Winter storm nixes city commission meeting
At the last minute, at 4:30 p.m. Monday, it was determined Tuesday's Shawnee City Commission meeting would not go on as planned. Because of the Presidents Day holiday Monday, Shawnee City Commissioners were slated to meet Tuesday, but winter storms causing frigid temperatures stopped that plan cold in its snowy tracks.
According to the agenda, Shawnee Forward was seeking an audience with commissioners to request funding again for a second time to come to the aid of small businesses. In December the board gave $50,000 in Cares Act funds to the program, as did Pottawatomie County Commissioners, and the City of Tecumseh gave $5,000. Now Shawnee Forward is hoping to secure enough funds to provide grants for the remaining 33 applicants that missed out on the money the first time. Pottawatomie County commissioners have said they are willing to offer another $50,000 — if Shawnee and/or Tecumseh will pony up the other $28,000 still needed.
In another agenda item, City Treasurer and Finance Director Ashley Neel is requesting an ordinance to amend the definition of a permanent resident as it affects occupancy surcharges.
“Regarding the exemption for long-term occupants, under current code, the surcharge is not assessed where an occupant rents the room for a period in excess of 30 days,” Neel's agenda memo reads. “Beginning with the 2014 Hotel/Motel Tax Consulting Project, Crawford & Associates has repeatedly advised the city to clarify how this exemption works in operation.”
Under the proposed amendments, the 30 days is counted one of two ways, number of days stayed, or number of days booked.
If an individual has resided in a room for at least 30 days without interruption, they are exempt from the occupancy surcharge and are entitled to the exemption retroactively to the first day of residency.
If an individual has booked a room for at least 30 days, they are also exempt from the occupancy surcharge.
“A stay is defined as continuous,” she said. “Any break disqualifies the individual from being considered a permanent resident.”
She also said there has been some confusion regarding the calculation of late charges on past due payments.
“At this moment, the ordinance states payments are due on the first of the month following collection, but will not be counted as late until after the 20th of that month,” she said. “It then goes on to state that the penalty is 10 percent unless the payment is paid more than 30 days after the due date. If paid more than 30 days after the due date, the penalty switches to 25 percent.”
The language has caused more than one hotel operator to pay the incorrect amount, assuming it meant 30 days from the 20th, not the first, she said.
“The amendment clarifies when the 10 percent and 25 percent penalties apply,” Neel said. “These changes will not increase the penalties assessed or shorten the timeframe but only reflect current operations.”
In other business, City Commissioners may soon take action on a few requests:
• on-street parking on the proposed Red Bird Road;
• public improvements for the proposed Cedar Ridge Addition; and
• approval of a preliminary plat for Cedar Ridge Addition, a 13.49-acre tract approximately 1,100 feet east of Harrison Avenue on the north side of East 39th Street
In a housekeeping item, the board was set to consider approval of an amendment to the Future Land Use Map of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan to reallocate 15 acres of low-density residential to high-density residential.
Commissioners also may consider an agreement with South Central Industries, Inc. for trash removal services at 23 municipal park locations, and janitorial services at three municipal park locations.
Watch for updates on when the meeting will be rescheduled, as well as any additions or changes to the agenda.
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