HOISINGTON — Giving Tuesday is only weeks away, and Jonathan Mitchell, Hoisington’s city manager took time recently to look over the number of organizations vying for charitable donations this holiday season. Among the list of community organizations, he saw a number of endowments benefiting neighboring cities, which he pointed out to council members at the city council meeting Monday night.
Mitchell visited with the Golden Belt Community Foundation and learned that an endowment can be started with a minimum of $5,000. That amount can be built over time through bequests or donations, and by the city itself with end of year transfers, or through accumulated interest. The key, he said, is never to touch the principal. The earnings can be spent each year, or left alone to grow the fund.
Gary Shook asked how the city would determine what it could be used for. Mitchell suggested a “Quality of Life” endowment would allow for a broad range of uses, allowing the city to designate funds for projects like banners and flags, beautification, and other projects that benefit the citizens of Hoisington. Funds could also be designated to assist organizations the city determines would benefit the community, much as the transient guest tax funds are currently used. The difference is, the transient guest tax fund is tied to annual revenue, and an endowment allows the public to participate directly, and allows the city to accept matches during Giving Tuesday, for example. The council was in support of further discussion. Mitchell was uncertain what amount would be available for the initial contribution.
Preparing for pool
In light of a successful ballot initiative last week, Mitchell asked council members for direction on what projects they want to make a priority in 2021 when the half-cent sales tax is available for expanded use. Chris Smith and Jim Morris said constituents had told them they’d like to see something done about the city pool.
The tax currently generates between $150,000 and $160,000 revenue annually, Mitchell said. Knowing that, it’s not too late to begin the process of establishing a committee of committed citizens and a consultant to help guide a study to determine what options to consider if a new pool is ultimately decided on.
Determining where to build a new pool was the biggest question on council members’ minds. Should it be built in the same site, which would require the pool to be unavailable for one year, or should it be built at a different location, which would allow for the pool to be open during the building of a new one. And then there are the questions of what needs to be in the swimming pool and what can the city afford.
In the meantime, the existing pool should be fixed and maintained so it’s ready for the next season. The soonest work on a new pool could start would be 2021.
“Perhaps we should reach out to area communities to determine what has worked for them,” Mitchell suggested. Council members agreed.
Meeting at a glance
Here’s a quick look at what happened at the Hoisington City Council meeting Monday night:
• Approved the consent agenda which consisted of the minutes from the October 28, 2019 council meeting and approval of the revised fee resolution. The revised fee schedule includes the 20 percent increase in wastewater rates along with the modification for the base cost of power.
• Discussed wages for 2020. The City adopted a new wage scale in 2019 and prior to completing reviews and adjusting wages of staff in early 2020, the city manager thought it would be appropriate to discuss proposed wage modifications. The council agreed employees should receive a one percent cost of living adjustment, and up to an additional two percent performance based raise.
• Discussed sales tax revenues. Passage of the 2019 ballot initiative broadening the permissible uses of the City’s local sales tax resulted in a discussion of the desire to gather information towards a pool initiative.
• Discussed creation of a sustainable Quality of Life Endowment to benefit our community in perpetuity. It was determined an endowment would provide a sustainable source of funding for the community moving forward.
• Received the city manager’s update. It included a brief update on the wastewater lagoon project, the shooting range fencing, time clocks, park signage, the softening plant repairs, the efforts of EMS Director has been working hard to roll out the new compensation policies and is implementing its recruitment program to attract more volunteers; progress with the city’s website.