Archive for Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Council agrees meeting with school board needed regarding bond issue

October 13, 2010

As the first step toward a possible joint meeting with the school board, the Tonganoxie City Council instructed city staff to prepare a list of infrastructure needs a successful USD 464 bond issue would require and its impact on the city.

Discussion for the need for a dialogue with the school district developed when City Administrator Mike Yanez informed the council of an opportunity to secure Kansas Department of Transportation funding for improvements to intersections in managed corridors, such as U.S. Highway 24/40 in Tonganoxie. One of the intersections on the highway eligible for such funds was that of a future 14th Street, he said.

The district is looking at an April 2011 bond referendum, which would include a new elementary school on the district’s southeast campus that is now home to Tonganoxie Middle School.

City Clerk Kathy Bard said planning and zoning issues would require 14th Street be constructed from southeast campus to the highway if a middle school were to be built on the site.

Should 14th Street be extended to the highway from the east, it was envisioned the intersection would require turn lanes and acceleration and slow-down lanes, Yanez said. The estimated cost of constructing the intersection is $922,000, or less than the $1 million maximum re-imbursement KDOT would supply for projects selected for the program, the city administrator said.

But the city would have to pay for the intersections engineering, right of way acquisition and utility relocation, which has an estimated price tag of $230,000, Yanez said.

The KDOT project application deadline is Nov. 1. That deadline coupled with the proposed April bond referendum made for awkward timing, Yanez admitted.

It was too awkward for the council members who said there would be no need for the intersection without the new elementary school.

“I understand Mike’s dilemma,” Councilman Bill Peak said. “But if the school district bond doesn’t pass, you have a dead end on a road to nowhere.”

They were further concerned about the $2 million estimated cost of constructing 14th Street from the school campus to the highway.

Yanez said he had thought a benefit district would be formed to finance the 14th Street project and that the school district would be a participant in the district.

With a number of open questions, Councilman Jim Truesdell suggested a joint meeting of the council and school board was needed to clarify the needs and expectations of both bodies.

Although there was general consensus on the need for such a meeting, Mayor Jason Ward said the city first needed to do its homework. At his suggestion, Yanez was instructed to develop a list of the infrastructure needs a successful bond issue would require and their impact on the city.

As for the KDOT application, it was agreed no action would be taken.

“I think it’s unlikely KDOT would approve the intersection without a road,” Ward said. “Right now, that’s highly speculative. I don’t think we’re anywhere near that.”

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