Douglas County may be forced to approve agreement that results in less money for roads, bridges

The Douglas County Commission will consider Wednesday a change to an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation that would reduce the amount of federal road and bridge funding returned to the county.

In a memo to commissioners, Keith Browning, county public works director, wrote that the change to be considered amends an April 2016 agreement between the county and KDOT. That agreement had the county forwarding the federal road and bridge funding it received each year to KDOT with the agreement the county would receive 90 percent of the money back.

Browning said Tuesday the 90/10 exchange was a good deal for the county because using the KDOT exchange money for projects required a less expensive level of pre-construction planning and documentation than federally funded projects. In other words, there is less paperwork once the money is considered state money instead of federal money. The county also has more flexibility in how it spends KDOT money compared to federal funds, he said.

KDOT has now informed counties the agency was losing money at the 90 percent exchange rate and would review the rate annually. The agency is reducing the exchange rate to 75 percent for fiscal year 2018, Browning wrote. In addition, KDOT now dictates the federal money exchanged must be used that year and not put aside for projects in future years, he wrote.

Browning recommended commissioners approve the changes. KDOT voluntarily shares with counties the federal funding it receives and can decide how much to distribute to local government, he wrote in the memo.

“It’s not a welcome change, but it’s not one we have a choice in,” Browning said. “In KDOT’s defense, they are trying just not to lose money.”

The County Commission meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. To view the complete County Commission agenda, visit