Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Spending requests concern council

May 4, 2006

No sooner had Lansing City Council agreed to pay extra for the Main Street Enhancement Project in a special meeting last week, its members were faced with a proposal to spend more money in a work session.

At the work session Thursday, April 27, director of public works John Young asked the council to consider hiring a consultant to design extending a sanitary sewer interceptor on West Mary Street.

Two parties are interested in developing more than 80 acres of land on West Mary Street, Young said. City planners would like to put the sewer extension on the same track as the Bittersweet Street extension to reduce cost, he said.

"The timing is right while that whole area is under construction," Young said.

Young said the city engineer had estimated the total cost of the project about $530,040, and the consultant's cost would be about 7 to 10 percent of that. However, he pointed out that once a design study has been done, the city would have a more accurate cost estimate.

"This has to be bonded," City Administrator Mike Smith said. "Now's the time to open that door."

The proposal drew protests from several council members, including Robert Ulin.

"What comes off of our schedule?" he asked. "Something has to come off.

"I'm not saying it shouldn't be done; it's probably a good idea. (But) all it's doing is stacking the mill levy."

Ulin, Harland Russell and Billy Blackwell asked at what point the city would stop adding projects to its priority list and asked to reassign the list of priorities.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard asked Young to bring the proposal for a design consultant to the May 18 meeting and said he would schedule a work session for the coming week to review the project priority list. Timing of the session had not been decided by press time.

Also at the work session, the council heard presentations on the Governor's Military Council, economic development tools and trends in the regional housing market.

Lt. Gov. John Moore asked the council to consider pledging $9,200 for the GMC, which was previously the Governor's Strategic Military Planning Commission that was formed to minimize the effects of the Base Realignment and Closure on Kansas military bases. The communities surrounding each Kansas base have been asked to give money so the GMC can continue promoting Kansas bases and "to protect the BRAC gains that we made," he said.

Leavenworth County has committed $20,000, and Leavenworth has committed $10,800. This is the last year the city will have to pay for the council, Moore said, because the state will take over its funding next year.

Council members thanked Moore for his clear and complete presentation. Council member Dee Hininger said it was "one of the best presentations we've ever had." Last year, he said, when the Governor's Base and Realignment Commission asked for money, there was "no explanation" of why the city was being asked for the money.

The presentation on economic development tools was given by Gary Anderson of Gilmore & Bell, PC, and explained tax increment financing, STAR bonds like those used for Village West in Wyandotte County, sales tax rebate agreements, transportation development districts and other tools for consideration.

Tim Underwood, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City, presented information to the council about the changing housing needs in the area. There is not a housing bubble in the Kansas City metro area, he said, but there is excess inventory.

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