Commissioners agree on funding for Basehor project

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth County commissioners plan to use money awarded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act to provide funding for a road improvement project in Basehor.

When they met Wednesday, commissioners discussed providing up to $2 million from the ARPA funding the county will receive for a project that will make improvements to a section of 155th Street.

The city of Basehor has been awarded a $7.4 million grant for the project through the Mid-America Regional Council. But the total estimated cost of the project is $11.2 million, leaving a funding gap of $3.8 million.

The project will result in improvements to 155th Street between State Avenue and Basehor Boulevard.

Among the improvements will be the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of 155th Street and Parallel Road.

Construction for the project is scheduled to take place in 2024.

Basehor Mayor David Breuer and other officials from the city met with county commissioners last week. The mayor said he would appreciate anything the county could provide for the project.

County commissioners met for a work session Wednesday to discuss possible funding options. The work session took place after the County Commission's regular weekly meeting.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said Wednesday that the $11.2 million price tag is only an estimate.

"Keep in mind, that could change," he said.

He suggested commissioners set a level of funding from the county based on a percentage of the cost while also setting a maximum dollar amount for the county's contribution.

The county uses money generated through a sales tax for many of its road projects.

"We do not have available, unallocated funds in our sales tax right now," Loughry said.

He said using sales tax revenue to help pay for the 155th Street project would cause a delay of a project or projects planned by the county.

Commission Chairman Mike Smith asked about using money the county receives as a result of the federal ARPA legislation.

Loughry said there are restrictions on how ARPA funding can be used. But he said the ARPA funding could be used for aspects of the Basehor project related to stormwater control.

"That would be my preference if the board decides to give money," he said.

The city of Basehor also will be receiving money as a result of ARPA. But City Administrator Leslee Rivarola, who attended Wednesday's work session, said that money may be used for other stormwater and sewer projects in Basehor.

Breuer also attended Wednesday's work session. He suggested the county could use bonds to help contribute to the project.

"There seems to be some sort of stigma about bonding money," he said.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson said the city of Basehor can issue bonds to finance the project just as easily as the county.

Culbertson said he is not a fan of using bonds, which creates debt for the county.

"I don't like spending money we don't have," he said.

Rivarola said she anticipates Basehor will issue bonds for the 155th Street project and other projects.

At one point, Breuer expressed frustration, saying he feels as though commissioners do not view Basehor residents as citizens of Leavenworth County.

"Seven thousand people live in the city of Basehor," he said.

Rivarola said Basehor officials want to work cooperatively with the county. She said the city could not have received the $7.4 million grant from MARC without support from the county.

"Basehor is happy to take the money from any source," she said.

Commissioners settled on providing up to $50% of the unfunded gap for the project for an amount not to exceed $2 million. Commissioners plan to use ARPA funding, so the money will have to be used for eligible ARPA expenses.

Commissioners also discussed reducing their level of contribution if the city of Basehor is able to obtain additional grant funding for project.

Loughry also asked Basehor city officials about waiving connection fees if a county sewer district becomes part of the city's sewer system.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Listened to requests from residents who want commissioners to rescind a special use permit that was approved for a sand quarry in the area of 166th Street and Lenape Road.

The permit for Kaw Valley Companies was approved in July 2020. However, company officials objected to one of the conditions placed on the permit and filed a lawsuit against the county.

A Leavenworth County District Court judge recently ruled in favor of the County Commission. An attorney for Kaw Valley Companies has said company officials plan to appeal.

Three people addressed commissioners Wednesday about the permit during a public comment period of the County Commission's regular weekly meeting.

The speakers argued the special use permit should be rescinded because Kaw Valley Companies have failed to comply with other conditions and due to inactivity for more than 12 months.

County Counselor David Van Parys said he would prefer to provide legal advice to commissioners regarding the issue during a closed-door executive session.

Commission Chairman Mike Smith said an executive session will be scheduled for a future date.

• Voted to table an appointment to the position of Sherman Township clerk and extend the deadline for submitting applications.

This action was taken at the request of Commissioner Mike Stieben. The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Vicky Kaaz voting against the motion.

• Voted to accept a cost-share grant awarded by the Kansas Department of Transportation for the replacement of a bridge over Little Stranger Creek on Fairmount Road. The state will provide 80% of the funding for the project for an amount not to exceed $563,484.