Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2011

County’s help sought for CR-1 park

December 7, 2011

The Tonganoxie City Council agreed Monday to request the Leavenworth County Commission help pay for an estimated $700,000 in improvements to the road leading to its undeveloped industrial park.

The vote came five days after the Leavenworth County Port Authority agreed to provide from $200,000 to $260,000 to extend a gas line to park. The request was added late last week to the agenda the council scheduled for Monday to discuss firms considered for the city administrator search.

The road upgrade to 0.7 of a mile of 222nd Street and gas line extension were among the nearly $2 million in infrastructure improvements identified in a report released in September, which when completed would make 40 acres of the 237-acre site south of Tonganoxie shovel ready for one or two tenants.

Although the resolution instructing Mayor Jason Ward write the letter only asked the county help with the road, discussion before the vote indicated council members hoped the county would pay for all the needed improvements to what is a county road and that the work at least be to the specifications spelled out in the September study.

Ward told the council he would call county commissioners about the request Tuesday and mail the formal request that same day.

City Councilman Chris Donnelly, Ward and City Administrator Mike Yanez met with the county commission last month, informing them of the study and of an intention to ask them to partner in the development costs. At that time, commissioners were generally favorable of such a request.

Donnelly said commissioners recognized the county would benefit from development at the park, as would the city.

Adding a county commitment to fully fund the road improvements with the Port Authority’s commitment would leave the city on the hook for the proposed improvement’s remaining $965,000 costs. The city has on hand in water and sewer department capital accounts the estimated $515,000 it would cost to extend water and sewer lines to the site.

That would leave the city with a bill of $450,000 for pre-construction earth grading. Several potential revenue sources have been explored to pay down bonds for that debt and the debt retirement on the $1.7 million purchase price of the 237 acres, which the city must start paying off in 2013. Revenue sources discussed included a $1 monthly surcharge on water and sewer bills on city customers, increased franchise taxes on gas, electric, phone, cable and Internet providers, some mill levy support and a quarter-cent sales tax.

The sales tax would require approval from Tonganoxie voters, which council members agreed couldn’t be taken for granted. Donnelly said Monday the Port Authority’s commitment with the county assuming responsibility for the road would eliminate the need for a sales tax.

The council debated making the letter more specific by spelling out the minimum specifications of road improvements as identified in the September report. Those specifications called for 24-foot paved road with a 6-inch asphalt top on a 6-inch gravel base, which would have 4-foot gravel shoulders and ditches.

Donnelly, who is chairman of the city’s industrial park committee that developed the concept of scaling back infrastructure to that needed to open 40 acres at the park, said that level of road upgrade was selected as one that would be affordable while giving a potential tenant confidence the road would adequately service its operation.

It was decided those specifications could be worked out in a later agreement Ward said would be the second step in the partnership.


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