Council selects ’09 projects
On the table were eight projects slated to be finished in 2009.
But after a 90-minute special Tonganoxie City Council meeting Monday night, only half of them survived.
“It’s very tough, but you have to think of what is good for the citizens as far as the mill levy,” Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal said Tuesday. “We had to make some cuts. You want to see progress, but you have to think of what it’s going to do with (residents’) tax burdens.”
The four projects that were approved were: The third phase of road improvements on Fourth Street, $1.2 million; adding a pedestrian bridge and rehabilitation of the Fourth Street bridge, $153,000; replacement of the Pleasant Street bridge, $97,430; improvements to the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Main Street, $321,655.
The project costs for the Pleasant Street bridge and the improvements to U.S. 24-40 and Main Street are the city’s 20 percent portion of the total cost of the projects. The Kansas Department of Transportation is expected to pay for the other 80 percent of those projects.
The other projects that will have to be saved for the future are the first phase of improvements on East Street, improvements on Second and Cox streets, improvements on Church Street and an upgraded fire station.
During the meeting different permutations of street projects were addressed and their financial impact was totaled on a spreadsheet that was projected on a board for the entire group to see.
Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator, totaled up the cost for all projects and estimated what kind of debt service the residents of Tonganoxie would have for next year’s budget. With the approved projects, she estimated in a “worst-case scenario” the city would have to raise the mill levy by 3 mills. In a best-case scenario, the city might be able to break even and not have to raise any taxes.
Bard said several factors contributed to the numbers she estimated, including reduced amount of sales tax revenue, reduced amount of funds from the state and a lower than average valuation increase in the city.
“We’re not gushing blood, but we’ve taken a couple of razorblade nicks,” Yanez said about the city’s tax revenues.
A couple of factors could save taxpayers money.
Tax revenues may not be as low as Bard estimated, which could help offset a mill increase.
There could also be significant savings in the actual construction of the projects.
Brian Kingsley of BG Consultants, the city’s engineering firm, said there could be some cost savings because engineering estimates could be 20 percent higher than what it goes out for bid.
Other cuts included eliminating the car budgeted for the city administrator and possibly never replacing the gazebo at the Tonganoxie Water Park.
Butch Rodgers, city superintendent, said the council should consider eliminating the gazebo because of space restrictions.
“There is really not room for a gazebo,” Rodgers said. “We have three picnic tables that have been donated that we need to set around that structure.
“It’s already going to be hard for us to get the picnic tables in that limited areas that we have.”
Yanez said that the city will apply this week for some of the $11 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act money KDOT has for District 1, which includes Leavenworth County, to pay for the Pleasant Street bridge replacement.
If the city is granted money, Yanez said it will proceed with the project and if not, the council may consider holding off for another year and continue to inspect the bridge until funding from KDOT becomes available.
Kingsley said the bridge, which was temporarily repaired in 2007, could last the city from five to seven years and possibly even longer if properly inspected and maintained.
In other business the council:
• Met in two executive session for a total of 45 minutes to discuss attorney client privilege with Yanez, Bard, Mike Kelly, city attorney, and Gary Hanson of Stumbo Hanson L.L.P. The council took no action after the executive session, but then unanimously voted to contract Hanson for legal services.