City makes airport parking fees official, discusses Housing Advisory Board priorities

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A new pay machine was recently installed at the airport parking lot. The airport plans to charge patrons to park Feb. 1, with a maximum daily rate of $2.50. (Photo by Brandon Peoples/KMAN)

Airport-parking fees made official

The Manhattan City Commission officially approved new Manhattan Regional Airport parking fees during its meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Wynn Butler says the fees will help make it so that Manhattan tax payers aren’t completely responsible for funding airport improvements.
“While we call it the Manhattan Regional Airport, the funding for that thing has always been city,” Butler said. “That is the primary reason why the parking needed to have a user fee, so that it’s not coming off the property-tax bill.”
The fees will take effect on Feb. 1, 2021, at a maximum daily rate of $2.50 and then increase to a maximum of $5 per day in January 2022.
“Initially we thought about (starting at) $5 and we came down to $2.50 because of the pandemic – to still encourage people to use the airport and park there,” Commissioner Usha Reddi said.
In addition to funding future improvements, the fees will also help pay off debt services from the recent parking lot upgrades, which are now complete.
Housing Advisory Board
The Manhattan City Commission discussed Tuesday how the community should be represented on the proposed Housing Advisory Board.
Reddi says that while she mostly supports the city staff’s recommendations, she wants to make sure a variety of groups are represented.
“We’re not just looking at young individuals, we’re looking at also seniors who need a different type of housing or we’re talking about people with different types of abilities that might need a different type of housing,” Reddi said. “If they don’t find it in Manhattan, they’re going to find it somewhere else. We want to make sure we have that here in Manhattan and right now, we’re not meeting that need.”
Other commissioners, along with Jason Smith, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce president, want to see the private sector well-represented.
The commission also looked at which housing issues, such as workforce housing and housing security, should be prioritized by the board.
Mayor Wynn Butler says that since part of the recently passed half-cent sales tax is allocated for workforce-housing improvements, that is where the board should focus its efforts.
“Other projects that they may want to recommend to the commission, fine,” Butler said. “But the funding source is for workforce housing only. We can estimate about $600,000 a year for that.”
While the board will begin working in the near future, funding from the half-cent sales tax won’t become available until 2023.
Strategic Plan Community Project Committee
The Manhattan City Commission approved the formation of a Strategic Plan Community Project Committee during its meeting Tuesday.
While commissioner Mark Hatesohl voted in favor of the committee, he expressed concern that its list of members doesn’t represent certain groups.
“Hardly anybody here looks like they own their own business,” Hatesohl said while referring to the list of people recommended to be on the committee. “There’s a few people that work at businesses but no business owners, no significant rental-property owners – people that have a vested interest in property taxes and things going forward.”
Commissioner Aaron Estabrook explained that members were chosen based on community representation and whether they lived within Manhattan city limits. However, he says the committee is not as representative as he would like it to be.
“I think there was good representation from new voices that are underrepresented in different ways, which was great, but it didn’t match up with our demographics as a community,” Estabrook said. “I think the committee talked about how, in part, renters were well underrepresented in the committee.”
Out of 56 applicants, 35 were recommended to the city for committee membership.
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