County official favors vote on road plan
It's possible Leavenworth County voters will be asked to approve a $90 million road proposal in November.
The county's planning and zoning director on Thursday will ask Leavenworth County commissioners whether they'd like to include the proposal on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.
It's not clear whether the county legally can ask voters to approve such a proposal, which would require a tax increase of about 9 mills. Linda Scheer, county clerk, said she still is investigating whether she can place the matter on the ballot.
Commissioners will discuss the issue at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
If the issue is placed on the ballot, several information meetings will be conducted. If commissioners determine the issue cannot be on the ballot, a series of public hearings will be held to gather comments on the proposal.
For the past several years, county officials have worked to devise a 20-year plan to upgrade roads throughout Leavenworth County. They've come up with a plan to increase the number of paved roads in the county, but financing remains a question.
"We looked at all the roads in the county," said John Zoellner, the county's planning and zoning director. "We went out and surveyed all of them. We looked at all the costs involved."
The plan would be broken down into four five-year increments. The $90 million price tag is only an estimate, Zoellner said.
"That's a substantial amount of money," he said. "One of the things that was very important is that there would be no subsidy of one part of the county for another part of the county."
That concept - for example, Leavenworth city residents wouldn't pay for road work near Reno - is key to voters approving the issue, Zoellner said. County officials can tell where the tax dollars are coming from and then apply that money to those areas, he said.
"The city of Leavenworth would generate the most amount of money," Zoellner said. "The money would not be used to do areas like Easton or Tonganoxie or someplace else. People would not be subsidizing someplace else."
Obviously, some areas of the county would need additional funds, simply because their population base is not large enough to finance large road projects, Zoellner said.
Concerning Tonganoxie road improvements, the plan states that U.S. Highway 24-40 should be improved between Tonganoxie and Lawrence.
"This improvement should be done as part of the state's System Enhancement Program," the plan says.
In addition, it outlines the possibility of a bypass of Tonganoxie on the south and east sides of the city and a connection to the Kansas Turnpike.