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Archive for Sunday, December 6, 1992

GASOLINE TAX MAY FUND BIKE TRAILS

December 6, 1992

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Don't expect a bike trail bonanza this week, when a special ordinance goes into effect allowing the city to apply gasoline tax funds toward construction of biking and hiking paths.

But with a matching grant already in the works for a trail along the proposed South Lawrence Trafficway, city commissioners are looking forward to an expansion of their spending authority.

``We were looking for options,'' Commissioner Shirley Martin-Smith said this week. ``Every city right now is examining where they can find money and save money. . . . This gives us the ability to be more creative in financing things.''

The ordinance, which goes into effect Wednesday, will allow city commissioners to spend up to 10 percent of the city's annual gasoline-tax reimbursement normally mandated for use on streets and highways for constructing footpaths and bicycle trails.

The commission, using its ``home rule'' authority, approved the charter ordinance in August, joining 20 Johnson County communities now authorized to spend the tax money for trails.

``It gives us more flexibility,'' City Manager Mike Wildgen said. ``We may have other programs that we want to do on our own. Traditionally, these have been used for plain old cars and trucks, but there has been a lot of emphasis on alternative means of transportation and environmental concerns.''

In 1991, the city received $1,524,700 from the gasoline tax, which the state assesses at 18 cents per gallon and then returns a portion of to communities.

Wildgen has suggested the possibility of using up to 10 percent of the funds probably unavailable for bike and foot paths until fiscal 1994 to finance the local match of a proposed federal grant to build a trail along the east side of the proposed 14.1-mile South Lawrence Trafficway.

But city commissioners aren't ready to commit to any project yet.

``It's an option to have open because, of course, someone always asks, `Where's the money going to come from?' '' Martin-Smith said. ``If we're all taxed out, it's got to come from somewhere.''

``It's just the ability to use it if we need it,'' Mayor Bob Schulte said.

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