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Archive for Friday, September 18, 1992

CITY SEEKS TO FUNNEL GASOLINE TAX FUNDS INTO HIKING TRAILS

September 18, 1992

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Residents pumping gasoline into their tanks in the near future also could be pumping dollars into bike trails and hiking paths in Lawrence.

Lawrence city commissioners will consider adopting a special ordinance Tuesday that would allow the city to use state gasoline tax funds to pay for footpaths and bicycle trails.

"This is just a flexibility move for the city," said City Manager Mike Wildgen. "I'm just saying we ought to have the authority to do this. There is no one particular project we have in mind yet."

The state charges 18 cents tax on a gallon of gasoline, Wildgen said. "Seven or 8 cents of that are distributed back to the communities," he said.

The city received $1,524,700 in gasoline tax funds in 1991. State law limits use of a city's share of gasoline tax dollars to maintenance of streets and highways.

However, cities in Johnson County have the green light to use 10 percent of the tax money for footpaths and bicycle trails.

"They got the law changed at some point in time," Wildgen said. "They have a lot more flexibility than we do right now. I'm saying that we ought to have that flexibility too."

ALTHOUGH there are no firm plans for a bike trail or footpath system in Lawrence, the gasoline tax funds could be used as a match to a federal grant sought by the city and Douglas County for a "hike and bike" path along the planned 18.5-mile South Lawrence Trafficway.

The city and county applied for $459,000 in federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act funds this summer for the first phase of the 10-foot-wide trail, said Linda Finger, city planner.

The 4.9-mile first phase would stretch from County Road 438 to Clinton Parkway.

The city and county would kick in an additional $115,650 to pay for 20 percent of the phase cost. Some of that cost could be covered with the gasoline tax funds, Wildgen said.

The money could go toward developing future pedestrian and bike paths in the city as well. "Future budgets will determine that," Wildgen said.

INSTEAD of trying to persuade legislators to change state law, the city can adopt a charter ordinance that exempts it from the law and allows it to use 10 percent of the gasoline tax funds for bike and foot trails.

The charter ordinance needs approval from two-thirds of the commission. With five commissioners, the ordinance needs four votes to pass on first reading Tuesday.

After another reading and two consecutive weeks of publication in the Journal-World, residents would have a 60-day period to protest the ordinance.

If at least 10 percent of the number of voters in the last city election filed a petition in the 60-day period, the ordinance would be put up for a vote in the next city election.

With 7,071 voters in the last election, at least 708 voters must sign the petition. The law becomes effective after the 60-day protest period.

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