The Kansas Attorney General approved the 2016 Neighborhood Revitalization Agreement on Sept. 20, City Attorney Bob Suelter told the Great Bend City Council Monday night. Looking at the agreement, city officials may not want to take part in the program in the future.
At the Oct. 19, 2015, council meeting, it was determined that the program may or may not be renewed for 2016 and not beyond, depending on what the Kansas Legislature did with the property tax/revenue lid. Since the legislature did nothing, it does not appear to be in the city’s best interest to renew.
This Kansas Department of Commerce program is designed to give property owners the opportunity to receive a tax rebate on the additional property taxes that might be incurred as a result of constructing new buildings or making improvements to existing ones. Depending on the program, the rebates can be offered for five or 10 years.
It covers residential, commercial and industrial structures in the city. Certain areas had been in a 10-year rebate area while the remaining properties in the city were in a five-year rebate area.
However, “with the changes being made at the state, any property tax abatement or rebate should be carefully considered,” City Administrator Howard Partington said.
This issue, along with the draining of Kansas Department of Transportation funds to plug budget gaps will likely come up at the the League of Kansas Municipalities Annual Conference Sunday and Monday in Overland Park. Three council members and two staff members plan to attend.
Partington stressed the importance of an updated legislative policy statement this year with all of the financial challenges that the state faces.
This report was included in Partington’s departmental update given Monday. Other highlights were:
• On Sept. 21 and 22, the Police Department hosted a “Blue Courage” Class at the Events Center for area law enforcement agencies. This two-day course is a leadership development workshop that is being pushed nationwide, largely to help law enforcement improve relationships with their communities. The administrator for the program in Kansas is the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, and they approached our department about participating. Sgt. Gary Davis has become an official instructor in the curriculum, and the course held last week was the first in the State of Kansas.
• Participated in the annual Area Ladder Drill in Ellsworth along with Ellsworth, Russell and Hays fire departments.
• An all-department live burn training was held in which we utilized the burn building.
• In an effort to review how the city will respond after a disaster, the department participated in a meeting with all the city’s department heads.
• Repaired asphalt parking lot on the east side of the courthouse.
• Upgraded 18 sign posts along 24th Street from Washington to Harrison.
• Poured a new concrete dog kennel pad for the Police Department.
• James Giles went to Garden City and picked up the Peace Keeper vehicle for the Police Department.
• Sprayed for mosquitoes Sept. 22 and 29.
• Attended National Incident Management System disaster training put on by the Fire Department.
• Started flushing fire hydrants.
• USDA conducted its annual Routine Inspection of our Zoo. They found no non-compliant items during their inspection. This is the second year that we have received a very good inspection. Great work Sara and the rest of the zoo staff.
• The 2016 Fly Kansas Air Tour was held on Sept. 29 at the Great Bend Airport.
• Work began on the Events Center improvements.
• The F&E Collectors Auto Auction is Saturday at Expo 1 and 2 Buildings. Admission is $5, doors open at 8 a.m. and Automobilia auction starts at 10 a.m.
• Community Coordinator Christina Hayes took 46 Barton Community College students on a downtown retail tour Monday, Sept. 26, to expose and connect the business students with the shops and community in general.
• A bus tour was in town last Thursday to view the B-29 Memorial. Both the Barton County Historical Society and Convention and Visitors Bureau played a part in welcoming the travelers. The CVB is connecting will all travel agencies to help bring more bus tours to Great Bend. This group came on its own, but the city is requesting many more.
• CVB Director Emily Goad has been connecting with Garden City, Arkansas City, Winfield, Greensburg, Dodge City, Hays and Topeka in hopes to gain additional CVB insights but also share Great Bend with these communities.
• Steel for the Events Center was dropped off on Friday, construction began this week on the new entrance to the Events Center.
• We continue to work with projects relating to the new transload facility.