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Committee recommends retainment of Buxton for retail report

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 12:22 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 12:23 p.m. CDT

The Newton City Council’s Finance and Procurement Committee met Wednesday night to discuss the future of the city’s financial development, both publicly and privately.

The committee, made up of council members Craig Trotter, Evelyn George and Steve Mullan, discussed the retainment of Buxton Company. The committee recommended to bring the issue to the city council. City Administrator Bob Knabel said he could have a contract to present to the council at the Sept. 16 council meeting.

Buxton, a company that specializes in reports to municipalities about their retail environment, has helped cities like Indianola bring retailers and capture customers from outside markets.

“They had 120 to 130 specific companies that they were given by Buxton to fit Indianola,” Knabel said.

Knabel said the company would use already-public data to compile a unique report focused on Newton. He said they would spend very little time in the community and data would be available to the city 10 days after they begin their work with a full report available after 45 days.

“It is that kind of effort that they have in place that allows them to serve communities like Newton,” Knabel said.

If passed at the Sept. 16 council meeting, the report alone would cost $65,000. The city would then need to spend more funds to implement the suggestions in the report and act on the information given by Buxton.

“Once we get that 45-day report in, we need to be doing something with that,” Knabel said.

Implementation would cost $45,000, something Knabel said is vital to the plan.

“If we’re going to make the investment on the report we should make the investment on implementation,” Knabel said.

George said the report would give the city more information on how the retail environment has changed in Newton.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” George said, “and our community has changed so much and the people here have changed so much.”

Knabel reported Buxton has worked with several hundred communities and many council members were impressed by their credibility as reported by Knabel, Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darrell Sarmento and Newton Development Corporation Executive Director Frank Liebl, who all visited Indianola to see the implementation of Buxton’s report.

“It’s just a wise investment in ourselves,” Mullan said.

The committee also discussed the proposed one-time expenditures for the city’s surplus. The committee recommended that most of the expenditures be brought to the council to vote on at the Tuesday night, Sept. 3, regular meeting, except for those pertaining to renovations to Newton City Hall exteriors and the council chambers.

“If we’re smart, we’ll take care of our infrastructure and have the best we can afford no matter what,”  Mullan said.

Knabel encouraged the council to keep an open mind to exterior renovations, since the exterior of city hall reflects on the community. He also said later in the year there may be a more detailed plan for such renovations.

“Like I said, when it comes time to renovate, at least we’ll have that money,” Trotter said.

Staff writer Dave Hon may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at dhon@newtondailynews.com.

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