Letter To The Editor: Kingman | Don’t give up on downtown and move forward with the improvement project

Published by The Bee News

January 23, 2023

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Good Afternoon City Council Members,

I’m writing this email regarding the city’s 2023 capital allocation plans, repeal of prop 415, and the possible cancelation of the downtown improvement project. I’m one of the owners and cofounders of Sea Dog Merchants located at 211 East Beale.

My family and I moved here in 2018 from Southern California, we were drawn to the weather, small town feel and the political climate of Kingman. We are avid history buffs and were surprised at the lack of development in downtown given all the history that Kingman has to offer. Over the course of the last 4 years, we have purchased two commercial properties on Beale Street and spent a significant amount of our personal savings to both revitalize and bring these locations back to what they once were. In 2019 we applied for and were awarded roughly $2000 from the city of Kingman via the façade improvement program and used those funds to add lighting to our storefront which in turn has provided sidewalk lighting that did not exist before.

When I heard about the downtown improvement project, I was excited to see what was being planned. I have followed the budgeting and design process closely. Any time there was a surveying crew, or a traffic study was being done I paid close attention knowing it was going to bring about much needed change downtown.

In the four years we have been here we have seen downtown come to life. From the ever-expanding business mix, the renovation of the Beale Street Theater, the renovation of the building that now houses the Chamber, and the recently announced location of the expanded electric car museum just to name a few. All these investments both private and public bring additional tourism to downtown and ultimately additional tax revenue for the city.

I’m also very aware of what is taking place throughout the rest of the city and the lack of funds to fix, upgrade, and maintain our roads. I’m also compassionate to the fact that this affects every resident within the city. While I’m aware this is an ongoing issue, the repeal of prop 415 brought this forward as a much larger issue. I’m a fiscally conservative republican and agree with tax increases when they go towards their intended use. The public at large is very skeptical of how funds are used within city government and Kingman is no different. I feel there was a large miss on the city’s part by not educating our residents on the goal of prop 415. You can see this in numerous social media posts and news articles where the feeling was that the funds would not be used for street improvement. As a result of this repeal, it seems the city is looking to take funds from other budgeted and approved projects to support fixing our roads.

I have read the 2023 adopted budget in its entirety. When looking at the capital allocation / investments for 2023 I tried to categorize investments that were revenue generating vs non-revenue generating. Additionally, I excluded investments in public health and life/safety. There are several other investments that could possibly be deferred that are non-revenue generating in effort to divert funds to pavement preservation

Can we not look to other areas to help fund road maintenance and repair until the next election cycle? Could we then look to invest funds and educate the public on why a proposition to slightly increase tax revenue would be strictly dedicated to improving our road network?

The investment in downtown will not only attract more visitors but will also generate additional tax revenue for years to come. The advantage to this investment over others is that the additional tax revenue will come from both individuals outside of Kingman as well as our current residents.

I ask that you don’t give up on downtown and move forward with the improvement project. Make downtown Kingman the true destination it was always meant to be for current and future generations.

Thank you for your time,

Frank Nieman

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