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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Lansing council considers LCDC allocation, approves Military Council funds

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  • Steve Jack, Leavenworth County Development Corporation executive director, presented Thursday night an annual assessment of the group’s work to the Lansing City Council.
    LCDC is tasked with bringing new and retaining current business interests, jobs, and capital investment in Leavenworth County.
    Jack laid out LCDC’s assessed impact on job creation and capital investment in the county, touting the new Daylight Donuts production facility, which will create eight new jobs and $50,000 of capital investment, and a 10,000-square-feet building expansion by RFM Seating, a $475,000 capital investment outlay, in Lansing.  
    In Leavenworth, Jack attributed five new jobs and $60,000 in capital investment by R&B Plating and Buffing, 18 jobs and $830,000 in capital investment by Cereal Ingredients, and four new jobs and $1.5 million in capital investment by Zephyr Products, Inc., to LCDC’s development work.
    Jack also said potential development, or “prospect activity,” has been growing in recent years, and mentioned prospects in a variety of commercial sectors.
    LCDC is requesting a $398 increase in funding from the city of Lansing for 2015, an outlay totaling $16,679 for the year.  
    Funding for the organization comes from a mix of private and public sector funds, and the 2015 plan depends on 29 percent of its funding from Leavenworth County cities.
    LCDC is also expecting 29 percent of its 2015 funding to come from Leavenworth County, despite the county not contributing last year, leaving LCDC to use its own and Port Authority reserves to cover the difference.
    Jack said LCDC has been meeting with the Leavenworth County Commission about 2015 funding.  
    “I think we’re coming to an agreement now about the importance of funding us in the future,” he said.  “I’m optimistic about (getting county funding) now.”
    City Council member Tony McNeill raised a concern about the formula LCDC uses to determine each city’s contribution, noting his worry that the formula is disadvantageous for Lansing.
    “I don’t know where this formula came from, but it needs to be reworked,” McNeill said. “Comparatively speaking, across the other cities, in my view, the other cities are gaining a lot more than ours is.”
    McNeill attributed part of the problem with the funding formula to the inclusion of prisoners in Lansing’s population estimate, artificially inflating the number of people who would benefit from LCDC’s work and thereby increasing the city’s share of the bill.
    But, Jack and Lansing City Administrator Mike Smith attributed the discrepancy, in part, to local investment in large-parcel properties, such as the construction of industrial parks in Basehor and Tonganoxie.
    “My role is to get the companies wherever I can get them, wherever is the best fit,” Jack said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The question McNeill raised about Lansing’s benefit from certain investments also came up during the council’s discussion of the city’s proposed contribution to the Governor’s Military Council.
    Representatives from the Military Council presented their plan to lobby federal interests to stop or delay personnel and investment cuts to Kansas’s military installations, and requested a $5,000 outlay from the city of Lansing to fund the work.
    Council member Donald Studnicka began the conversation with a question.
    “How is this group any more powerful in doing this kind of work for the post than our governor and our federal Congressmen and women, and our state representatives and senators?” he said.
    “What are we getting back for our investment?”
    But, council member Gregg Buehler said the presentation he heard was sound.
    “I thought it was definitely worth the amount of money they were asking for," Buehler said.
    Council member Andi Pawlowski agreed.
    “(Fort Leavenworth) is facing some serious cuts,” she said.
    “(The Military Council) is taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach, so we don’t get behind the eight-ball.”
    Studnicka questioned how any of the work the Military Council would do in the next year could stop currently planned cuts to Fort Leavenworth personnel, and also questioned the governor’s commitment to the Military Council.
    Noting that the governor chartered the group with a $200,000 budget, Studnicka said the state was only contributing half and asking municipalities to pick up the remaining expense.  
    “It doesn’t seem to be a high-priority, economic thing for the governor,” Studnicka said. “So, I don’t understand.”
    Funding for the Military Council passed, with Studnicka voting against and McNeill abstaining.

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