The committee, which includes Herington City commissioner Fred Olsen, city manager Ron Strickland, HMH Board of Trustees member Wally Salonka and hospital chief financial officer Pat Moyer, was established during the regular city commission meeting Tuesday.
Additional persons may be appointed to the committee, it was noted.
Formation of the committee follows a recent announcement by officials from a Kansas City, Mo.,-based firm that the company was not interested in purchasing or leasing the hospital in Herington.
There also was renewed discussion concerning the possible establishment of a hospital-taxing district. Previously, city commissioners and hospital board members had considered including several townships in southeastern Dickinson County in a district, with residents paying additional taxes to help support the healthcare facility. However, the estimated amount of money to be accrued was only $17,000.
Gene Lorson of Hope also spoke about HMH during a public forum portion of the meeting. He said Herington and the surrounding area would suffer if the hospital closed.
Lorson said he had offered to help make improvements, such as grab bars at various locations in the hospital, but had been turned down by HMH CEO Jim Murphy.
Murphy had cited liability concerns, Lorson said.
The status of the Logan Pointe residential housing development, which was established by Iron Horse Development, LLC, also was discussed during Tuesday’s meeting. Herington native Ross Boelling of Tonganoxie, an IHD managing partner, spoke to the commission two week ago.
City Manager Strickland urged the commission to be more aggressive in efforts to encourage contractors to build houses in the addition. Currently, there are only two homes.
He asked commissioners to consider two options: On new lots with special assessments for repayment of infrastructure improvements, either abate taxes or specials, or abate taxes on existing lots with no specials on construction or improvements of more than $20,000.
Strickland said Logan Pointe has the potential to generate $4.2 million in property taxes annually, if all 28 lots are developed and each new home has an average appraisal of at least $150,000.
(See: Herington budget, page 10)
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Commissioners did not act on Strickland’s suggestions.
In positive financial news, the commission approved 2012 budget listing a tax levy of 65.679 mills, which is 4.467 mills less than this year. A mill in Herington raises slightly more than $1,858.