The city commission met Tuesday at Newton City Hall.
1. A payment
The commission voted to make a $700,000 payment on the principal on a bond issued to upgrade the sewage treatment plant.
Funds for the payment come from a 38% surcharge that the city levied on customers, a surcharge that was the topic of a 45-minute work session before the city meeting. Funds generated from the surcharge are being used to pay the bond off early, establish and maintain reserve funds required by KDHE and to prevent rate increases the past two years.
"This surcharge is doing exactly what we said it would do," said city manager Bob Myers. "It is funding these expenses and it is working."
City staff estimates the city will save about $2.5 million in interest payments if the city pays the bonds off early by leaving the fee at current levels.
2. A CID
The commission voted to move the creation of a Community Improvement District forward. The CID would establish an additional sales tax to be collected within the district, which is limited to the Holiday Inn Express.
The CID and tax were requested by owners of the hotel. Funds will be used for hotel renovations. The extra sales tax within the hotel will remain in place until the improvements are paid or about 20 years.
3. A delay
The commission delayed sending a draft of a new agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office that would replace a lapsed agreement and preserve the ability of the city to perform "administrative reviews" of renovation projects on historic buildings.
The new agreement could lead to the dissolution of the Historic Preservation Commission.
"I would really urge us to take the high road in working with people on the Historic Preservation Commission," said Commissioner Barth Hague. "I feel like the questions I have been getting, people feel like they are in the dark about what is going on."
"They need to be communicated with and a part of what we are doing here," said Commissioner Leroy Koehn. "They do not feel like they are at this point."
The draft agreement was tabled pending a meeting with members of the Historic Preservation Commission.