Legislative priorities were outlined Tuesday night during a special meeting of the Manhattan City Commission.
Among them, city staff oppose legislation that would limit or negatively influence the property tax base. Part of that includes anything that artificially limits or otherwise alters residential and commercial property valuation, similar to dark store valuation, an appraisal practice of valuing commercial properties as vacant (or dark) stores.
City Manager Ron Fehr says it allows retailers to have their property taxes assessed at a much lower rate. He explains why this precedent has local governments concerned.
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With the state set to eliminate the sales tax on food in the near future, other revenue sources are being explored. City officials are supportive of creating sales tax revenue in STAR Bond districts. The financing tool allows municipalities to issue bonds to finance development of major commercial, entertainment and tourism projects. The tool was instrumental in the development of the Flint Hills Discovery Center and Blue Earth Plaza.

Fehr explains how the removal of food sales tax affects these issued bonds.

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During the discussion, City Commissioner Wynn Butler proposed a potential catch-all solution.

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City staff are opposed to legislation eliminating a city’s ability to apply planning, zoning and subdivision regulations to areas directly adjacent to city limits. They also support reactivation and ongoing funding of previously eliminated state-shared revenues, such as the Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction fund.

City staff will meet with area lawmakers during a legislative luncheon on Jan. 5 at City Hall.
Commissioners on Tuesday night also approved on second reading an amended tax increment financing plan for the Midtown Aggieville project, adopting an ordinance in the process. A development agreement will be considered at next week’s meeting, which will be the city’s final meeting before the end of the year.

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