The Salina Journal Sunday, February 2,1986 Page Sll Downtown redevelopment... at last TwnDcrwy Utilities that blight the alleys will Lc moved underground. By GORDON D. FIEDLER Jr. Staff Writer More than 10 years of talking about redeveloping Salina's central business district finally has jelled into a plan that is off the drawing board and scheduled for completion later this year. The $6.5 million program will develop on three broad fronts: cosmetic surgery on Santa Fe, Seventh and Fifth from Mulberry to Ash; more parking and improved arcades linking the lots to Santa Fe stores; improving the looks of the alleys by relocating the utilities that in some places choke off a view of the sky. Removing the transformers, wires and other utility equipment is crucial to enhancing the alley entrances to Santa Fe stores. Improving alley entrances, as well as the main entries to the stores, is an integral element because the overall success of the downtown facelift will depend on attracting shoppers, supporters of the plan say. There also is a proposal to ban vehicular traffic in the alleys. Forcing pedestrians to duel for alley space with delivery trucks and other vehicles would defeat the goal of attracting shoppers, said Robert Bostater, vice chairman of the advisory board of the Business Improvement District, which is overseeing the project. "It's important we keep that in mind," Bostater said. "We don't want to discourage people from coming downtown." The $6.5 million, which will be raised from sales tax receipts and from tax levies against downtown property within an 11-block area bounded by Ash, Fourth, Mulberry and Eighth streets, will finance only Scott Wllllami Finding a parking place can mean circling the block a few times. Government the public portion of the development. Store owners will finance their own remodeling and design plans. Relocating the utilities is estimated to take about one-third of the $6.5 million. Another third will be spent on improving the looks of Santa Fe, Seventh and Fifth. Creating more parking lots and enlarging the arcades linking Santa Fe with Seventh and Fifth streets will claim the remaining third. So far, the city has spent $575,250 on property acquisition, including $49,000 for the Shank's building at 120 S. Santa Fe. The building will be razed and the space turned into an open-air arcade between Santa Fe and Seventh Street. Also, the city commission recently approved the purchase of the former Strand Theater auditorium for $42,500. The decision to acquire the Shanks and Strand properties was a recent one, and replaced plans to buy the Kinney's Shoe Store building at 128 S. Santa Fe to expand an existing arcade there. Earlier last year, Brown Mackie College, which occupies space above the shoe store, had planned to move from downtown. That would have relieved the city of the cost of paying for the college's relocation costs. However, school officials later changed their minds and decided to remain downtown. Downtown Development Director Ann Knowles said that rather than pay an estimated $350,000 to buy and relocate the college property for the arcade development at the Kinney location, the BID searched for less costly property to buy. It settled on the vacant Shank's building and the Strand auditorium, which adjoins the back half of Shank's. Knowles said acquiring Shank's and the Strand in place of the Kinney and Brown Mackie property saved about $250,000. Plans are to remove the Shank's building for an arcade and convert the Strand into a pedestrian plaza along the alley between Santa Fe and Seventh. The existing arcade adjacent to the Kinney building will be closed. Knowles said Brown Mackie is proposing to negotiate with the city for that space. The BID also wants the commission to appraise the building occupied by Traylor Travel Service, 126 N. Santa Fe, for possible purchase and transformation into an arcade linking Santa Fe with Fifth. So far, however, the commission has not acted on the request. Courthouse built in 1870 The first Saline County courthouse „ was built in 1870-71 on North Ninth Street between Park and Elm Streets. The second courthouse was built on the same site in 1912-13 and served as the county headquarters until the present city-county building, 300 W. Ash, was occupied in November of 1969. The former courthouse building now serves as the Leisure Years Center. jSolons seek Ifix for transient merchant law : By JILL CASEY : Staff Writer : The transient merchant tax law, on ;the books since 1915 but enforced ^strictly for the first time on July 1, of •last year raised a spectre of revenue loss that sent an economic shiver through Salina. .The law requiring the taxing of temporary merchants' inventory brought into Kansas was rarely enforced before the Transient Merchants Licensing Act was approved • during the 1985 legislative session. A Salina antique show was the first casualty of the law. It was canceled ; in July after its Oklahoma promoter .decided to go elsewhere because of Concerns that exhibitors would not • relish being asked to pay property Jtax. • John Ryberg, director of conven- 'tion and tourism for the Salina Area • Chamber of Commerce, said about $3.2 million could be lost to the ; Bicentennial Center alone if such a ; law were enforced. : Sen. Ben Vidricksen, R-Salina, in .'September profiled a bill that would ! repeal the harmful aspects of the law ; and keep some of the more positive. ; "This is designed to take care of • the problems that have come up," he • said. "But it still protects our local • merchants from the people who come '.through and set up shop on the ^corner." : He profiled the bill in hopes placing .'it on the legislative docket well in '.advance would enable convention ; centers to use its promise to their ; advantage