Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Letter to the editor: Views on turnpike exit

December 13, 2006

To the editor:

A lawsuit was filed by the city of Tonganoxie regarding the legality of a petition, circulated by concerned citizens, that dared to request a vote by the people questioning the commitment of city funds to a county road for the proposed turnpike interchange.

The city will receive about $230,251 annually from the countywide sales tax commencing January 2007. The city of Tonganoxie appears poised to funnel $100,000 annually from these proceeds to the CR 1 interchange project.

As the city residents who signed this petition are receiving summons, I can't help but wonder if it would not have been more forthright in April 2005, when the county voted on the sales tax, to have had a separate ballot question regarding the proposed interchange on CR 1. The interchange project was instead placed under the umbrella of providing funds to the county and the cities of the county for capital improvements, infrastructure, facilities, the purchase of equipment and debt reduction.

Nowhere in the ballot question was "interchange" mentioned. However, we have been told repeatedly if you voted for the sales tax you voted for the interchange.

At the very least the question might have stated, "One-third of the proceeds of this tax will go to the proposed CR 1 interchange and the remainder will go to other projects." This rather amorphous funding gets even more interesting when you get into cost estimates for the interchange project, which have changed significantly during the last two years and the county contribution to the project.

The county commission stated it would not put up more than $6 to $7 million for the project in October 2005. When officials lobbied for federal funding the contribution was a hard $7 million. It has now gone up to $8 million. Do I hear more? I do, however, agree with Commissioner Graeber who stated, "I am not willing to commit more than $8 million, it would break the faith of the people."

I have lived in Leavenworth County more than 50 years, and I must say this project and issue has shattered my belief in government by the people for the people. It has become obvious that in every community that proposes to do good, some do good mainly for themselves. In my mind, this turnpike interchange project is a stellar example of special interest politics.

Janice Bernhardt,
rural Tonganoxie.

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