Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

Mayor seeks council’s OK on project priorities

February 1, 2007

Mayor Ken Bernard outlined many of the city's proposed projects at Lansing City Council's Jan. 25 work session before recommending that the council approve four specific projects for 2007.

Bernard chose the projects because they represented a good balance that accomplished as many of the city's goals as possible while staying reasonably within the city's current budget.

Bernard recommended undertaking improvements to Bittersweet Road and bridge, construction of the municipal complex that would become the new home of Lansing Community Library, construction of a community park and the expansion of 147th Street.

De Soto Road was not on Bernard's list of recommended projects because the city has determined that waiting to begin the project poses little risk of losing the ear-marked federal funding. The estimated cost of the De Soto Road project is around $22 million. Initiating the project immediately would require a substantial increase in taxes, Bernard said, and it seemed wiser to allow more time to organize funding for that project.

"We personally went to KDOT and talked about it face-to-face. We have at least until '09 or '10 before we have to build anything because that's when all the money's available," Bernard said.

Some council members were concerned that residents would perceive a delay on the start of the De Soto Road project as a broken promise but agreed that clarifying the plans would create more understanding.

Council member Billy Blackwell said that so long as the council was prepared to be upfront and vocal about delaying De Soto Road, he was behind the move.

"We need to lay that out, have a plan about how we can do De Soto Road so we can show them that as well," Blackwell said.

Council member Kenneth Ketchum said that he thought the residents would understand the council was working toward the best interest of the community.

"We had a list of projects and we said we would go as far as we could with the money so we really aren't breaking any promises," Ketchum said.

The four projects Bernard recommended can be initiated with funds generated by the countywide one-cent sales tax and a tax increase of .82 mills, Bernard told the council members.

Approving the major's recommendations would require action from the council.

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