to Pat Studer of Kansas City.

“We want to beautify and benefit Tonganoxie,” Soetaert said. “That’s our goal.”

Soetaert said the group would like to save some of the existing building, specifically the gymnasiums. A library possibly would be constructed on the southwest corner of the block with ample parking being built in on the block also. But Library Board president Megan Garren stressed, as did Soetaert, that any plans for the block are preliminary. It’s still early in the process for the group working to obtain the property. Another structure, such as a retirement community, have been discussed by the group for elsewhere on the property, but again, Soetaert said nothing was set in stone and the group was open to other possibilities.

The school district actually was in talks with a company that was going to convert much of the building into retirement housing, but the group did not get a tax credit it had hoped for the property and rescinded its interest.

Interlocal agreement approved

The council approved an interlocal agreement with the county and the port authority to sign over the industrial park south of Tonganoxie.

In return for the agreement, the county is pledging $5 million for infrastructure at the park. Officials finalized the agreement this past week, with various boards and councils approving the already or in the coming days.

The Leavenworth County Port Authority takes over the title for the property, which will continue to be subject to Tonganoxie zoning regulations and development review process.

The Port Authority will be responsible for infrastructure, with the city responsible for $30,000 in water and sewer lines to a soon-to-be developed site. The agreement also states the city is the only jurisdiction that can approve property tax abatement on the property. County Commissioner Dennis Bixby praised the city for working to make the interlocal agreement a reality. He also passed along praise from County Clerk Janet Klasinski to Interim City Manager Jamie Shockley for her work during discussions.

Council Member Chris Donnelly commended all involved, and especially Bill New, who is working on behalf of the Port Authority, for coming together for a common goal.

“It take everyone pulling together, and I appreciate that,” New said about Donnelly’s comments.

Donnelly said the agreement was a “big deal” for Leavenworth County and Ward noted that it would serve Tonganoxie for years to come.

More business activity

Shockley reported that work on the Army Reserve Center that is to be built south of Tonganoxie is expected to start next month.

She also said a steel business was going into the Urban Hess Business Center. And, the city will be considering rezoning of property in front of a proposed luxury RV resort east of Tonganoxie from rural residential to commercial. The proposed resort will be will be considered at a later date and will require a special use permit.

Tonganoxie looking at two festivals

Discussion continued of when the city would have a main festival moving forward.

Officials now are eyeing two festivals: a continued Tonganoxie Days in its regular spot in June and a Tonganoxie Sunflower Festival in August.

Council member Curtis Oroke said he would lead organizing Tonganoxie Days from the city’s standpoint and would get longtime organizer Connie Torneden’s input in advance of the next council meeting.

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