City Complains About "Outside Agency Funding"


By Jon A. Brake

The City of Manhattan has created a monster and now they are complaining because the thing wants to eat.

Over the years the City has spent money like a drunken sailor. Now we have three members that have put a stop to the spending and some people are starting to complain.

But the Commissioners have reason for concern. Here is what Moody’s Investment Service had to say about Manhattan: "Over the next three years, the city intends to maintain its quarterly issuance pattern and issue no more debt than it retires each year, as dictated by a formal debt management policy adopted earlier in 2002. Consequently, Moody’s anticipates that the city’s debt burden will moderate due to continued tax base growth coupled with a level amount of debt outstanding."

That is a warning. At least three Commissioners are taking the warning to heart. But, again some want to complain because the City wants to cut into their funds.

Now the City Administration is complaining about "Outside Agency Funding." These are organizations that the City funds but have little or no control over.

The one big exception is the Riley County Police Department. The City pays $7.5 million of the $9 plus million that it takes to run the department. But, why is police department called an "Outside Agency"? The City has had a police department since day one. It is their responsibility to protect the citizens of Manhattan.

If it were not called the Riley County Police Department it would be called the Manhattan Police Department. And what about control? The Riley County Law Board that has control was designed to have members of the community appointed by the City and County. For the past four or five years both commissions have been appointing themselves to the Board. Some years the City has had four City Commissioners on the seven member Board and some years three.

If the City Administration or City Commissioners do not like what the RCPD is doing they need to talk to themselves.

In all the "Outside Agencies" will receive $11 million from the City in 2003. That is up from $10.4 million in 2002.

All of the other agencies have contracts or the City has passed an ordinance giving them money. The Manhattan Public Library will receive $1.5 million in 2003 but they are under the 6 mills the City Commission set several years ago.

The Chamber of Commerce will receive $137,000 again this year plus the Convention & Visitors Bureau will get $532,000. Both amounts are voted on each year. The City Administration talks about not having control over the agencies but they could say: "City Administration does not approve of this contract."

The other agencies are the same, the City complains but then signs a contract or votes to approve the money.

The City/University Special Projects is something different. This agreement was set up in about 1996 so the City could add the University to the city limits and add 6,000 students to the population. (The City wanted to get to 50,000 so the extra federal money would kick in; we didn’t make it.) In return the City gives the City tax money back to the University by agreeing to pay for projects.

In the end the City should not complain, they are the ones that created the problems.