State officials address commissioners? TIF questions

Marion County commissioners got some of theirs questions about tax-increment financing districts in Hillsboro and Peabody answered Monday by state officials.

County Appraiser Cindy Magill and Treasurer Jeannine Bateman joined the commissioners to call Bill Waters, TIF attorney for the Department of Property Valuation, Kansas State Department of Revenue, and an associate for a teleconference.

Magill said she might even be ready to start talking with the city of Hillsboro about how to handle its TIF program that was created to build Midway Motors? new location, ?except legally Hillsboro doesn?t have Midway in a TIF district.?

She said all the city legally has platted in the TIF district is the old AMPI plant and grounds.

But when the commissioners got more information from the city, the state officials gave them several answers to consider.

They said TIF is not just for blighted areas, such as developments of stadiums or race tracks in dilapidated urban areas. It was also created in Kansas to build industrial parks with infrastructure on vacant land.

They noted that the original program came about to help the city of Manhattan add its mall on East Poyntz Street with a bond issue.

They said it also can be used, as is being done in Peabody with the downtown, to rebuild a historic area.

They said a TIF program is timed according to how long it takes to pay off bonds. On a 20-year program, such as with Midway, if another lot of the industrial park came into the TIF 14 years into the program, its individual program could only go for six years.

The commissioners had been concerned that each new business entering the program could also be allowed to run for 20 years.

The officials said they believed that the only taxing entities with veto power over a city?s TIF, besides the city itself, are the county and the school district. Entities such as fire districts and cemetery districts wouldn?t be included.

The officials recommended that Marion County officials talk with Kingman County officials because Kingman has several TIF districts.

Marion?County EDC

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman reported the county economic development council, which appears to be in the process of dissolving, has more than $11,000 left in its budget. Of that total, she said $3,813.28 needs to be kept for Leadership Marion County.

Huffman said she oversees other fees being paid from that account, although she doesn?t write the checks.

She recommended the money be left intact to make certain all expenses are covered.

The commissioners said they are considering creation of something like a council that would be composed of three volunteers from each of the three commission districts.

Huffman said rather than working with a committee that meets regularly to make proposals, she enjoys going to the communities of the county to offer help to groups working on improvements.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said any kind of council and the specifics of what Huffman might be asked to do in the future ?are unchartered waters.?

New-building programs

Commissioner Bob Hein, who was in his last commission meeting after 14 years of service, told the other commissioners he thought one of their first steps in any new building program, whether for a jail, a health building or an office building, would be to determine whether to pay for it with sales tax or property tax.

Hein is expected to be succeeded next week by Commissioner-elect Roger Fleming.

Commissioner Dan Holub said he had hoped there would be a settlement at the state level on the tax exemption granted TransCanada Keystone Pipeline that would result in enough money coming into the county to build a new jail.

But, he said, none of the legislators representing Marion County are willing to introduce a bill to counteract the exemption, and the tax court is moving too slowly for a decision soon. So, he said, that leaves the commissioners indecisive about whether to enter a question on building for voters on the April ballot.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said the commissioners should let her know by February if they want to make the April ballot.

Other business

Holub said he had been contacted by former County Commissioner Howard Collett about sharing commissioners? concerns that former county records have good storage space for preservation.

Hein also asked that Maggard try again to get Heritage Trust financing to replace the windows in the courthouse, which commissioners say are deteriorating.

The commissioners granted Baker Brothers Printing a $2,999 bid to provide the clerk?s office with 100 cases of copy paper, 5,000 sheets a box, over competitive bids of $3,250 from Navrat?s of Emporia, $3,140 from Dick?s of Emporia, and $3,060 from Office Plus of Kansas of Wichita.

Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet asked the commissioners to consider possible purchase of a wood chipping machine for disposal of tree trimming waste.

The commissioners accepted a bid of $770 from Markley Service of Hillsboro for 25 gallons of Pathway herbicide for the noxious weed department over competitive bids of $773.75 from Ag Service of Hillsboro, and $876.25 for either of the co-ops at Tampa or Hillsboro.

The commissioners also met Dec. 30 in a $737,768.34 payday meeting.

Maggard reported receipt of $49,000.22 in sales tax, including $5,550.30 in out-of-county compensating tax, for October, received by the state in November and distributed to the counties in December.

She said the receipt finished sales taxes received for the year at $630,985.34, which was $30,820.66 over last year?s total of $600,164.68, the most for all the years noted since 2003.

County Attorney Susan Robson said she and Rex Savage, representing the land owners who comprise Windborn Energy Inc., have arrived at a contract that resembles the county contract with Keystone Pipeline in its coverage on road damage and requirements.

Hein commended Savage for his work and diligence in creating the first wind turbine energy farm in Marion County.

Savage said several power companies are indicating interest in development of the area.

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