Commissioners approve recommendation for business park funding

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners approved a recommendation to provide $1.2 million in funding for water and sewer upgrades for the Tonganoxie Business Park.

The $1.2 million comes from money left over from $5 million in funding the county government previously provided to the city of Tonganoxie for the development of the park.

Greg Kaaz, chairman of the Leavenworth County Port Authority, said the earlier funding from the county had to be used within the Tonganoxie Business Park. After the city of Tonganoxie completed development work within the site of the business park, $1.7 million was left over from the $5 million that had been provided by the county.

The remaining funds were returned to the county. County commissioners then asked the Port Authority to make a recommendation regarding how the $1.7 million could be used for economic development.

Kaaz said members of the Port Authority board reviewed a request from Tonganoxie as well as potential projects in other cities in the county and proposed improvements to County Road 30.

Kaaz said Port Authority board members voted unanimously to recommend that $1.2 million be allocated for sewer and water improvements for the Tonganoxie Business Park.

He said there was a consensus that now would not be the time to walk away from the business park after there already has been significant investment.

Kaaz said the money can be used to extend sewer service to the park. He said there is a sewer line at the park but “it doesn’t go anywhere.”

He said the existing tenant at the park, Unilock, uses a sewage holding facility that is pumped out occasionally.

There is a water line to the park. But Kaaz questioned whether the service would be adequate if a large building with a sprinkler system is constructed at the park.

“Personally, I had a lot of concerns over the water service to the park,” he said.

Commissioners questioned whether a nearby line from a privately-owned water service could be utilized for the park instead of relying on water from the city of Tonganoxie.

Tonganoxie City Manager George Brajkovic said the city provides water and the business park is city property.

County Administrator Mark Loughry recommended the county provide reimbursement for the work as needed rather than turning over the $1.2 million to the city in a lump sum. He said the county can pay money directly to companies hired by Tonganoxie for the projects.

Commissioners unanimously approved the use of the $1.2 million for water and sewer improvements for the Tonganoxie Business Park.

While he voted for the motion, Commission Chairman Doug Smith said he had a tough time voting for the water portion of the proposal. Smith said he wishes Tonganoxie will look at utilizing the existing line from the private company instead of spending taxpayer money for water service from the city.

Kaaz said $500,000 remains from the $1.7 million that was returned to the county. He said the Port Authority board may take another look at the other submitted proposals sometime in the future and make a recommendation to the county.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Voted to accept federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding in the amount of $109,398 for Council on Aging programs.

• Approved a resolution that sets a maximum speed limit of 35 mph for roads that have been paved as part of the county’s Dust Abatement program.

• Met behind closed doors in executive session for 15 minutes to consult with an attorney.