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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Port Authority changes operations

  • The Leavenworth County Port Authority is changing how it does business after losing funding from county government.
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  • The Leavenworth County Port Authority is changing how it does business after losing funding from county government.
    LCPA Board Chairman Terry Andrews said the economic development organization will no longer consider projects requiring financial incentives of more than $10,000.
    He said these projects will be forwarded to Leavenworth County government for consideration.
    Andrews said the Port Authority will continue to consider projects involving financial incentives of $10,000 or less.
    Because the Port Authority is scaling back the projects it will consider, the board will start meeting on a quarterly basis instead of monthly.
    "That's our plan," Andrews said.
    He made the announcement Wednesday during a Port Authority Board meeting. He said the decision came after he was informed the county won't provide direct funding to the Port Authority for a second year in a row.
    The Leavenworth County Port Authority is a quasi-governmental economic development agency with a board appointed by the city of Leavenworth and Leavenworth County.
    County government provided funding to the Port Authority in the past, but the organization received no direct county funding this year. The county also did not provide direct funding to the Port Authority's partner organization, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation.
    The county's 2015 budget, which was approved earlier this month, also does not include funding for the Port Authority or LCDC.
    But, Commission Chairman Bob Holland has said commissioners will work with the organizations to provide financial incentives for specific projects.
    Andrews said he would like to meet with county officials to discuss long-range planning. He said by the end of the year, there may not be any industrial park space available for future projects in the Leavenworth area.
    As the Port Authority draws down its reserves, Andrews said the most critical expense is maintaining staff. The Port Authority does not have its own employees, but utilizes the LCDC staff.
    Holland attended Wednesday's Port Authority Board meeting. Also in attendance were representatives of the cities of Leavenworth, Lansing and Tonganoxie, as well as members of LCDC's Board.
    LCDC President Blaine Weeks questioned why the county stopped funding the two organizations.
    "I'm not sure what was wrong with what we were doing before," he said.
    Holland said he had wanted to be more involved in what the organizations were doing and see how the county's money was being spent.
    Weeks said the commission can stay informed of how money is spent by attending board meetings.
    Leavenworth City Manager Scott Miller said the five members of the Port Authority Board were approved by the Leavenworth City Commission and Leavenworth County Commission. He said county commissioners could have vetoed any of the appointments.
    Page 2 of 2 - "These are your representatives," he said.
    Andrews said the reality is the County Commission has become the Port Authority.
    Port Authority Secretary Ed Chapman, Jr., said county officials should have come to the Port Authority regarding problems they had with the organization.
    "That did not occur," he said. "Suddenly, the money is gone."
    Holland asked if there is something the county can do to help the organizations right now.
    "Write a check," Port Authority Board member Greg Kaaz said.
    Holland raised the idea of the county turning over money that's been collected for economic development purposes to the Port Authority and LCDC. This is something that has not been voted on by the County Commission.
    During the meeting, the Port Authority Board approved $5,000 in funding for The 27 Committee, a group that focuses on economic development related to Fort Leavenworth.
    Miller said the city of Leavenworth also is providing $2,500 to The 27 Committee this year and has committed $5,000 for the organization next year.

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