Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2016

Tonganoxie continues sales tax extension talks

Festival move alsod debated; city manager bids farewell

October 6, 2016

The Tonganoxie City Council opted to move forward with putting the extension of the 3/4-cent sales tax for 20 years to a public vote.

What the sales tax question exactly will say is still to be determined.

The Council discussed the issue at length Monday during its regular meeting a few days after a session with library officials and the Tonganoxie Planning Commission about potential needs the sales tax extension could address if the voters approved it.

The current sales tax is set to end next year. Tonganoxie voters approved a 3/4-cent sales tax for the $2.7 million capital improvement project by a two-to-one vote in April 2007 for Tonganoxie Water Park. That was a 10-year tax, so it will be expiring next year.

Interim City Manager Jamie Shockley said the City Council would need to have verbiage for its ballot question determined by the Nov. 21 meeting.

Council Member Jim Truesdell wanted more public input, so the city will have a public forum on the issue in advance of the Nov. 7 meeting. That will start at 6 p.m. that night in council chambers.

The timeline allows for the city to conduct two mail-ballot votes on the issue in case the first vote fails.

City Attorney Mike Kelly said ballot question wording could go toward certain improvements or departments, but if a dollar amount is included, the city would be bound by law to pledge that amount to that project or entity.

Lajean Keene, a former library board member, said she had reservations with vague wording.

“I would view the length of time and ambiguous language as impeding,” Keane said, saying those factors could hinder a successful vote passage.

Library officials have been working in the last year to construct plans for a new library, as the city’s population and anticipated growth have made the current library below capacity standards and needs.

There wasn’t a definite anticipated contribution number through fundraising, according to library officials, but there still are some uncertainties, including how much the city would earmark. If sales tax revenue remained flat, the city would be looking at roughly $3.6 million over 10 years or $7.2 over 20.

Library costs currently are estimated between $3 million and $3.6 million.

The Council said other projects also need to be considered, such as infrastructure. Truesdell also mentioned 14th Street construction and extension of East Street, which has been on the city’s radar for years.

Those involved with the library process have eyed Third and Main as an ideal location for a new facility. It would also require the razing of the former city maintenance shop. The land all currently is owned by the city.

Festival(s) discussion moves to Tonanoxie Days

Council Member Kara Reed discussed a proposal to have an annual festival the last weekend of August that could coincide with the anticipated growing season and popularity of the sunflowers at Grinter Farms.

The council had said in previous meetings it would like to continue to be involved in annual festival after the success of this year’s Tonganoxie Sesquicentennial, which took place during the traditional Tonganoxie Days the second weekend in June.

Council Member Curtis Oroke, though, said the city needed to still consider the summer festival, as it was a potential slap in the face to the history and organization of Tonganoxie Days, which has existed 30 years. Connie Torneden has been the organizer many years. The city has provided minimal monetary contributions the festival.

City approves interim increase

The council approved a pay increase for Interim City Manager Jamie Shockley of $1,250 until a permanent city manager is found. Outgoing City Manager Nathan McCommon left this week for another job in Washington state.

A farewell coffee took place for him Tuesday morning at City Hall.

“Thank you, Nathan, for everything you’ve done,” Mayor Jason Ward said during Monday’s meeting. “You came to Tonganoxie during a difficult time for the economy at large, but also Tonganoxie.”

Ward told McCommon he appreciated his positive attitude and wonderful welcome toward others in the community. Fellow council members echoed the sentiments.

Developer shares concerns about inspector

Greg Ward, who owns the Timber Hill Farms housing development, spoke to the City Council in open session about some challenges with getting building permits through the city’s building inspector.

He told the council he just was “here passing along information keeping you guys posted.”

Ward noted that his building superintendent was befuddled at some of the difficulties they were having as opposed to the process throughout the Kansas City area.

“It’s not very conducive to wanting people to come build in Tonganoxie and that’s not anything anybody wants,” Ward said.

Council members told Ward they appreciated him letting them know about the situation.

“Everybody wants it to be right and up to code and all of that, but it’s a little over the top,” Greg Ward said.

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