By BECKY KISER
Outside agency requests for funding next year from the city of Hays total almost $26,000 more than what was allotted in 2023.
Only the three quality-of-life groups are asking for more dollars, with the Ellis County Historical Society requesting the biggest increase.
"We're a want. We're a luxury," said Amanda Rupp, executive director. "What do you want to see downtown?"
She was one of the representatives of non-profit groups appearing before the Hays city commission during last week's work session to request funding from the city in 2024.
Rupp, hired as the new permanent director last summer, after several years without one, first thanked the commission for its support and "taking a chance in upping our request last year."
"I was really hard on this organization a couple of years ago," said Vice-Mayor Sandy Jacobs. "We believed in you and this [turnaround] could happen.
"There's a plan for your organization and you didn't have that before."
The society also has a new board, which voted to fix mold problems in the historical church that houses most of the museum collections and to make improvements to the building.
During the years there was no full-time permanent director and no action plan for the historical society, the city cut its funding drastically, from $12,000 to $3,000 for two consecutive years.
Last year, the amount was increased dramatically to $21,116, and this year the society is asking for double that amount — $42,232.
The historical society also has requested a large funding increase of $75,000 to a total of $175,00 from Ellis County.
Rupp also reviewed the many improvements the museum has made and plans for future projects.
Mayor Shaun Musil cautioned Rupp and the other agency representatives that provide social services and economic development to the city that "the five of us have to make tough decisions and we have a budget for the entire community." He also thanked Rupp for her passion.
Also requesting slight funding increases are the Hays Art Council and the Wild West Festival.
Groups whose requests remain the same as last year are Fort Hays State University's City of Hays Scholarship Program, Grow Hays and the CARE Council, which funds nine non-profit social services.
The request from the Downtown Hays Development Corporation is $6,000 less than last year. Julie Rider, executive director, told commissions DHDC has been able to take advantage of grants and internships for part-time office help.
The commission will discuss the requests during 2024 budget work.
In other business, the commission:
• Declined the request for two reserved parking spaces in front of the soon-to-open First Care Clinic Pharmacy on Main Street.
• Heard an ordinance and resolution to authorize $455,000 in general obligation bonds for the King's Gate 2nd Addition special assessment district.
• Reviewed the city's property/liability insurance coverage renewal with Midwest Public Risk through Insurance Planning, Hays. The premium is expected to increase about 20 percent to $349,930 because of overall losses for Midwest Public Risk.
• Reviewed a proposed award of bid of $78,830 from Midwest Bio-Systems, Inc., Tampico, Ill., for a new solid waste compost turner.