Archive for Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cities could get recovery funds

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

September 9, 2009

Leavenworth County cities looking for a less expensive way to pay for some local projects or economic development just received a new source of money.

On Thursday, the Leavenworth County Commissioners unanimously voted to tell the state they were interested in about $9 million available in bond money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment act.

“This is not a $9 million windfall,” Commissioner John Flower said during the meeting “This is not something that we or other cities could do today, it’s just that this has a little bit of a tickler.”

The commission voted to write a letter to the Kansas Department of Commerce to express its interest in the money and to write letters to the municipalities in the county to inform them of the available funds.

Out of the approximate $9 million in bonds available, about $3.6 million will be available for recovery zone economic development and $5.5 million for recovery zone facility bonds.

In a letter sent to the commissioners, the Kansas Department of Commerce partly defined a recovery zone as an area designated by the issuer as having significant poverty, unemployment, rate of home foreclosures or general distress.

The facility bonds are a tax-exempt bond “designed to finance property that is used by a private business,” while the economic development bonds are taxable and can be used to “finance capital and working capital expenditures that promote development of other economic activity in a recovery zone.” The economic development bonds can also be used for public infrastructure, construction of public facilities, money spent for job training and education.

County counselor David Van Parys said because the county expressed no interest in using any of the bond money itself, it could authorize the other municipalities in the county the use of the bond money.

When asked if the county would have any liability if another entity proceeded to get a bond, Van Parys said the liability would be with the other city, not the county.

“The county will never allocate funds. It will merely allocate authorization,” he said.

The commissioner will write a letter to the other municipalities, informing them of the available money and of a fee the county will charge associated with getting the bond.

The commissioners also hope that once city leaders know about the money, they can start to get a clearer picture about what kind of interest there would be in this program.

“If we have $14 million worth or requests and only $9 million available, then we have a problem,” Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said. “Then we’ll have to work out if we do the LCDC model, which has the highest priority... we’ll have to figure it out.”

Scott Miller, city manager for Leavenworth, wrote a letter to the commission expressing Leavenworth’s interest in the bond money. On Tuesday, Mike Yanez, city administrator, said city staff was looking into the bond money to be used to develop a 237-acre industrial park.

Both Miller and Yanez attended Thursday’s commission meeting.

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