County approves funding for Lansing project

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth County commissioners have voted to provide $240,538 in funding for design work for a Lansing sewer extension project.

Commissioners approved the funding when they met Wednesday.

Lansing City Administrator Tim Vandall said the project could help spur development of additional properties along the Kansas 7 Highway corridor by extending sewer service farther south to McIntyre Road.

Vandall said city officials anticipate engineering costs for the design work will total about $500,000. He said the project may not be designed until 2023 or 2024.

“But once designed, this project will make the sewer line shovel ready and it would jumpstart the developability of properties in the area,” he said.

Lansing City Administrator Tim Vandall speaks Wednesday during a Leavenworth County Commission meeting.

A request for $240,538 to help pay for the design previously was reviewed by the Leavenworth County Port Authority. But a majority of the Port Authority’s Board of Directors voted last month against making a recommendation to the County Commission for funding for the Lansing project.

The Port Authority is a quasi-governmental organization with board members who are appointed by Leavenworth County and local city governments.

“Lansing is willing to put up money to help facilitate economic growth, but we feel like growth is best accomplished when all parties can work together,” Vandall said Wednesday.

County Commissioner Doug Smith noted the county promised improvements to McIntyre Road as part of a countywide sales tax ballot measure that was approved by voters.

“So we’ve got that done,” he said. “This is the next piece I think.”

County Administrator Mark Loughry said there is money left over from another project that would be available for the Lansing project.

The money would come from funds left over from development of the Tonganoxie Business Park. The county provided the city of Tonganoxie $5 million for that project.

Following development work within the business park site, $1.7 million remained from the $5 million that had been provided by the county. The remaining funds were returned to the county.

The County Commission later gave $1.2 million of the $1.7 million back to Tonganoxie to extend sewer service to the business park and upgrade water service to the site. This left $540,538 of the $1.7 million still unspent.

Loughry suggested Wednesday that Lansing may be able to use federal funding for sewer improvements. He said the design work for the sewer project may help the city be prepared to utilize federal funds for that purpose.

Commissioner Mike Stieben said Wednesday that the commission has been using the Port Authority to vet these types of funding requests. He questioned whether there would be time to ask the Port Authority to reconsider its earlier decision regarding the Lansing project.

County Counselor David Van Parys said referring the request back to the Port Authority would, in essence, be “asking them to reverse their own decision.”

He said the Port Authority has been acting as an advisory body, but the County Commission makes the final decision.

Commission Chairman Mike Smith said the $240,538 is a drop in the bucket compared to “some of the other things we’ve done in the county.”

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the funding for the Lansing project. Commissioner Vicky Kaaz was absent.

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a special use permit for a mechanic’s shop at 17405 Gatewood St.

Commissioners also approved a special use permit for a laydown yard, auto repair facility and boat storage facility at 31962 235th St.