The Manhattan City Commission has amended Charter Ordinance No. 44 to set the purchasing power limit to $50,000.

Earlier this year, due to the pandemic, the City Manager’s office saw that spending power increased from $20,000 to $75,000. Commissioner Linda Morse supported the change.

“When you get a new accounting system, it seems to me that the, board of directors or a commission needs better financial oversight, it needs to be better. I at the time lobbied for $50,000  and the commission wanted to go to 75 and I agreed to that on the emergency basis, because we didn’t know what was ahead. As long as we’re in a declared emergency, I’m comfortable with the $75,000,” Morse said.

It also allows the City Manager to allow estimates for its bidding process to be made by the city engineer under oath or by any competent person appointed by the City Manager.

Mayor Pro-Tem Wynn Butler argued that doing this essentially limits the commission’s ability to provide oversight.

“I look at it as a form of empowerment, and some of you had discussed you have oversight, but you don’t have any. When you empower someone, you essentially give them the reigns, they make the decision and you live with the results, otherwise you shouldn’t empower them. So that’s where you’re going when you do this, and sure it’s put on the register and we see that the money spent, but it’s just like when the education [event]was put on. The city staff spent $75,000 on that one thing, you have to accept it. Why? Because we empowered them to do it, but we can’t overturn that at that point. And so what you’re doing is you are giving away the oversight when you raise the amount, it’s just that simple. And that’s really what the issue is,” Butler said.

The commission Tuesday also unanimously approved the second consideration of an economic development application for BEV-HUB, LLC.

The Wichita based company handles processing, canning, labeling and shipping of beverages for national and international clients.

Their proposed incentive package will include a 10-year tax abatement on a $900,000 expansion of the former Tallgrass Brewing Company building near the airport.

BEV-HUB plans to create 37 new jobs for its facility, paying an average of $16 per hour.

Butler lent support, highlighting the success previously with Civic Plus and that receiving property taxes is not the focus of funding this company.

“Remember the thing here was not to get this company in here to pay property tax. It was to create jobs. That’s what it was all about. This is a good package; one of the better ones I’ve seen. And I know we’ve had some good successes and a few failures, but, I think this one is on the road to success. I’m a hundred percent for it,” Butler said.

Economic Development Director of Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Daryn Soldan, cited how this opportunity is a great fit for attracting talent and inviting entrepreneurship.

“This project, especially in this time, as we deal with COVID and other challenges is a great fit for strategy of the chamber and our economic development efforts. The job creation component obviously is as we just talked about, is like the talent piece, whether it’s hiring the potential folks transitioning from Fort Riley or K-State students, or creating other opportunities with training in our area, [with]entrepreneurship is being able to keep a Kansas entrepreneur at home and, allowing that person and their company an opportunity to grow here in Kansas. The fact that they’re working with Kansas State University is really, really exciting,” Soldan said.

Attending to other matters Tuesday, as part of the consent agenda, the city administration approved Item D, pertaining to the establishment of a Selection Committee to oversee consultant submissions of the Strategic Plan for the City of Manhattan.

The Selection Committee will be comprised of representatives from City departments, as well as no more than two members of the City Commission.

Butler voted to approve all items in the agenda except this item, as there are staff capable of undertaking this task already.

“I felt like the administration of the city should do the strategic plan and we should not spend money on a consultant. That’s why we hired city managers, assistant managers, and all that. We’ve got a high paid staff and that high paid staff should write the strategic plan. And so I’m not going to support item D,” Butler said.

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