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Hutchinson City Council Notes: Council Approves APRA Funds for Childcare Projects

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The Hutchinson City County Tuesday approved a contract with United Way of Reno County in connection with the nearly $1.8 million of ARPA funds the city committed last year for childcare projects. This will be combined with the $4.5 million being allocated by Reno County.

The city funds will primarily be earmarked for development of innovative models such as a childcare co-op that would allow providers access to such things as health insurance and retirement benefits, training and the experimentation with shared services, business partnerships, and others.

There was a considerable discussion among the Council regarding sustainability of programs once the ARPA funding is gone.

Fire Department Funds

The Council also approved an ARPA agreement with Reno County related to funding allocated to the Hutchinson Fire Department.

A year ago, Reno County agreed to cover half of the cost, up to a maximum county obligation of $440 thousand, for purchase of three brush trucks and upgrades to existing brush units along with purchase of wildland personal protective equipment and hose replacements. About half of the of the total funds allocated have been expended and orders have been placed for the remainder.

Community Improvement District

Following a public hearing, the Council approved creation of a Community Improvement District for the new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and Conference Center being built by Amber Hotel LLC on Waldron St just off 17th Ave.

The CID will allow for collection of an additional two percent sales tax by businesses in the district, which is confined to the property being developed, with those funds used to pay for specified costs of the project. The CID will remain in place for up to 22 years, or once $18 million is collected. Those funds will be paid to the city which will reimburse Amber Hotel for eligible expenses.

Bond Sale

On a 4-1 vote the Council approved the first step related to a bond sale planned later this year. This involves an ordinance authorizing four projects, which allows the city to pay for certain expenses such as architectural and engineering fees.

The projects include a bike park and other amenities at Harsha Park, new playground equipment and related items to replace existing equipment for Bunte and Grandview Parks, and replacement of a chiller on the City Hall HVAC system.

The no vote came from Council member Greg Fast, who felt the bike park project was one that should not be pursued at this time due to the current economic situation in Hutchinson. The actual issuance of bonds will take place later this year when costs are finalized for other, larger projects in the works.

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