Task force suggests wage hike

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The Manhattan City Commission met last night for its regular meeting.

Mayor Bob Strawn proclaimed April 2010 was Child Abuse Prevention Month and April 6 was Lou Ann Getz day. Getz was designated a 2010 Kansas Master Teacher.

Commissioners then moved on to approve items previously reviewed.

Next, commissioners heard updates on a consolidated public hearing plan, heard recommendations from the Economic Development Model Task Force, discussed a bid rejection for a zoo education center, and authorized the public bidding of Third Street and Pierre Street intersection.

To continue participating in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant entitlement program, the city is required to have an approved consolidated plan, which is updated every five years.

The plan will include a citizen participation plan, five-year strategic plan, annual action plan, and a number of certifications and supporting documents as required by HUD. No motion was necessary.

The task force recommended a series of changes to the Return-on-Investment model; these included adjusting the base wage structure to have a wage floor of $12 per hour, rather than $10 per hour and incorporate the necessary changes into the City’s economic development application materials, process, and model. The recommendations were approved 3-2 with commissioners James E. Sherow and Jayme Morris-Hardeman disagreeing.

Curt Loupe, director of Parks and Recreation, discussed plans to reduce construction cost on a zoo education center by modifying the design.

The site for the center, like the rest of Sunset Zoo, is on a hillside with widespread rocks. Removal of the rock for footings led to considerable structural engineering to tie the building together, which inflated construction costs as contractors described their concerns over the site geology. Costs also grew due to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment requirements for programming for pre-school and school-age children.

Loupe, said among other things, that the simple changes made to the design of the building will greatly reduce cost.

The motion was approved.

Lastly, Robert K. Ott, P.E., city engineer, made a proposal to commissioners to seek permission to advertise for bids to make improvements to the Third Street and Pierre Street intersection and move forward with the project. The improvements include new pavement and sidewalks, installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection, and modified plans for bicycles. The proposal was approved. Construction will begin May 24.

A regular meeting will take place next Tuesday at City Hall. All Citizens are encouraged to attend or view the meeting on cable channel 3.

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