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Supporting downtown Bonner

The Bonner Springs City Council discussed a few items related to downtown at their 2014 budget meeting earlier this week:

The Bonner Springs City Council discussed a few items related to downtown at their 2014 budget meeting earlier this week:

• The council got into a discussion about the city’s contribution to the Bonner Blast Fireworks Display, which comes from the Convention and Tourism Committee budget and this year was budgeted at $1,000. Downtown Bonner, Inc. came to the city three weeks before this year’s display to ask that they contribute an additional $1,000. The city did so, at the expense of purchasing some decorative banners for the downtown area. Council members agreed that the city’s contribution next year should remain at a firm $1,000. “I would rather send the money on stuff that’s going to promote downtown… day after day after day versus one night,” Councilman Tom Stephens said. Councilman Bob Reeves wondered if area merchants were contributing less because one night of fireworks didn’t really help their businesses. Others said they knew that the fireworks display promoted the city in general, but it was hard to measure the exact benefit. Councilman Rodger Shannon said he didn’t want to imply that DBI didn’t work hard to raise funds for the display, but he thought the organization needed to start its fundraising earlier in the year and look at alternative methods of fundraising.

• The above topic lead to a discussion of how the city promotes and supports downtown businesses. Councilwoman Racheal Haas said she was frustrated by the number of small businesses that opened downtown but closed less than a year later, and she asked if there was any more that the city could do to help those businesses. John “Jack” Helin reminded the council that the city offers the Retail Attraction and Retention Incentive specifically for new, small businesses. Marcia Harrington, community and economic development director, said she meets with all new businesses to discuss their business plan and the necessity of having the proper capital and marketing. She also gives them information about the free programs offered through the Kansas Small Business Development Center, but she said it is up to the businesses to follow through with this help. Haas asked if the city could make using the KSBDC program a requirement to receive the city’s small business incentives. “It’s like, we’re going to help you, but you need to help yourself, too,” she said. Helin said the council could consider making it a requirement of the incentive, but he thought businesses might view it as too big of a hurdle.

• Trash pickup costs will increase by $1.56 a month next year for Bonner Springs residents. The city participates in the contract with Deffenbaugh Industries negotiated through the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan. The UG’s new contract increases the monthly price from $11.82 to $13.38.

• June was a record-breaking month for the Bonner Springs City Library, with 18,381 items checked out.

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