Archive for Thursday, March 12, 2009

Council limits ARA spending

March 12, 2009

Although the money being offered as part of President Barrack Obama’s stimulus package is tempting, the Eudora City Council decided at Monday night’s meeting to curb the amount of spending it would commit to the replacement of the Ninth Street bridge.

The city will commit only $35,7000 for the design of the bridge, but will ask for 100 percent funding to complete the estimated $425,000 project.

The city was told at a previous meeting that projects most likely to get funding would be financed with 80 percent of the total cost of a given project, with a city coming up with the remaining 20 percent.

A total of $11 million dollars in American Recovery Act funds is being made available to northeastern Kansas, not including the Kansas City Metro area. Applications for ARA-funded projects are due Friday and projects will be selected Wednesday by Kansas Department of Transportation officials.

The city discovered the bridge needed to be replaced a little more than a year ago when it began conducting bridge inspections. The bridge inspection revealed a 36 percent rating on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the best.

Jason Hoskinson of BG Consultants, the city’s engineering firm, said the bridge had “basically used up its service life,” but that it was eligible for money regardless of stimulus funding.

“With this efficiency rating as low as it is, it will be competitive for funding after the stimulus project,” Hoskinson said.

Though it could take from two to three years to get money from the state if the project doesn’t qualify for federal stimulus funding, council members Bill Whitten and Jeff Peterson both said that the city has more pressing projects.

“I agree with Bill,” Peterson said. “I think that it’s the right thought that if we can get the same deal later, we have plenty of other street needs.”

Councilman Fred Stewart was the lone dissenting vote. Mayor Tom Pyle also wanted to commit more money to the bridge project, but the mayor doesn’t have the power to decide matters at council meetings unless there is a tie in voting.

There is no concern that the bridge will give out in the immediate future, and it will be load restricted. City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said the only party who would be impacted by the load restriction would be trash collector Weldon Enterprises.

Part of the stimulus package also made available statewide $10 million in transportation enhancement funds.

The council declined to submit for transportation enhancement funds the second phase of the downtown beautification project, which would have added new sidewalks, light poles and landscaping to Main Street between 10th and Ninth streets.

The project would have cost an estimated $1 million, with about $250,000 going towards the new light poles.

An 80/20 spilt plus designs would have cost the city about $280,000.

“I hate to say it because if there’s free money out there I’d like to grab it, but on something like this that’s just going to beautify our downtown, I don’t think it’s money well-spent right now,” Whitten said. “It’s hard for me to pull the trigger on $280,000 when the economy is the way it is.”

Councilwoman Maria Nelson also said that if economic development pays off, then the money would be there in the future because of the possible increase in the business tax base.

Fred Stewart again was the lone dissenting vote.

In other actions, the council:

• Annexed into the city boundaries the city water booster station south of Kansas Highway 10.

• Changed the operating hours of the city pool during the dates of Aug. 15 to Sept. 7 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. with pool parties from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., to 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with pool parties from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

• Approved the disposal of dead trees in CPA Park. The city will allow individuals to remove the trees at no charge for use of firewood. Cost to the city would have been about $3,500 for a contractor to remove the trees.

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