as they tried to book trade ;shows that might have shied away ;because of the law. '• A bill also has been prefiled in the •House. • The two bills seek to remedy the •question of who must obtain a license land pay inventory taxes by prescribing a long list of shows and activities .that would be specifically exempt Ifrom property taxes. : The tax exemption would apply to ;trade shows, expositions, conventions, fairs, convention center activities, sales by religious and non-profit organization, craft fairs, ag- •ricultural goods raised or produced "by the seller, and rock, stamp and coin shows if the language in the two measures remains substantially intact. Under terms of the bills, the exempt goods and merchandise could only be offered for sale, exhibition or display at temporary sites for no longer than 14 days each year. Tulips to bloom at Philips A touch of Holland soon will be blossoming in south Salina. In November, more than 6,000 tulip bulbs were planted along the front of the North American Philips Lighting Corporation building. The bulbs were a gift from N.V. Philips of the Netherlands, one of Philips' two parent companies (the other one being North American Philips Corp.) Joe Cinalli, plant manager, said the gift was a gesture of good will from the Holland-based company in appreciation of Philips' purchase of plant equipment. New floodplain rules about to be launched in Salina By PHILOMENA LAWRENCE Special to The Journal Through 1985, the City of Salina was deluged with studies on the flood- prone zones and implementation of the federally mandated Flood Insurance Program. This year, plans are afloat to take action on some of the program's proposals. According to city planner Keith Rawlings, the floodplain regulations formulated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will go into effect on Feb. 5. "I'm reasonably sure that the recommendations on the draft will pass with minor revisions. I don't see anything that the city commission can do to change any of it. If a person's property falls within the bounds of the flood zone, they'll be able to appeal the decision," said City Commissioner John Burgess. FEMA published maps of the city and county identifying the flood- prone areas. According to the study conducted by Bucher, Willis and Ratliff Consulting Engineers, Planners and Architects, a large portion of south Salina is flood prone. Other . a.. •»••*«•» Salina Journal During a June 1981 flood, two youngsters paddle a rubber raft on Second Street north of Crawford. parts of town, primarily central Salina along the "slough" and near the old Smoky Hill River channel, also are included in the flood-prone areas. Federal regulations forbid the construction or rebuilding of houses in a floodway. These carry the main flows of rivers, creeks and other water courses during a flood. "We are particularly upset about the rebuilding provision of the draft. It causes tremendous hardships. We can't believe it's true but we can't do anything about it on the local level until we do something about it on the national level," said Alice Denning, chairman of the Salina Board of Realtors' city planning and zoning committee, which has been studying the floodplain regulations. In a flood fringe, an existing house which sustains at least 51 percent damage in a flood, fire, tornado or other disaster, would have to be elevated to the "base flood elevation." This is the estimated level of flooding likely to occur once every 100 years. The lowest floor, including the basement, of new constructions in the flood fringe must be at or above the base flood elevation. The stipulation regarding basements has officials, real estate agents and residents concerned. "The public doesn't see homes without basements in a favorable light. We have requested a basement exemption but have not received word on it," said Rawlings. "Till we do, we will not be issuing permits." Partially as a result of the flood zoning issue, the prime growth area has shifted from south Salina to the east part of town, Rawlings said. The adoption of the plan could further that shift and increase the percentage of development in east Salina, he added. There is also a possibility that a portion of North Ninth Street, between the levee and 1-70 will be designated as being in the floodway. "There will be no construction or very limited construction in any area designated floodway," said Rawlings. "It is also possible that the new maps will include some areas of Fifth Street. For all practical purposes, the entire area on North Ninth and North Fifth, from Thomas Park to I- 70 will be included in the floodway. That.could be controversial.'' Controversial or not, city officials and business leaders say they have little choice in accepting or rejecting the program. As Burgess put it, "There's too much to lose if we don't pass the draft." Failure to comply would result in sanctions. Salina residents, for example, would be unable to buy federal flood insurance. In addition, the government would eliminate grants and disaster assistance loans in connection with a flood. Any other form of direct federal assistance for construction within the flood hazard areas also would be denied. Infant reappraisal effort taking its first steps By MARY JO PROCHAZKA Associate Editor From an altitude of 12,000 feet, Regina Comfort peers down over rural Saline County, carefully positioning her camera to capture the land on film. The altitude is important. On completed pictures, one inch of photograph must equal 400 feet of ground. Pictures of Salina and areas immediately adjacent must wait until probably at least the middle of February. They'll be taken from lower altitudes, and the winter sun is too low in the sky. Its shadows could render photographs unusable. Comfort, of