Commission Discuss Economic Development Letter
At the last Get-A-Round meeting, (this is the meeting the Commission
holds to get around the Kansas Open Meeting Act at
5:30) the Manhattan City Commissioners discussed a letter they had received about economic development. The letter was
from attorney Joe Knopp. Here is the letter:
Dear Mayor Reitz,
As a private citizen and not as an advocate of any client, I would like
to share some observations. I've noticed in the
Manhattan Mercury that the City of Manhattan is going to expend taxpayer money for an "Economic Development Study" to
induce KDOT to fund improvements for K-18. I support that decision with these reservations.
KDOT should ask any applicant (city, county or township) how the money
it requested for economic development was used
in the past. In our specific case, Manhattan should be asked to show how it used the first $13 million of KDOT economic
development money for Seth Child Road expansion before they fund new K-18 expansion. Recall the city promised it would
use $13 million on Seth Child for retail expansion. If I were on the evaluation committee for the Secretary of Transportation, I
would be suspicious of any economic study submitted by the City of Manhattan.
Every city in Kansas that has a competing project for these scarce KDOT
dollars should be informed that Manhattan will
promise anything and then once the project is completed, ignore those promises. The cold hard facts are that expansion of
Seth Child has brought no new economic development. It has not increased the tax base at all. If anything, with the new Law
Enforcement Center off the tax rolls, the taxable land has been reduced.
I believe that this commission's track record could be and should be
used against Manhattan by any competing city.
Therefore, I would strongly recommend that before you make any commitments to fund any economic development studies,
that you reevaluate the community's position on Economic Development. Is the City really committed to economic
development is KDOT does grant approval of the K-18 project?
As the old saying goes, "Trick me once, shame on you; trick me twice,
shame on me." I don't believe that the State, nor the
other communities in the State of Kansas, should stand by for these shenanigans. "Bait and Switch" should apply to
governments as well as the private sector.