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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Port Authority to ask cities for funding

  • Members of the Leavenworth County Port Authority board agreed Wednesday to send letters to cities in Leavenworth County to seek possible financial support.
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  • Members of the Leavenworth County Port Authority board agreed Wednesday to send letters to cities in Leavenworth County to seek possible financial support.
    But, some city officials who attended Wednesday's Port Authority meeting raised questions about the idea.
    Leavenworth County Port Authority is a quasi governmental agency that assists with economic development opportunities in the county.
    The Port Authority has traditionally received funding from the Leavenworth County government but not individual cities within the county.
    The county did not provide direct funding to the Leavenworth County Port Authority this year. But, county officials said money is available if the LCPA needs funding for a project.
    The idea of the Port Authority asking cities for funding came at the suggestion of the Leavenworth County Commission when commissioners met with LCPA board members April 17.
    County Commission Chairman Bob Holland and Commissioner Dennis Bixby were on hand for Wednesday's LCPA meeting. Representatives of the cities of Leavenworth, Lansing and Tonganoxie also were in attendance.
    Bixby suggested the county could match funds contributed to the Port Authority by the cities.
    "Leavenworth County is facing financial cuts from the state," he said.
    He said the county government has to be more conservative in terms of where it spends its money.
    Bixby also noted that LCPA board members are approved by the Leavenworth County Commission and the Leavenworth City Commission. But, he said the city of Leavenworth contributes no money to the Port Authority.
    "That kind of sends a mixed message," he said.
    Teresa Commerford, a Port Authority board member who acts as the organization's treasurer, said a letter has been drafted to serve as a formal request to cities.
    The letter was written by Steve Jack, executive director of the Leavenworth County Development Corporation. LCPA and LCDC are partner organizations.
    Commerford said she also would like for Jack to have face-to-face meetings with city officials.
    Holland asked if the letter includes a formula for payments to the Port Authority based on the cities' populations.
    "We haven't put that much detail in the letter," Jack said.
    He said the letter asks if cities are open to investing in the Port Authority.
    Holland said a formula based on population would be a fair way to fund the LCPA.
    Leavenworth City Manager Scott Miller asked if the city of Leavenworth gave money to the LCPA, would it see the same amount invested in projects in the city.
    If some of the money were to be appropriated for projects in other cities, Miller asked how the expense from the city of Leavenworth could be justified.
    "If I put in $200,000, am I going to get that back?" he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - He used the $200,000 figure as an example.
    Bixby said officials won't know what projects will come up and there can't be a guarantee that the city of Leavenworth will get its money back through investment every year.
    Miller said money generated within the Leavenworth city limits has to stay within those city limits. He said money the county generates has to stay within the county.
    Miller said the legality of money generated through municipal taxes being utilized outside of the city has to be examined.
    Miller acknowledges the city of Leavenworth provides funding to LCDC, but he said that money is paid for a service.
    LCPA board member Greg Kaaz suggested the Port Authority could keep track of the funding it receives from the individual cities, and the money from a specific city only could be used for projects in that city.
    "I don't understand why we're trying to reinvent this thing," Lansing City Administrator Mike Smith said.
    He said the Port Authority has had success operating the way it has been.
    Smith said he would understand if it's an issue of money. But, he said the issue seems to be about control.
    "I think however well we're doing, we can always do better," Bixby said.
    He anticipates the county will lose funding as the result of state legislation.
    "I'm looking for a way to pay the bills," he said.
    Smith said he doesn't disagree there is room for improvement with the Port Authority. But, he said it seems officials are proposing to "throw it all out" at one time.
    Commerford asked if there was a consensus for Jack to send letters to the cities and set up meetings with city officials.
    "I think the letter opens it up for discussion," Kaaz said.
    Jack said he will mail the letters today.

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