Intergovernmental group looks at sales tax issue

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photos by Cathy Dawes

Manhattan Parks and Recreation Dir. Eddie Eastes addressing intergovernmental group

Manhattan Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers assisted with a presentation to intergovernmental leaders Monday regarding the November ballot issue for a sales tax continuation that would be used to fund Parks and Recreation facilities. Parks and Rec. Director Eddie Eastes told the group the ballot question is a big question as it includes several aspects of what would be done, but emphasized it would be a continuation of an existing sales tax so wouldn’t cost any more. Hilgers tells KMAN city officials are hoping to get the “big picture” of the question out to members of the public of what city officials heard from studies and surveys in trying to identify community needs for indoor and outdoor trail enhancements.

A few in the intergovernmental group asked questions, including City Commissioner Karen McCulloh, who suggested more hard numbers on the cost for upkeep and maintenance to open such facilities. Hilgers indicates it’s not typical for new facilities to “break even.” McCulloh stressed while she’s in favor of the proposal, she’s hearing such questions from the public.

Also at the meeting, some good news for the Riley County Police workers compensation self-insurance certificate–but it took a special trip to Topeka to get it done..

RCPD Director Brad Schoen made that announcement after approaching many of the groups this past week to get a resolution and funding agreement approved for presentation to state officials. If the certificate had not gone through it would have been pricey with an additional $250,000 to $375,000 needed.

Schoen admitted it was a difficult process this time around, describing it as “a unique experience,” but he hopes that laying out some ground rules this year will hopefully help out next year.

And several months ago KMAN warned of concerns about efforts to change healthcare impacting school districts–  USD 383 School Board member Leah Fliter brought the matter up again Monday during the intergovernmental meeting. This time the bill being considered is the Graham-Cassidy healthcare reform proposal, which would restructure the Medicaid entitlement program currently used by Kansas schools to help pay for mandatory services for special education students.

In fact Fliter adds that would amount to almost $800,000 currently received in medicaid reimbursements, or a mill and a half of tax for the local school district. State officials are also concerned, with a potential loss of up to 46 million dollars in Medicaid reimbursements state-wide. Fliter told the intergovernmental group a letter from the Kansas Association of School Boards went out this past week to Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts of Kansas.

Also announced Monday was an October 28th prescription drug take back day planned in Riley County–that’s according to Manhattan City Commissioner Karen McCulloh, who has helped to organize the effort after attending a conference in Washington recently regarding the opioid epidemic. Specific times and a location have not yet been determined but KMAN will update closer to the late October event.

The intergovernmental group Monday included representatives from Riley County, the city of Manhattan, USD 383, K-State, Fort Riley, and the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Cathy Dawes

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