Budget Problems, Downtown Parking Issues

joint 4-17 2Manhattan Ogden USD 383 School Board members joined Manhattan City Commissioners, Riley County Commissioners and Pottawatomie County Commissioners during their joint meeting on Thursday, to share details about their budget planning for the upcoming school year.

School board member, Leah Fliter presented a majority of the information regarding the school board’s budget structure and timeline.  She mentioned the state is cutting more and more funding for public schools, and said “I think we will be around $44,000 in the hole.”

“The best case scenario for us regarding the budget, might be to take the local option budget to the legal maximum of 30% of our general fund”, Fliter commented.  There is still pending legislation that could impact this, and she said the board is basically waiting to hear what decisions are made before they clear up some of the uncertainties.

Manhattan Mayor, Wynn Butler proposed the idea of looking into collaborating as far as facilities and buildings in order to save some money within the school district.  School board member, Marcia Rozell commented on this idea by saying buildings are being used efficiently already, even during the summer.

Riley County Commissioner, Dave Lewis said the county understands that the state isn’t helping much, and explained the similar situation the county is facing with the possibility of cutting the mortgage registration fee.

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Riley County Commission Chair, Robert Boyd presented the second item involving downtown parking.  With the additional businesses and living spaces coming to the downtown area, additional parking will be needed.  Boyd spoke more to the needs of the courthouse though, and surrounding areas.  He also asked that the county commission be involved in the conversations that are currently taking place regarding parking.

Several aspects of parking were brought up, as well as several solutions.  Deputy City Manager, Jason Hilgers had prepared several maps and statistics regarding parking owned by the city.  He mentioned there are currently around 3,600 parking stalls in the downtown area.

Looking into the future, Mayor Butler mentioned the 81 spots located near courthouse plaza, that is usually utilized for jurors, could be formed into a parking garage.  He also brought up the idea of some type of parking shuttle, possibly run by aTa bus.

School board member, Darell Edie said shuttles aren’t always utilized.  He said many times the people who use them are foreign students or from larger cities.  With all of the rural students attending Kansas State University, he said most people want to park in front of the stores they plan to go into, just like they have been accustomed to in their hometowns.

Not only were there discussions about solutions, but they also discussed how to pay for these potential parking additions.

City Commissioner, Usha Reddi and Executive Director of Downtown Manhattan, Gina Scroggs did not agree with the idea of parking meters.  They both shared similar reasons-including the fact that the downtown area is meant to appeal to people wanting to walk around and spend hours strolling throughout the streets.  If there is a parking meter, it will pressure them into shopping quickly and leaving the area.

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