The Hiawatha City Commission met on Monday evening, and heard a proposal from Rick Nobles of ExcellenceK12 following a recent branding survey.

Nobles said that 318 people completed the survey, and that the main takeaways from the answers received were that the most notable things about the town were the Halloween Frolic and the slow pace of life.

Nobles said his team could not find a way to stretch the idea of the Frolic into an all year concept, so they went with the second most common phrase used on the survey, which was “boring.” The firm’s pitch was aimed at couples and spending time focusing on each other, and will begin with advertisement locally, then stretch to larger towns like Topeka and St. Joseph, before moving outward to Kansas City and other larger areas. The first advertisement will read, “Like Disney World and, minus Disney and the World,” while ad number two will read, “Like the Grand Canyon, minus the Canyon and the Grand parts,” and ad number three will read, “Like Mall of America, minus the indoor rollercoaster and almost everything else.” All of the ads will end with, “Hiawatha, the most boring town you’ll ever love.” After the proposal, the Commission voted to move forward, agreeing to split a $7,500 bill with the Chamber, HFED and the school district, at a cost of $1,875 for ads throughout the rest of the year.

Earlier in the meeting, the commission voted to approve the 2020 budget for publication and set a Notice of Hearing for July 15. The proposed budget for 2020 is set at $8.1 million and calls for a slight increase in the property tax levy.

It contains an estimated tax rate of 53 mills, which is five-tenths of a mill increase over the 2019 budget. This will allow for an additional $1.2 million in property taxes.

The commission will vote on the budget following a public hearing at their July 15 meeting.

In other business:

The commission voted to approve entering into agreements with Crawford, Murphy and Tilly Engineering on three grant projects at the airport, including runway 10-28 edge lighting, T-Hangar taxilane pavement and runway 10-35 edge lighting and rotating beacon. This phase of the grants is for engineering only, and will be followed up by later phases. The Commission also voted to approve $.25 wage increase for the position of Office Assistant and agreed to award a bid for the Law Enforcement Center servers to the low bid received from Bachelor Controls at an amount of $13,500.

Water Superintendent Brad Scott updated the commission on the Miami Street project, and said that all major tie-ins had been completed at their current location, with just two minor jobs left, then the crew would keep moving west.

City Administrator Mike Nichols reminded everyone that the City fireworks would take place Wednesday night, and that the Historical Society would be holding an Ice Cream Social from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. that night.

Nichols also updated the commission on AHRS’s work on Miami Street, saying that the crews had poured another block of Miami Street and would continue moving down the street.

Mayor Collins spoke briefly about the budget, and also asked Nichols to bring a formal proposal for a resolution to begin the process of changing the quarter-cent post lantern sales tax into a recreation tax for the upcoming November election. If approved, the new tax would replace an existing quarter cent sales tax imposed for the historical post lantern street light project, which is set to expire March 31, 2020. The new sales tax, if approved by voters, would take effect April 1, 2020 and would allow the city to reduce its property tax levy.

The commission approved the Consent Agenda, which included an appropriation of $50,752.23, utility refunds of $294.73, payment of $9,750 to Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Engineering, payment of $32,266.65 to Arvest Equipment Finance, payment to Ray Lindsey Company in the amount of $9,619.44, a construction contractor’s license for ADS Distributing, an electrical license for Jake Hawk Electric LLC and a plumbing and mechanical license for Simmons Excavating LLC.

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