The Unified Government Commission approved up to $4 million in industrial revenue bonds for renovations at Hilton Garden Inn.
In a short meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13, the UG Commission voted 8-0 for approval of the IRBs. The project will use sales taxes from the hotel, at 520 Minnesota Ave., to pay for the bonds.
The issue passed the Economic Development and Finance Committee earlier on a 5-1 vote. UG Commissioner Tom Burroughs, who chaired the committee, said one commissioner at that time opposed it over a concern about lost tax revenue and the potential for liability.
During the IRB process, the ownership of the hotel will pass to the UG on a temporary basis, according to UG officials. At the UG committee meeting, a UG attorney explained it is a normal process whenever IRBs are issued.
Piper fire station
Also approved Thursday night was a $1 million increase in the budget for the Piper fire station at Hutton and Leavenworth roads.
The cost of the fire station increased to about $5 million because materials expenses have risen, and also because decontamination equipment such as special lockers have been added to the project in an attempt to prevent firefighters from being exposed to cancer-causing agents, according to UG officials at an earlier committee meeting.
Legends West Lawn agreement, UG’s cash and investment policy and police awards
In other action, the UG Commission approved an amendment to the Legends West Lawn Development agreement and a revision to the UG’s cash and investment policy. The amendment to the Legends project will give the shopping center additional time, until March 31, to complete its projects. In addition, police awards were presented for outstanding work by police officers.
UG’s state and federal legislative priorities
State and federal legislative priorities for the UG were adopted Thursday by the commission. A policy on The Woodlands was delayed until later, after a special session can be held on it, as Mayor David Alvey proposed a change to the original policy at an earlier discussion. This could signal a change in the UG’s stance on The Woodlands, if there are enough commission votes.
The top priority that was approved on the list Thursday was property appraisal reform. The UG favors changes to the tax appeals process where county governments are able to appeal property tax decision to district court in the same manner as the taxpayer is allowed, according to the UG position statement. The UG advocates for a change in state law where fair market value does not include a hypothetical lease fee.
The UG also supports the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas, as the burden is increased on local governments to fund health care for the poor without this expansion.
Also, the UG supports a workable STAR bond policy at the state level with maximum flexibility and without unnecessary restrictions, according to the priority statement.
Snow removal program
During a presentation on the UG’s snow removal program, UG staff said that a recent heavy storm here of 3 to 6 inches Nov. 25, in which a snow emergency was declared, cost the UG $250,000. A small storm before that cost the UG about $50,000.
Kansas City, Kansas, has 2,400 lane miles of streets to treat or clear, larger than any other city in the metropolitan area except Kansas City, Missouri, according to UG officials. The UG averaged over 10,000 tons of material a year in the past five years, and had 11 events last year, with two already this year, officials said.
“Safety is our single biggest priority for the public and for our employees out there,” Jeff Fisher, UG director of public works, said.
Fisher said the “hot” and “secondary” routes are targeted to be completed 12 hours after snow stops falling, and the neighborhood routes are usually cleared within 24 to 48 hours after the snow stops. Cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets are the last to be cleared.
Most streets in Kansas City, Kansas, are neighborhood routes. To see a map of hot, secondary and neighborhood routes, visit http://unifiedgov.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=be2834ce4c724e88ad0aecc790c222c4.
Public works staff said they plan to communicate more with the public in the future about snow removal.
CVB budget adopted
The Kansas City, Kansas, Convention and Visitors’ Bureau 2019 budget was adopted at the 7 p.m. meeting, after a presentation about the CVB and its marketing plans at the 5 p.m. meeting.
The CVB is estimated to receive about $1.08 million in income for 2019, according to budget documents presented to the UG, with most of the funding coming from the Kansas City, Kansas, transient guest tax.
The largest planned CVB marketing expenditure for 2019 is $246,856 for electronic, digital and social marketing, according to the budget. Personnel expenses for the CVB are estimated to be $430,198.
The 2019 budget shows that expenditures will be $100,000 more than income for 2019.
Bridgette Jobe, CVB executive director, explained that the CVB received an additional $290,000 in 2017 as part of its contract with the UG, when the Village West STAR bonds were paid off. A clause in the UG contract went into effect allowing additional dollars to the CVB from the additional income.
The CVB chose to hold onto most of the additional dollars until it went through a strategic planning process and made plans for the future, she said. Jobe said there were plans for multiple new projects, a lot of new initiatives, but no additional staff. There also were some increases in administrative costs, such as rent, she added. The decision was made by the CVB to use an additional $100,000 from the 2017 funds for the 2019 budget.
During the 5 p.m. meeting, Jobe discussed the CVB’s three-year strategic plan. She also discussed her efforts to find out what conventions would like to see added in order to bring their events here. Some of those details were a hotel connected to a convention center at Village West, as conventions want to be under one roof; and better transportation, coordination, signage and restaurants on the east side of Kansas City, Kansas.
For 2019, she said the CVB will increase funding for youth and amateur sports marketing, establishing new programs to improve the visitor experience; develop a CVB volunteer program; increase the emphasis on social media; increase funding spent on public relations; continue to grow the American Royal partnership; and invest in training for current staff.
Land Bank items approved
Land Bank items that were approved included 2109 S. 26th St., new construction; 3110 N. 47th St., yard extension; 1520 Pacific Ave., yard extension; and 1600 N. 59th St., yard extension.
For more details, visit a video of the 7 p.m. meeting at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WHYz1XjEys.
Jobe’s presentation was at the 5 p.m. meeting, with a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEUZSNiimWA.