Sales tax revenue in Pottawatomie County was up in 2020, despite the economic downturn associated with the pandemic.
Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Jack Allston highlighted the figures from the corporation’s annual report.
“And mostly due to the fact that some of the big boxes are in Pottawatomie County, grew from $5.3 million to $5.7 million in sales tax revenue, which is again really good for the county,” he said.
Property tax revenue also increased $1.6 million and has increased by $3 million between 2018 and 2020. But perhaps most surprising was the real estate market. In Pottawatomie County realtors sold 211 homes in 2020, compared to 195 the year before. In Riley County, the trend was even higher at 559 homes sold compared to 479 the year before.
“It was amazing talking to realtors who said they haven’t seen any hiccups at all except in March and April (2020),” he said.
Median home sales were around $250,000 in Pottawatomie County in 2020.
With the stable and growing housing market, Allston says he’s unsure how and when the debate in the Green Valley area, over incorporation versus annexation, will ultimately be resolved.
“There might be the possibility of districts. The annexation issue is up to the City of Manhattan as much as it is to the residents of Green Valley,” he said.
Allston says it is possible Manhattan could annex some agricultural ground like areas around Heritage Square because of incentives the city could afford. He also spoke about improving infrastructure to accommodate growth, most notably along Hwy 24.
“They’ve gone ahead with the frontage road project and the Circle C project. So what you see going on is the Circle C and then the frontage road will be next year. But that’s part of growth,” he said.
Down the road on the eastern side of the county is another new development and the county anticipates more of an economic and population boom as a result.
The Society of St. Pius X is in the midst of constructing a $30 million, 12-story, 1,500 capacity structure, called the ‘Immaculata’ in St. Marys. The structure is being funded from donations from the church’s followers across the world and has been a vision of the church for decades to have a structure in the Great Plains.
Over 4,000 parishioners have moved to the region in the past two decades. Allston says ECODEVO has entered into an economic impact analysis study with the Topeka Partnership.
“The construction impact is $64 million. Part of that is because about 30 percent of the contractors are Manhattan-based, 25 percent are St. Marys based and a few are from Wamego and then the bulk are from Topeka and elsewhere,” he said.
Allston says because of the entrepreneurial spirit of the parishioners, job growth in the region will likely come as they relocate many of their own businesses to St. Marys and neighboring communities like Wamego.
“That’s what happened in the 1980s and 1990s, is when they came here, they brought their ideas and their businesses here. So I think you’ll see a lot of that,” he said.
Construction on the ‘Immaculata’ is projected to be finished in late 2022.