Archive for Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Capital improvement projects considered

March 4, 2008


A study for road improvements.

A new public works building.

Fairgrounds improvements.

These were among the major capital improvement projects discussed Monday by Douglas County commissioners.

The county has more than $4.4 million in its capital improvement fund this year. Most of it will go toward addressing a list of road and bridge projects. But there are many other needs that should be addressed during the next few years, county leaders said.

During the past few years, the county has budgeted 4 mills for capital improvements; a mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Commissioner Jere McElhaney said it may be necessary to increase the number of mills set aside each year for improvements.

Commissioners agreed that a strategic study on roads and bridges should be atop their list.

"I do think we are going to need to address some strategic issues in the long run, and I'm not sure we're positioning ourselves for that," Commissioner Charles Jones said.

Jones emphasized the need for knowing what major road and bridge improvements need to be made on a priority basis during the next five to 10 years.

A study that would identify a main east-west road to carry traffic south of the Wakarusa River is especially needed, Jones said.

That study could cost $200,000 to $250,000, said Keith Browning, county engineer and public works director.

Such a route eventually would be annexed into Lawrence. Commissioners have talked about a route study before, and the city had been asked to help pay for it. Although the city balked at helping with the study, commissioners said city officials should be asked again.

"It seems to me that before we go out and spend money for a study that has to do with the growth of the city of Lawrence, we need to have the city involved," Commissioner Bob Johnson said. "It doesn't have to be 50-50. If we have to pay a disproportionate amount for the study, it will be money well spent."

Commissioners also said they were interested in funding signs, lighting and kitchen improvements at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.

County leaders also are considering building a new public works facility and finding a centralized location for it. They discussed constructing a new building to temporarily house public works administration offices on the grounds of the Douglas County Jail until a new facility, where all public works entities can be on one site, is built. Currently, public works offices are at 1242 Mass. in an old church building, and public works operations are based at 711 E. 23rd St. The new building at the jail could eventually be turned over for jail use.

Commissioners will continue capital improvement discussions at a future meeting.

Among other business, commissioners:

¢ Approved a site plan for a 17,157-square-foot industrial building north of Maple Grove Cemetery along the east side of U.S. Highway 24-59. The building will be used by Pioneer Seed Co. The building will be leased to Hydra Seed Co.

¢ Approved a low bid of more than $1.28 million from R.D. Johnson Construction Co. for construction of sanitary sewer lines for southeast Lawrence sanitary sewer benefit districts 1, 2 and 3.

¢ Approved a low bid of $909,300 and an alternative bid of $21,000 from Midland Contractors for lift station construction for the southeast Lawrence sanitary sewer benefit district No. 1.


grimpeur 10 years, 2 months ago

Correction: my attribution made it seem as if both quotes above were from Jones--only the first was.

grimpeur 10 years, 2 months ago

"...a main east-west road to carry traffic south of the Wakarusa River..."

"Such a route eventually would be annexed into Lawrence..."

Jones is correct.

Some tomorrow, we'll need a road down there. Why not build it now, to serve the future residents of the area between the river and N. 1000 Rd.?

The area between 31st and the river will never be developed, so why build a road there? In 20 years, we'll be thankful to have decided against ruining a wonderful area by pouring concrete. Think of the future, commissioners of Lawrence and Douglas County!

Building a road to essentially mirror the road that Mr. Jones is describing would be wasteful and would, again, route truck and other through traffic right into the center of our city instead of around it, as any major route on the southeast side must.

LogicMan 10 years, 2 months ago

"Such a route eventually would be annexed into Lawrence"

So don't bother, county. Let the city pay for it if/when they want/need it.

Other than the new sewage treatment plant, the city likely won't be going south across the river for a long time. West is the logical and easiest direction for growth, as it has been for decades.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 2 months ago

Increases in the cost of community services is what will folllow and more of this : water and sewer lines streets and repairs houses public schools fire stations law enforcement manpower sidewalks snow removal bike trails and cross walks Traffic signals Traffic calming developers requesting more tax dollar assistance(new infrastructure) for their warehouses and retail strip malls. *In general increases the cost of community services to all taxpayers.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 2 months ago

This is what what taxpayers need: Let the developers pay!

* -  What is an impact fee?

        An impact fee is a charge on new development to pay for the construction or expansion of off-site capital improvements that are necessitated by and benefit the new development.

* -  Are impact fees referred to by any other name?

        Yes, early water and wastewater impact fees were referred to as capital recovery or expansion fees. In California and Washington, impact fees are often known as mitigation fees; in Oregon, as system development charges; in Minnesota, as service availability charges; and in North Carolina, as facility fees. In some states, such as Kansas, Colorado and Tennessee, impact fees are alternatively applied as adequate facility or excise taxes. In most places, however, they are generally referred to as development fees or impact fees.
    • When did impact fees first become popular?

      Impact fees as we know them today first came onto the scene in Florida and California during the late 1970s as a result of taxpayer revolts and reductions in federal and state aid for local infrastructure. Their use and popularity quickly spread throughout the Sunbelt and western states.
      • How prevalent is the use of impact fees today?

        According to recent national surveys, about 60 percent of all cities with over 25,000 residents and almost 40 percent of all metropolitan counties use some form of impact fees. In California and Florida, the extent of cities and counties using impact fees is at 90 and 83 percent, respectively.

      • How do impact fees differ from taxes?

        Impact fees are authorized through the police power; not the taxing power. They are part of the development approval process. Requiring an impact fee to provide adequate public facilities is similar to meeting site planning and zoning requirements.

      • Do any builders and developers support the use of impact fees?

        Many builders and developers are impact fee proponents because they know that impact fees add predictability to the development approval process and create a "level playing field" between them and their competitors. They also know impact fees replace less fair negotiated exactions.

      • What are some significant recent trends involving impact fees?

        First, impact fees have continued to significantly increase in popularity and usage. Second, there has been a parallel reduction in builder and developer opposition (and subsequent litigation), Third, it is now much more common for communities to recover full facility costs (than to discount them and charge less than full value). And fourth, there has been a greater use of creative methodologies (such as residential fees that vary by unit size).

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