Daily Archives: Oct. 18, 2011

People left hanging by Efficiency Kansas program may get loans

TOPEKA — About 150 people who were left hanging this summer after the state redirected federal stimulus money from a home energy efficiency program to other projects may get loans for home projects after all. But the bulk of money initially intended for home efficiency projects will go to energy companies for three bio-methane projects.

The Kansas Corporation Commission and Department of Commerce told the Joint Committee on Energy and Environmental Policy Tuesday that they have requested that the Department of Energy let them spend $1.5 million to complete the energy efficiency projects that auditors identified for them.

If approved, the state will notify auditors and make sure customers still want to complete their energy efficiency projects before ensuring lenders and utility companies make quick payments so people can get their projects completed.

Efficiency Kansas offered low-interest loans through partnering banks and utilities for work auditors identified as energy-saving projects. Only 13 people took out loans within the first six months because of complicated nature of the program and banks requiring second mortgages, all at a time of financial uncertainty.  By the end of 2010, the KCC reported the program had resulted in 137 loans for about $935,000. Read More »

Bill Gale resigns; Sedgwick County to get new election commissioner

Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale today announced his resignation from the office he has held for the past eight years.

In a statement, Gale said he is giving up the job overseeing the election office to take a position with a nonprofit organization.

Gale resigned in a letter to Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

“A number of reasons factored into the decision,” the letter said. “One of the main ones for me is my thinking that 8 years is a good self-imposed limit on my tenure.”

Gale served eight years on the Wichita City Council before being appointed election commissioner.

Wichita approves subsidy to bring jobs from Oklahoma

Wichita may have lost Coleman Co.’s headquarters to Colorado, but the City Council today took a step toward bringing in 182 jobs from a successor company’s factory in Oklahoma.

The council approved a $42,500 forgivable loan to Johnson Controls, an international heating and air conditioning company that makes Coleman-branded products.

Sedgwick County is expected to provide an equal amount to the company to help it move jobs to Wichita. The County Commission vote is scheduled for late this month or early next month, officials said.

The money will be part of a $1.2 million subsidy package to assist Johnson’s Unitary Products Division in relocating manufacturing work from Norman, Okla. The company now employs about 1,050 full- and part-time workers at facilities in Wichita and Maize.

Johnson acquired Coleman’s heating and air conditioning business during the 1990s and continues to manufacture and market products under the Coleman name. Coleman announced last week that it is pulling 25 key executives from Wichita and relocating them to Denver, essentially moving the corporate headquarters leadership out of the city for the second time in its history.

About $1.1 million of the package to Johnson will come from training grants and sales- and income-tax exemptions offered by the state Department of Commerce.

Two free-market advocates, who regularly object to business-development incentives on ideological grounds, criticized the package. Read More »