The Junction City Commission learned its sales tax numbers are up to a record-breaking degree due to people choosing to shop local and even from those shopping online.
The city has also drawn some sales tax from online sales made in the city.
According to Allen Dinkel, May’s numbers were the highest the city had ever brought in. It’s up by more than 100 percent over what it was at this time last year, when the economy was suffering due to the many soldiers who had been deployed from Fort Riley.
“Our four highest months ever are this year,” Dinkel said. “This is the first year we went over $1 million per month. We’ve got four months of $1 million-plus in sales tax collections.”
This, he said, will take pressure off the property tax and allow the city to build up funds.
“That’s just awesome the sales tax has been able to stay strong for us,” Commissioner Tim Brown said. “Because that’s life and death (for the city)."
During its regular meeting, the city also voted on several matters.
Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of appointing Rev. Doreen Rice of the Episcopal Church of the Covenant and Shannon Rosauer of Live Well Geary County to Junction City’s food policy council. Both were appointed to a two-year term, which will expire Aug. 31, 2022.
The city then voted in favor of awarding a bid for an asset lease purchase agreement to Clayton Holdings LLC for an AMI project. The city received two bids for the project. Clayton had the low bid for the project at a rate of 1.29 percent, according to Finance Director Lindsay Miller. The other company that expressed interest presented a rate of about 2.75 percent, she said.
The commission also voted in favor of an ordinance allowing them to enter into an agreement with Clayton Holdings LLC.
During commissioner comments, Commissioner Nate Butler talked about an upcoming event, tentatively scheduled to take place from 5 until 9 p.m. Sept. 10. The event is a second iteration of a popular gathering that took place in August called Grub and Grooves. The outdoor event will feature music and food for sale from vendors. The four food trucks that attended the first event are scheduled to attend again with the possible addition of a new vendor. Denims and Lace, who provided music during the August gathering, will play this event as well. People will be required to wear masks, unless they are eating. The event is free to attend.
The monthly Military Affairs Council breakfast will take place from 7:30 until 8:30 a.m. Sept. 24 at Acorns Resort. War Horses for Veterans, which provides horse-based therapy for military veterans, will speak at the breakfast. People can contact the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce for tickets.
Commissioner Brown, in addition to commenting on the high sales tax numbers, also talked about the Flint Hills Regional Council. The council has received a significant amount of grant money, he said — more than $900,000 in the form of two federal grants.
“That was very, very good news is for that particular organization,” he said.
During the meeting, Dinkel said there had been talk of using the funds to help create an art district downtown in the vicinity of Seventh Street, near the C.L. Hoover Opera House.
Brown asked city officials to work on code enforcement, especially on the city’s main drags. He encouraged home and business owners on Junction City’s most-traveled roads to keep up their properties’ appearance to improve the overall look of the city.
“I just think that that's something we really need to concentrate on,” he said, addressing Junction City Police Chief John Lamb. “… There's too many boats sitting on the street. There's too many trailers sitting on the street. There's too many cars parked in front yards. There's just too much of that around town. And our patrol officers need to be out getting that stuff.”
Vice Mayor Pat Landes agreed.
"I'm not sure what we need to do — if we need more bodies or something,” Landes said. “Something's got to change, something's got to give. I mean, I think we're on the same page as far as we got to do something about how our city looks."
Commissioner Ronna Larson, who sits on the board of the Junction City/Geary County Animal Shelter, talked about the results of Clear the Shelter, which took place all throughout the month of August. The shelter adopted out 32 cats and 16 dogs, she said, with three adoption applications still pending for a total of 51 pet adoptions last month. All adoption fees were $25 last month as part of the annual event.
Mayor Jeff Underhill, who sits on the Chamber board, said the board was unable to meet last month due to lack of quorum. He encouraged people to attend business after hours, hosted by the Junction City Brigade, at 5 p.m. Sept. 17 at Rathert Field.
Dinkel encouraged people to fill out the census if they have not already done so. Everyone, he said, from permanent residents to military families to the homeless need to fill it out, because everyone counts as a resident. The census is a deciding factor in a wide variety of scenarios, including when federal funding is passed out and in encouraging businesses to set up shop in the Junction City area.
Dinkel talked about Match Day for the Geary Community Foundation Board, which is coming up Oct. 13. The event is still expected to take place. People will be able to attend online. There will be 31 local nonprofit organizations taking part in the event, during which the community foundation will match donations made to those organizations. Up to $390,000 in total could potentially be injected into local nonprofits, Dinkel said.
"It is big this year because there's $130,000 a match money,” he said.
This is up from last year’s $60,000 in matching funds.