Lansing city officials are ready to move on improvements to DeSoto Road and Bernard Park, now that the city's sales tax election is behind them.

Lansing city officials are ready to move on improvements to DeSoto Road and Bernard Park, now that the city's sales tax election is behind them.

The election, conducted by mail ballot, increases the city's sales tax 0.45 percent, effective Oct. 1. The tax will be in effect for 20 years. City officials note that the rate will now be 8.95 percent, which they note is still one of the lowest in the area. It is projected to generate $355,000 a year. Several Lansing officials, including City Administrator Tim Vandall, Mayor Mike Smith, Finance Director Beth Sanford and Public In- formation Officer Ken Miller, were at the coun- ty clerk's office about the time the ballots were counted. County Clerk Janet Klasinski said the 2,164 votes were counted by machine as soon as the noon deadline passed, and the process took just under 30 minutes.

When all was said and done, the unofficial outcome was 51.2 percent for and 48.6 percent against — which amounted to 1,109 in favor and 1,053 against, with two provisional ballots. That equates to a 41 percent turnout, which was up from the 36 percent that had been mailed in last Thursday.

After receiving the news, Vandall noted, "We're really pleased with the turnout. This will make it a lot easier to move forward with the budgeting process this year. This helps move the DeSoto Road project forward and helps give us the ability to make improvements to Bernard Park.

"We're also pleased with the fact that this will be revenue generated not only by Lansing citizens but also people driving through town. People from Johnson County and Wyandotte County who drive through town will be supporting Lansing roads and Lansing parks, so we're pretty excited about that."

The mayor agreed about what the new tax increase will do.

"Lansing will continue to grow," Smith said. "I know that some people think a tax is a tax and I respect everyone's opinions, but this will help us move forward on DeSoto Road and we won't have to put more property tax on homeowners.

"Some people don't understand that property tax is a homeowner tax."

Smith added, "This will also help Bernard Park and we've been trying to go forward out there. This is a win for the city of Lansing and we look forward to getting started on this."

The mayor said they appreciate everyone who took the time to vote, regardless of whether they voted yes or no.

Roughly 60 percent of the generated funds will go annually to the DeSoto Road project, with the remaining 40 percent to Bernard Park. Lansing Council members have said they supported the DeSoto Road project, which has been in the works for a decade, because the city has spent a lot of the $2 million federal grant the city received for that purpose. If the project were not completed, the city would have to pay back what it has spent.

The improvements would make DeSoto from Eisenhower Road to Ida Street a three-lane road with a dedicated turn lane, wider shoulders and sidewalks and is expected to improve safety and improve the traffic flow near the intersection.

As for Bernard Park, multi-year improvements include water, electricity and wastewater services. Once these are in place, the ball fields will be improved. At Thursday's meeting, the city is expected to approve an agreement for a water line to the park.