City determined to adapt to growth
Mayor Ron Conner's State of the City Address at the annual Eudora Chamber of Commerce meeting was a notice that city government was ready to adapt to growth.
The mayor stated that in 2004 the City Council would complete a five-year capital improvement plan. Such plans are routine planning tools in larger jurisdictions that help focus residents' attention on projects that represent community goals. The Council's acknowledgement the city should develop a CIP is both noteworthy and commendable.
At the core of all CIPs is a process that identifies realistic revenue streams that will pay for projects. Sure to top the CIP list in terms of cost is improvements to Church Street from 12th to 28th streets. Conner promised that project would receive added consideration this year as the Council starts to identify the revenue stream that would provide the needed $6 million to $6.5 million.
That staggering sum is unthinkable without help from the Kansas Department of Transportation and Douglas County. But even with help and the assumption improvements would be made in phases, it can be assumed the city's share of the project could be close to the cost of a new swimming pool. Dedicating that kind of money to one project would leave little for other upgrades that continued growth is likely to create. That suggests a new revenue source is needed, and it is encouraging the Council started consideration of one Monday in the form of an excise tax.
Such a fee on development, which exists in every city in Johnson County with the exception of Edgerton, taxes property at the time of platting on a square-foot basis.
Excise taxes and other development fees are not without critics. Developers can be expected to claim the tax will slow growth, despite the evidence in Johnson County. They can also drive higher-density residential development, as developers try to recoup their cost.
Still, the fairness of an excise tax in relieving longtime homeowners of some of the burden of street improvements driven by new development is evident. We hope the City Council moves ahead with a proposal that will help keep Eudora affordable to its present residents while greeting new ones.