Tulsa, Okla., isn't just snapping pictures for fun. She and her crew are taking them as one of the first steps toward completing a 3%-year reappraisal of all real property in Kansas. The massive nature of the effort is revealed by many measures, not the least of which Is the ideal Kansas weather required. Aerial photographers, hired and paid by the state, need clear days, with no haze or low clouds, when the ground isn't blanketed by snow or covered by too much standing water. Saline County taxpayers already have felt a bite from the state-ordered reappraisal. Although the new values won't be used to compute property taxes until 1989, the Saline County Commission has raised taxes to pay for the reappraisal work. The last statewide reappraisal was 16 years ago. Since then, the matter of property taxation in Kansas has disintegrated into one of those things everyone agrees is unfair, but for which few agree on a solution. As Vic Miller, director of the state's Property Valuation Division, puts it in a brochure his staff prepared: "Property tax values have not been kept up to date. ... Different types of property are assessed at will :ly differing percentages of fair market value. Identical pieces of property are also assessed at very different levels. Consequently, taxpayers have no assurance they are being treated the same as their neighbors who have similar amounts of property. "The only solution is to reappraise all real estate so that all property records are brought up to date and appraised values are brought into line with current market conditions." That solution is the goal of legislation passed by the 1985 Legislature, which orders statewide reappraisal of real property — land and the fixed improvements on it, such as buildings — completed by Jan. 1,1989. The question isn't just one of fairness, but constitutionality. Because the Kansas Constitution mandates "uniform and equal" taxation, a court-ordered reappraisal seemed imminent when lawmakers finally voted reappraisal into law. Saline County Appraiser Darrell Lemon is one person excited by the challenge. "This reappraisal business, it's brand new, it's terrifically complicated, it's a rush job," Lemon said. "We are, if not the leader, at least among the leaders in the state in getting., reappraisal on the road." Lemon outlined the process Saline County will follow: • Aerial photographs could be completed by the end of February. • Next, a photogrammetrist will develop the film negatives to create the most accurate depictions of the land. • By the end of May, the photogrammetrist's work could go to mappers. They'll spend about 1% years, until perhaps the end of 1987, making the aerial photographs into precisely detailed maps of the county. • Using the mappers' work, the business of appraising some 25,700 parcels of property will then begin. The goal is to deduce the fair market value of each parcel. For residential property, fair market value means the price a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller. Appraisers will look at the size of homes, type of construction, age, location and lot size. For farmland, "use value" will be used to derive fair market value. The land's income- producing potential will be used to set a value, to eliminate the influence of land speculation. Appraisers will look at the productivity of the land, the types of crops grown on it and the income and expenses associated with crop production over the past eight years. Appraisals are targeted for completion in mid-1988, giving taxpayers time to appeal before the new values go on tax rolls in 1989. The process is expected to cost millions statewide. Last year, lawmakers appropriated $2.25 million for the state's costs during the first year of reappraisal. Saline County commissioners originally thought they could get by with spending $750,000 for their expenses in the multi-year effort, but revised that estimate to $1.3 million. The big question with no definite answer remains: what will happen to taxes after reappraisal? Although it's impossible to predict how the tax bill may change for any one piece of property, the accompanying charts show what proportion of the tax base statewide each class of property would bear under two scenarios. One scenario would occur if a proposed constitutional amendment is passed by voters at this November's general election. That amendment would alter the Constitution's call for uniform and equal taxation of all types of property and would separate property into different classes. The amendment calls for the assessment of different types of property at different rates, to prevent massive shifts in the property tax burden on different types of property. If the amendment is approved, oil and gas| property, public utilities and industrial and commercial real property would be assessed for taxation at 30 percent of fair market value. All property currently is supposed to be assessed at 30 percent of fair market value, but the lack of current appraisals mean some property, in effect, is assessed and taxed at far lower rates. Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment would be assessed at 20 percent; residential property, at 12 percent; and agricultural land at 30 percent of the use value. Without passage of the classification amendment, the share of taxes coming from different types of property would shift dramatically, as charted. Agricultural land would account for twice the tax base that it now does. Residential property also would increase substantially in the amount of the tax base it makes up, while commercial Percent of tax base UNDER CURRENT SYSTEM and industrial property, oil and gas property and public utilities would make up much less of the tax base.
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