Lyon County Commissioners, City of Emporia officials and representatives of local emergency agencies met for a joint city/county luncheon Wednesday in the Lyon County Courthouse.
City Planning and Zoning Officer Joe Foster took the opportunity to announce he and County Planning and Zoning Officer Sam Seeley would be releasing the second draft of the updated joint community zoning regulations by Oct. 22.
In addition to being made available for download at lyoncounty.org, Foster said there would also be a series of free public workshops for those wishing to learn more about the changes. The first will surround agriculture and be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Lyon County Annex, 402 Commercial St., and will be followed by industrial and commercial workshops taking place at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 and 21 at the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce, 719 Commercial St. The series will wrap up with a seminar on residential zoning at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 in the Civic Building at 516 Mechanic St. The workshops — and resulting public input — will be compiled for use in the writing of the final zoning regulations draft later this year.
“We want the general public to show up to the workshops and express any thoughts or concerns they might have...” Foster said. “We felt like [the workshops] were appropriate to help us capture input on some of the major hot topics.”
Another major topic of discussion was the renewal of a 1 percent, countywide sales tax which could come to vote as early as next year.
“About 10 or 12 years ago, the county proposed to the public a 1 percent sales tax on all the sales in the county, and it did pass,” County Commissioner Rollie Martin said. “The first one was for a three-year term, and I think the goal of that was mainly to help reduce property tax. Probably six or seven years ago, we renewed it, presented it to the public about extending it for 10 years, and that was passed by the people in the county as well. The highlight of that one was it was to be used for capital outlay.
“We’re possibly looking at next year during one of the election cycles to present a renewal to the people again. What we’re going to do in the meantime is mainly collect information from each of the cities to see what they’ve used [past tax money] for and how it affects their budget on some of the projects that they’ve done with that money. Having the tax for the past 10 years has provided the county a great means for capital outlay, for your sheriff’s cars, for your Road and Bridge Department equipment, and various other things the tax does for capital improvement.”
City officials reported many of the same benefits of the tax, and agreed it would be beneficial to figure the total added revenue for the county’s smaller towns in order to garner added support for a future vote. Sales tax revenue is split between county municipalities according to statutes in Kansas law that take population into consideration, but county commissioners can somewhat redistribute funds according to specific needs if approved by the state or by separate vote.
“This is another area where I would suggest we form a committee to begin a discussion between the two governing bodies and the organizations,” City Commissioner Rob Gilligan said. “This is one where we both want to collect data and also start the makings of a campaign committee that would relay that information as well.”