Council members discuss special tax plan, a new AT&T tower, and residency requirement

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On Tuesday night city council gathered to discuss a special tax plan, new AT&T towers, and a residency requirement.

City council members are moving forward with a plan for a special tax that’ll be used to renovate a shopping center. At the meeting, the council approved a proposal to make the shopping center a “community improvement district.”

That means there would be an additional 1% sales tax at those stores to eventually pay off the investments put into the project.

Councilmembers also decided some new cell phone towers will be going up in downtown Topeka. They approved those plans to allow AT&T to put the towers up on southwest Taylor street.

Last month the council approved two other locations on southeast 29th street and south-west Fairlawn road.

Earlier this year people in the city were concerned about the towers going up. They went before the city’s planning commission to voice their concerns about the towers giving out radiation and driving down property values.

The commission held hearings to discuss each of the three locations, eventually sending the issue to the council.

The council also decided city employees do have to live in Shawnee County.

That’s the current rule, but some discussions recently came up to remove it. There are about a thousand employees who fall under that requirement, including the police and fire departments.

Police Chief Bill Cochran told us the rule is actually hurting police recruitment.

Tonight the council voted to keep the rule in place. Michael Padilla is a councilmember who supports the rule. 

“I don’t think it’s doing us any service by saying you can work for us, you can take advantage of everything that we have, you can have the benefits of our tax base, but you don’t have to stay in Shawnee County,” Padilla said. “I think that sends the wrong message. I think that some of the comments made where they say they think they are settling with less qualified people, I take that as a personal affront.”

The council also recognized retiring Kansas National Guard Colonel Jarrod Frantz. Frantz has served as commander of the 190th Air Refueling Wing since April of 2015.

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