Archive for Thursday, August 4, 2005

Hard work pays off with federal funding

August 4, 2005

Congratulations to Lansing officials for landing the $2 million federal earmark for the reconstruction of De Soto Road.

City officials say this is the first time a Lansing project has been singled out in the federal transportation bill for funding. Though the funding won't pay for reconstructing the entire length of De Soto from Eisenhower Road to Gilman Road - estimated to cost upwards of $14 million - it will help with the project's first phase, from Eisenhower to 4-H Road.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts was instrumental in inserting the funding into the expansive federal highway package, and he and his office are to be thanked for their able help. Closer to home, city officials including Mayor Kenneth Bernard, City Administrator Mike Smith, Public Works director John Young and Community Development director John Jacobson also worked to win funding for the project.

But the key advocate for Lansing with federal officials was City Council member Robert Ulin.

Early this year, through his long-standing contacts with staffers in Roberts' office, Ulin learned about the development of the federal highway bill. "The more I listened, the more I was convinced that we had a good candidate for the bill," Ulin said last week.

It was at his urging that the city undertook its effort to seek the federal earmark. It was Ulin and the mayor who went to Washington to educate Roberts' staff about the project, and it was Ulin who continued to push for the funding even as staff changes took place in Roberts' office.

The city will continue to look for state and federal funding sources to help with the estimated $14 million cost of the entire project, which won't be completed for several years. But when the work is finished and drivers have a new, wider, smoother De Soto Road, they should be grateful for Ulin's efforts.

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Speaking of drivers, it's never too early to start slowing down to get in practice for the start of the school year. Later this month, hundreds of youngsters will be out daily on their way to and from school, and it's everybody's job to ensure the safety of Lansing's next generation.

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Property owners should be getting an idea pretty soon about the tax bite they'll face later this year. The city of Lansing, the Lansing school board and the Leavenworth County Commission all are continuing to work on their budgets for the coming year.

Each of the boards is required to conduct public hearings on its spending plans, which form the basis for property taxes. The city's hearing is scheduled for tonight. The school board will have a budget discussion at 6:30 p.m. Monday with its budget hearing later this month. The County Commission has not yet set its public hearing date, but it expected to be this month.

The time for property owners to ask questions about the budget and to make their concerns about taxes known is now, when budgets are being approved. When tax bills go out in December, it's too late.

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