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City commission votes to forgive loan

Following discussion between Mayor Mark Matthew and members of the Brown Grand Theatre board of directors last month, the Concordia city commission approved a motion to forgive a $51,189.31 loan with the city.
As part of the agreement to forgive the loan, the Brown Grand board will deed the parking lot to the west of the building to the city to offset a portion of the loan.
The parking lot is currently valued at $13,410.
The loan from the city to the Brown Grand board was made to help with the needed repairs to the theater during the “Save our Stage” project.
In May 2012, the Brown Grand board voted to move forward with necessary repairs to the stage area and the theater was closed.
The loan from the city to the Brown Grand board is a result of those renovations.
The theater was reopened in April 2015.
It was requested by the Brown Grand board of directors that the city consider forgiveness of the outstanding loan.
The most recent payment of $750 on the loan was made on July 9, 2019, resulting in a current balance of $51,189.31 as of October 31, 2019. Interest currently accrues at two percent per annum, or $83.94 per month.
Matthew met with Brown Grand board president Monte Wentz and board member Melissa Williamson to discuss the loan forgiveness request.
“It is a city asset. We had a group of people who took it upon themselves to help save a city asset, and spent a lot of time and effort and fell short as far as resources to pay for the rest of it. That is how we got to where the city stepped in,” Matthew said.
Matthew said that several options were discussed during the meeting with the Brown Grand board members.
“But I think in trying to expect the Brown Grand to pay that note now, or within the next five to 10 years or whatever, I think we need to face reality and I think we need to consider forgiving the entire note and we need to have them deed the parking lot over to us, which is what we have discussed, and get this off the books,” Matthew said, “I think we are postponing the inevitable if we say we are going to give you a year or two years get this turned around.”
It was stated in a memo from city manager Amy Lange to the commissioners that the Brown Grand board is not in a position to efficiently retire the debt and maintain adequate operations and maintenance of the theater.
The Brown Grand board has begun a capital campaign to replace the seats in the theater at an estimated cost of $240,00.
The seats are 93 years old, and an estimated 20 percent of them are damaged.
City staff would prefer to see the outstanding debt satisfied before the Brown Grand undertakes another large project.
The commission voted 4-0 to forgive the debt..
Commissioner Sam Sacco, who serves on the Brown Grand board, abstained.
Also during the meeting, the board voted to authorize Matthew to sign an agreement between the Kansas Secretary of Transportation and the city of Concordia for the repair of U.S. Highway 81 from the south city limits to 400 feet north of College Drive.
The cost of the project will be shared by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). The city’s share will be 10 percent up to $1,111,111. That includes preliminary engineering, construction and construction engineering.
If the project runs over $1,111,111, the city assumes all cost.
The city is responsible for the project scope and design plans for the project.
KDOT will let the contract for the project and award the contract to the lowest bidder. It also administers the construction of the project and the payments due to the contractor and consultant.
The commission approved an application from Steve Snavely to have his house at 504 East Second St. accepted into the city’s demolition program and authorized the city manager to sign the contract with the owner based on the lowest bid of $2,900 from Dalton Dirt Works.
There was a discussion on the hours of retail sale of cereal malt beverage within the city limits during the meeting.
Machelle Fisher, manager of Wood Oil, had raised concerns about the change in the hours during which cereal malt beverage could be sold.
The city commission approved Ordinance #2019-3146 on February 6, 2019, regarding the sale of cereal malt beverage.
Included in that ordinance was amending the hours of sale of cereal malt beverage to match the hours of sale of alcoholic liquor which is 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, and Sunday between noon and 8 p.m., except on Easter and Christmas Day.
Previously, the sale of cereal malt beverage was allowed from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The commission was presented with the options leaving the ordinance as is, amending the ordinance to again allow the sale of cereal malt beverage at 6 a.m. as it was or amend the ordinance to allow the sale during another timeframe that is now less restrictive than that allowed by Kansas statute.
The Concordia ordinance is currently more restrictive than state statute, which is allowed.
Public comments were made in favor of amending the ordinance to allow cereal malt beverage sales to begin at 6 a.m. and to leave it at 9 a.m.
Commissioner Chuck Lambertz said that he favored leaving the ordinance as is.
Sacco stated that he would favor amending the ordinance to again allow 6 a.m. sales.
“Again I am looking for income for the city,” Sacco said, “I think 9:00, especially during the summer, I think the city is losing a lot of income.”
The commission will seek more information about sales numbers from area businesses before taking a vote on possible changes to the ordinance.
Four city employees were recognized for their years of service including:
Ron Copple, Public Works director, 35 years; Charlotte Justyna, Police Department dispatcher, 20 years; Amber Farha, Finance director, 10 years; Andrew Allen, firefighter/AEMT, 10 years.
The commission proclaimed November as Poppy Month in honor of veterans and proclaimed November 21 as Great American Smokeout Day to encourage people to quit smoking.


Concordia Blade-Empire

510 Washington St.
Concordia, KS 66901