Newton city commissioners have approved a management agreement for a new conference center.


Newton city commissioners have approved a management agreement for a new conference center.
The agreement entrusts management of the facility to Kemper Sports, the same company contracted to manage the Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
At the regular commission meeting Tuesday night, commissioners spoke with officials from Kemper who have worked closely with the city on the golf course management.
Commissioners praised the management of Sand Creek Station and said they look forward to working with the same company on the conference center.
The management agreement for the conference center was based on the original agreement for the golf course, City Attorney Bob Myers said.
“So it should work like what seems to be working pretty well for the golf course,” Myers said.
The agreement outlines two phases for the project, and the expectations for Kemper in the management of each phase. Phase one begins June 1 and continues through the opening day of the facility. Phase one includes marketing, hiring staff and developing an operating budget.
The second phase begins when the facility is opened and continues through the term of the contract, which is nine years but can be extended once that term expires.
Phase two consists of basic day-to-day operations.
The contract also outlines what Kemper will be paid for management services, $5,000 per month during phase one, and $84,000 per year for phase two. That number will increase 3 percent annually. The company also will pay an incentive fee for income beyond $750,000.
The city initially had hoped the developers of a Holiday Inn Express, which will be built next door to the new conference center, would be interested in managing the facility.
When that idea fell through, the city turned to Kemper Sports because of the pre-existing relationship with the company as management for the golf course.
Developers of the hotel have approved the agreement for Kemper Sports to manage the conference center.
Also at the city commission meeting:
• Commissioners approved the rezoning of property at 1208 E. 12th St., previously classified as residential, to general business district zoning. The rezoning was already approved by the planning commission.
The city commission also approved the rezoning of agricultural property on the south side of Southeast 24th St. to general business district. That motion also required the city commission approve an annexation of the land. The planning commission also approved the annexation and rezoning in advance.
• A resolution was passed by the commission authorizing repairs to the Warkentin House, for which the city will issue general obligation bonds.
• Police Chief Jim Daily also made a request on behalf of the Newton Police that commissioners approve an application for a grant to update surveillance and recording equipment at the police station. He explained the police station still uses VHS tapes in its recording system. The grant would also allow police to afford a new body wire system, which Daily said is much more discrete than what they have now. The total amount the police station can expect to get from the grant is $16,170, which would cover most of the cost for the new equipment. The city approved of the application, meaning the police department can move forward in pursuit of the grant.