The Hays City Commission at its weekly Thursday work session again expressed a mix of opinions on continuing funding for the Downtown Hays Development Corp.
The commissioners discussed the funding of $53,655 annually as part of a brief discussion on the city’s proposed 2019 budget.
“I really think it’s time for the little bird to get out of the nest,” said Henry Schwaller IV, noting that the city’s financial support for the DHDC was always intended to be temporary, although each year the commission continues it.
Newly appointed Commissioner Ron Mellick agreed, saying it’s like continuing to pay your married grown child’s cell phone bill.
“We’ve talked in the past about decreasing it 10 percent each year, but we never follow through,” Mellick said. “I think tough love is going to have to appear.”
Schwaller and Mellick both said they wouldn’t want the money cut this year, but rather with the 2020 budget.
Noting he’s a downtown business owner, however, Commissioner Shaun Musil said he sees the benefit of the DHDC to the entire city. The DHDC’s events and promotions draw visitors that benefit the city’s motels, restaurants and other businesses, he said.
“It’s one of the best volunteer groups in our community,” Musil said, noting a downturn in downtown visitors could decrease the city’s sales tax receipts.
Commissioner Sandy Jacobs, who attended the meeting via speakerphone conference call, said she’s not opposed to funding the DHDC as long as they provide data to support their value to the city.
“I’m going to continue supporting funding,” Jacobs said.
Speaking in support of the funding was Melissa Dixon, executive director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau. The CVB, she said, supports and promotes DHDC events.
“There is a lot of heavy lifting by DHDC,” Dixon said. “I believe it’s money well spent.”