The city commission approved a package of incentives — including a $300,000 forgivable loan — for Park Aircraft Technologies Corp. at the regular Tuesday meeting.


The city commission approved a package of incentives — including a $300,000 forgivable loan — for Park Aircraft Technologies Corp. at the regular Tuesday meeting.

Bob Myers, city attorney, said the development agreement had been discussed in several previous executive sessions, but because of timing, Park had moved forward with plans and a groundbreaking prior to the agreement being formally adopted by the city. Park’s facility is at the Newton City/County Airport.

The funds for the incentives come from sales tax revenue devoted to economic development initiatives.

The loan is forgivable after 10 years if the company still is in operation and has fulfilled its agreement to expand. Other incentives include:

• The city waiving or assuming the responsibility for all existing assessments in relation to the property and new facility for sewer utilities;

• The city extending appropriate water and sewer lines to the new facilities at no cost;

• The city waiving all building permit fees and water/wastewater hook-up fees for the construction;

• The city extending the necessary connections and facilities for high-speed Internet services;

• The city reimbursing Park up to $6,000 for the cost and connections fee to Kansas Gas Service.

The county also is planning a 100-percent, 10-year tax abatement for the expansion.

Myers said Park has chosen Newton to be the company’s “showcase facility,” and said several states were in competition for this new facility. The new facility expansion will focus on manufacturing composite parts.

Park is planning a 42,000-square-foot expansion. The company has about 20 employees now but projects to be at about 90 by the end of the fourth year of operation.

The commission also made steps forward on two large public works projects — one being upgrades and repairs to the First Street pumping station and the second being the building of the Interstate 135 sewer interceptor.

Suzanne Loomis, city director of public works, said the pumping station is experiencing a multitude of issues, including mechanical problems, age of equipment, inadequate power supply back up and wearing paint.

Loomis said the secondary power sources is an important issue because the pumping station pumps water into all of the city’s elevated water towers to then be dispersed all over the city. If the city were to lose power for more than six hours, it could have to institute water rationing, as the city would have to rely on the water supply already in the towers because it would not be able to pump more into towers. The project includes adding a diesel secondary power system.

There also are issues with the pumps in the station. Three are 1942 models, and Loomis said such equipment usually has a useful life span of 20 to 40 years. One pump is down and unable to be fixed. She said it’s impossible to obtain parts for some features because of their age.

There will be other aspects of the project, including painting the ground-level storage tank and replacing electric panels.

Cost of the project will be about $1.7 million. Loomis said the city may be eligible for a state low-interest loan after the first of the year, which would save the city about two percentage points on the loan. The project will be funded through the water utility fund, and Ron Ahsmuhs, city finance director, said the cost has been calculated into the current water rate structure.

The commission also moved forward on the sewer interceptor project, which the city has learned will be eligible for a state low-interest loan. The project will be funded from the sewer utility fund at a cost of $3.2 million.

The project will allow the city to expand its sewer services to a large area on the east side of I-135, south and east of the existing city limit boundaries. This sewer will eventually be extended north to East First Street to intercept the airport sewer, freeing up capacity of mains running through the middle of town. The project is in response to requests for industrial development properties on the east side of the interstate, according to the city.

The commission also approved increases in several city fees, including building permits; plumbing, electrical and mechanical licenses and permit fees; wrecking permits; and contractor licenses.. Loomis said the changes get permits “a little closer to actual costs,” but she said staff worked to keep them lower than many surrounding communities.

Many of the fees had not been adjusted since the 1980s, and Loomis said the intent is to examine them annually or at least every two years in the future.

The changes had been discussed with the Harvey County Builders Association, and several trade groups also have been notified, Loomis said.

In other business, the commission:

• The commission discussed what role it would have with the newly formed Community Development Corporation, with the group arriving at the informal agreement the commission might be willing to give the group $150,000 if the commission has more details on what the money will be used for.

The CDC had asked the commission for that amount, which is from the sale of the former Bank of America building.

• Received plans and specifications for golf course putting green project and set the bid date as 2 p.m. Nov. 9.

The project will create a larger practice surface for the putting and chipping greens. The project will be built in two phases to allow play to continue on a portion of the practice area during construction. The project is expected to be completed by September 2010.

• Approved a cereal malt beverage license for Sunshine Energy LLC. Sunshine Energy has purchased the convenience store located at 110 S. Main St.

• Heard that the city’s new home incentive program has had about seven takers, including some who are scheduled to close in the next few weeks.