Holton Commission considers increasing its allocation to the Chamber

Since the City of Holton will no longer be chipping in funds for the operation of Holton Main Street, which will no longer be active at the end of the year, the Holton City Commission on Monday discussed the possibility of increasing its annual allocation to the Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

Commissioner Erich Campbell said Chamber officials have asked for financial assistance with the electric bill on its digital billboard, located at the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and Kansas Highway 16.

However, commissioners took no action on the request until they can get more information on how much of an electric bill the billboard generates.

Holton City Clerk Teresa Riley estimated that the billboard’s electric bill was “several hundred dollars a month,” mainly because “there’s a lot of electronics in that sign,” including fans and other equipment needed to keep the billboard’s workings at a certain temperature.

With Holton Main Street’s time drawing to a close, commissioners noted, some of the $10,000 allocation that organization had been receiving could be given to the Chamber for that purpose. In the most recent budget, Assistant City Manager Kerwin McKee noted, the city reportedly allocated $5,000 to the Chamber.

“Maybe there’s an opportunity there,” McKee said.

Commissioner Tim Morris agreed, saying that there are some “worthwhile and small situations in Holton where the good will of the city” outweighs any related costs.

On the other hand, Campbell noted that if the city were to provide the Chamber with “free electricity” for the billboard, other organizations would expect to have similar requests granted. He noted that a request from the Jackson County Historical Society for similar financial aid for the Roebke House and two other society-owned buildings in recent years was not granted.

As a result, Holton Mayor Robert Dieckmann suggested that when such requests are received, the city should be “responsible enough” to decide on a case-by-case basis which requests for financial assistance should be granted.

In other business on Monday, commissioners approved a resolution adopting a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan that McKee said “piggybacks” off a new plan that is being developed at the county level by Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Pat Korte.

The city approved a plan in October 2010 that has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it was noted. Now, municipalities participating in the plan are required to approve resolutions adopting the plan for FEMA’s Region K, which covers northeastern Kansas.

“It’s very important that we are a part of this plan, because in the event of any disaster, this allows us to get FEMA funds,” McKee said. “And the county is working with several other counties on this as well.”
Commissioners also:

* Noted the absence of Holton City Manager Bret Bauer.

* Approved minutes from the Nov. 3 meeting and budget appropriations made since that meeting.

* Approved a temporary alcoholic liquor license for Your Place or Mine Catering, pending state approval of the license. The business is hosting a Christmas party on Saturday, Dec. 12, commissioners noted.

* Heard a question from Commissioner Twila White on the location of certain city subdivisions.

* Heard comment from McKee that the city has experienced only one water main line break in recent weeks due to cold weather. Topeka, by contrast, reportedly has had 25 water main breaks in the past week, White added.

* Learned from Dieckmann that Highland Community College and Super 8 Motel had agreed to allow their parking lots to be used for monthly Harvesters Mobile Food Pantry distributions. Dieckmann and Brenner also noted that they would fix the pothole in front of Super 8 at their own expense, since the frontage road in front of the motel is not a city street.

* Heard a comment from Morris about certain city sidewalks and discussed how they are maintained (see related story).

* Met in executive session for 10 minutes with McKee and Riley present to discuss personnel matters. No action resulted from the session.

* Met in executive session for 10 minutes with McKee and Riley present to discuss land acquisition. No action resulted from the session.

* Adjourned the meeting at 7:45 p.m. All commissioners were present.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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