Archive for Wednesday, April 23, 2003

County Road 2 project gets funding green light

April 23, 2003

Fallout from state budget cutbacks won't affect a proposed Leavenworth County road-widening project slated to begin next month.

County officials said work could begin as early as May 5 to widen a mile section of County Road 2, from Evans Road south to Kansas Avenue. The project will cost approximately $1.2 million.

By being proactive in planning, designing and submitting project plans early for state approval, county officials were able to avoid state cost-cutting measures in areas earmarked for road improvements.

"(The project) was approved before the state could put the clamps down," said Joe Daniels, Leavenworth County Commission chairman. "The project is still a go. We had it in early and got it through the gate."

Last year, the state initiated a series of cutbacks to cities and counties to accommodate its approximate $750 million shortfall. Expected revenues have continually fallen short of projections, partially causing the deficit.

The reductions have cost Leavenworth County $1.2 million in funding this year and county officials said they expect to at lose at least that much next year.

For Leavenworth County, the lion's share of state reductions eliminated money targeted for road and bridge construction and improvements.

However, Daniels said Leavenworth County can still fund road maintenance and some new construction.

"A lot of counties got really hurt badly because of the (state reductions)," Daniels said. "We're still able to do maintenance and some building, but it'll be curtailed."

He said the county isn't completely bankrupt in the road and bridge funds; money from revenue sources such as state fuel taxes are still coming in.

Although the current County Road 2 project is green-lighted, a future project along the roadway could be in jeopardy.

Next year, county officials planned to widen another mile stretch of County Road 2, from Evans Road north to Kansas Highway 24/40. The project could be delayed or canceled depending on possible future state reductions, county officials said.

In recent months, Leavenworth County officials have initiated a 10-percent per department budget decrease to help recover from the state's reductions.

In the general fund, county officials have reduced the budget by $330,296, with the biggest reductions coming from the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department ($96,830) and county jail ($89,032).

Reductions in funds outside the general totaled $962,556 with the biggest cutbacks coming from the road and bridge fund ($518,200) and juvenile program ($63,038).

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