Commission reviews TIF documents

By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer


 Before approving two small Tax Increment Financing projects Wednesday night, the Concordia City Commission reviewed the original TIF documents approved in 2000.
Concordia City Manager Larry Uri told Commissioners that in May 2000, when the city proposed a TIF district be formed, the city was required by law to prepare a comprehensive plan for the district. That plan was presented to both the USD 333 school board and the board of county commissioners, the city's partners in the TIF district.
As required by law to form the district, the city commission at the time made a finding that the district was a blighted area, Uri said. To assist the commission in making that determination, city staff prepared a comprehensive report outlining areas that needed improvement.
"At the time these documents were prepared, I was the city attorney," Uri said. "I wrote the TIF comprehensive plan. I was the primary drafter of the first 10 pages of the report to the governing body.
"We have a debate from time to time about what was intended (with the TIF district). That's why you put things in writing. It's been 14 years and memories fade or alter."
The initial development plan for the TIF district was to construct the necessary infrastructure for the Walmart Supercenter. Uri said part of the original plan was to use some of the revenue generated in the south portion of the district to make improvements in the downtown area. Uri quoted a section of the comprehensive plan:
"Other projects presently planned for the district include substantial improvements and repairs to sewer and water lines that serve the corridor and the downtown area.
". . . Plans also include the construction, repair or improvement of streets, sewer lines, water lines, lighting, sidewalks, utility service connections, and other infrastructure to support the private development of commercial, service and entertainment businesses in the district."
Uri said the TIF documents he quoted were provided to both the school board and county commission.
"At that point of the proceedings in May 2000, either the county commission or school board could have effectively vetoed the TIF district saying no, we don't want to participate," Uri said.
 Uri said he did not want to start a new debate over TIF with the school board or county commission. Both have publicly opposed several of Concordia's TIF projects, mainly using the money to replace sidewalks in the downtown area. In laying out the original plans of TIF, Uri said it was clear that the city had ample authority to do such projects, such as the curb and gutter and drainage project along 5th and Broadway, which the commission reviewed during the study session.
Commissioner Lyle Pounds suggested a meeting with the two entities to discuss the original TIF documents so they would be aware of what had been intended with the district in 2000.
The Commission passed a resolution for a $4,840 TIF project at 701 Lincoln for LeDuc Memorial Design. Troy LeDuc plans to move his monument business to that location, and the TIF money will be used for site clearance and seeding.
A second TIF resolution was passed for Sonic Drive-In at 1302 Lincoln Street. For $3,966, the city will be replacing the concrete of Sonic's north entrance.
A hiking trail grant application to the Kansas Department of Transportation was also approved. Uri said the $582,129 Transportation Enhancement Grant, if received, will pay for the construction of a hiking trail and three footbridges in the south flood control area.
The request is half as much as was requested when the city applied for the grant last year. Uri said he narrowed the grant request to the parts of the park plan that relate directory to the trails and bridges, leaving out the shelter houses, restroom and parking lot. He said he thought there were other grant opportunities for those aspects of the park area.
If the city receives the grant, it will cover up to 80 percent of the project cost. Uri said he suggested that the city's 20-percent match come from TIF funds.
In other business, the commission approved the demolition of a condemned structure at 123 West 11th. The only bid is from Snavely Excavating and is for $10,310. Building Inspector Bruno Rehbein said the demo costs will be sent to the property owner as a bill, and he will have 30 days to pay it before it is assessed to his taxes.
The commission also accepted a structure at 325 West 5th into the city's demolition program. For $5,200, Snell Contracting will demolish the house. Rehbein said the owner, Dianna Bohling, plans to build a garage in its place.
At the recommendation of the planning commission, the city commission approved vacating a portion of the alley between Church and Niagra streets. Rehbein said Curt Stupka petitioned for the vacation to replat the area to build a house and create builder-friendly lots.
The commission also re-appointed Steve Champlin and Suzy Tuggle to three-year terms on the Concordia Planning Commission, agreed to continue to contract with Alfred Benesch and Company for engineering services at Blosser Municipal Airport, and directed the planning commission to consider amendments to the zoning code for adult oriented businesses.
Also approved was a bid from Most Dependable Fountains to purchase a drinking fountain to be installed by the new playground in City Park. The $4,200 fountain will have two heights of drinking areas as well as a water bottle filling station. Uri said the commission had set aside $10,000 in the 2014 budget for the park project, but since the committee has already raised the money needed to build the park, the cost of the fountain would come from that amount.
 Public Works Director Ron Copple said he plans to move the playground equipment currently at City Park to Hood Park. The equipment will be placed south of the tennis courts, and be moved after the new playground is completed.
 No action was taken after a 10-minute executive session for preliminary discussion of acquisition of real estate with Uri and Ashley McMillan, executive director of CloudCorp.

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