Visitors to Parsons who stay at the new Holiday Inn Express will pay an additional 2% in sales taxes.

City commissioners on Monday approved an ordinance to create a community improvement district at the hotel located on Cattle Drive near the U.S. 59 and U.S. 400 junction. The district also includes the adjacent Parsons, Kansas, Conference Center.

The improvement district will allow Parsons Hospitality Holding LLC, owned by Robert Patel, to collect the additional 2% sales tax to reimburse the company for improvements made to the property.

Specifically, the sales tax revenue will pay for the curb and gutter, parking lot and exterior lighting. The tax will sunset after it produces $587,067, which was the cost of those infrastructure improvements for the project.

“It’s kind of a way of him financing himself is what it boils down to,” City Attorney Ross Albertini said.

The commissioners earlier had agreed to create the community improvement district at the request of Patel after construction costs ballooned beyond what he originally anticipated.

Jim Zaleski, economic development director, said two other Holiday Inn Express hotels used improvement districts as a method of paying for development.

Patel expects the hotel to open either late this month or early January.


Common              consumption

In another matter Monday the commission voted 3-1 on a common consumption ordinance that will allow people to take alcoholic drinks from business to business and onto sidewalks and closed streets in the downtown area during special events.

Commissioner David Larsen voted against the ordinance, and Commissioner Kevin Cruse was absent from the meeting.

The ordinance designates a common consumption area with boundaries of Central Avenue, 17th Street, Washington Avenue and Broadway Avenue. Main Street is included in the area.

Events would have to be permitted to allow common consumption. Each event could use a smaller area than the entire common consumption area designated in the ordinance. Streets would have to be blocked during the event, and alcohol would have to be poured in plastic cups that identify where the drinks were sold or given. City Attorney Ross Albertini said in an earlier meeting that specific colors could be assigned to businesses, which could place colored stickers on plastic cups. No outside drinks could be taken into the designated area.

The Parsons Chamber of Commerce requested the ordinance in advance of a planned open house event on Friday and Saturday, but the ordinance wasn’t approved in time. Businesses may still provide wine or beer, but customers won’t be able to leave the stores with the drinks.

The commission delayed a vote on common consumption to give the public more time to weigh in on the issue. 

Neither the commission nor city staff reported any feedback from the public on Monday. Commissioner Tom Shaw said he was concerned that people who would want to speak up about the ordinance hadn’t had the chance. He thought by Monday they had enough opportunity.

“I guess by not, they have,” Shaw said.


Wastewater rates

Also on Monday the commissioners approved an increase in wastewater rates.

The rate will increase by $1 per month for the minimum amount and 45 cents per 750 gallons over the minimum. The city staff had suggested a higher increase, but the commissioners dialed it back.

“As a citizen, I don’t like rate increases, but as a citizen, I definitely want the wastewater system to work,” Shaw said.

The city’s auditor has pushed for more money in the utility reserve funds in case expensive repairs are needed.

In other business the commissioners:

— Heard from City Manager Debbie Lamb that Kenny Ward was hired as the new fire chief and will begin work soon after moving to town.

— Heard Lamb praise city worker Zach Sellers for calling in a fire on the morning of Nov. 27 at 1623 Belmont Ave. Sellers was operating the street sweeper in the area. He noticed smoke, not an usual sight this time of year, but he thought it didn’t look right, although others in the area didn’t notice anything unusual. The fire was easily extinguishable and caused far less damage than it would have had it not been called in promptly. A person was at home at the time of the fire and was rescued. Lamb said the city staff is looking into a program to recognize workers for going above and beyond their duties. 

— Heard from Lamb that the city utility office will be closed from noon to 1 p.m. on Dec. 11 for a holiday luncheon for employees.

— Approved payment of $24,064.80 to Garver Engineer for an update of the Tri-City Airport master plan.

— Approved payment of $5,300 to Olsson Associates for a Lake Parsons dam safety inspection, which is required every three years.

— Accepted a bid of $105,705 from RenoSys Corp., Indianapolis, for a new liner for the Parsons Municipal Swimming Pool. The city will repair concrete or have another company do the work before the liner is placed. The liner comes with a 15-year warranty.

— Approved an agreement with Jarred, Gilmore, Phillips for audit services for 2019 at a cost of up to $13,500. If a single audit is required for federal funding, the city will pay an additional $1,900.

— Set 6 p.m. Jan. 21 as the time for a public hearing on a fire-damaged structure at 1204 S. 13th owned by Robert and Rachel LeMaster. The house was uninsured.

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