Those who want to donate money or other resources toward cultural, environmental or other unmet needs within Olathe may soon have a new way to do it.
The City Council on Tuesday considered a proposal to create the Olathe Community Foundation, an appointed board that would raise funds and then use the money for services or projects that supplement regular city operations and “promote cultural, educational, recreational, artistic, charitable and environmental activities.”
All contributions to the foundation would be tax exempt.
Olathe already has foundation boards that oversee the Mahaffie Stagecoach and Farm as well as the city’s park system. The new foundation would operate separately from those.
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“This gives us the ability to have a broader range of investment potential,” City Manager J. Michael Wilkes told the council. “There may be somebody that is interested in Mahaffie that you could do a long-term estate-type investment, which would be fine. But you may have somebody else who is not necessarily interested in doing something with Mahaffie but would like to do something for the community at-large. This would be a vehicle for that to happen.”
The foundation actually would operate under the umbrella of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which would take the funds raised by the Olathe group and invest them in a separate fund. The Olathe foundation would advise on how the money is invested as well as request how the money is spent.
Some council members said they wanted more information on how that relationship would work. For example, Mayor Michael Copeland said he could foresee difficulty finding appointees for the board if they knew they had to make investment decisions.
“We need to look at that and then decide if we want our volunteer board with this responsibility,” Copeland said.
A final vote on the foundation is expected for the council’s Feb. 6 meeting.
In other business, the council voted to approve issuing $36 million in industrial revenue bonds for commercial projects attached to the Olathe Soccer Complex planned for the southwest corner of Kansas 10 and South Ridgeview Road.
While the bonds, also known as IRBs, are issued by the city, the developers are responsible for paying them off and city taxpayers share no obligation. Developers often seek the bonds through local governments to gain tax and interest benefits.
Of the $36 million, $16 million will go to OSC LLC, which is developing retail and office space adjacent to the existing Ridgeview Marketplace shopping center, and $20 million will go to MoKan Hospitality LLC, which is developing two hotels on the site.
The combined $36 million exceeds the $28.6 million pledged by the city in August, which officials said resulted from additional expected capital investment.
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