Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County Approves Revenue Proposal to City Council ; County: Tax Estimated to Generate $256.2M

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County Approves Revenue Proposal to City Council ; County: Tax Estimated to Generate $256.2M

Article excerpt

Shawnee County has made its initial offer to the City of Topeka regarding how the countywide half-cent sales tax dollars should be spent -- and it includes a few changes from the last time the city looked at project prices.

The Shawnee County Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the proposed interlocal agreement, which includes project costs and operating guidelines for the Joint Economic Development Organization for the 15-year extension voters approved in November.

"This is our opening offer," county counselor Rich Eckert said. "City of Topeka, we would appreciate look at it and give us some feedback."

Commissioner Kevin Cook said he would be surprised if the city didn't move around the project list and kick back a different proposal for the county to consider. However, he noted the Topeka Zoo is the first project on the list, which he thought reflected the priorities of the voters.

Both the commission and Topeka governing body have to approve the agreement before the tax can go into effect, Eckert said.

The county's proposed pricing sheet is nearly identical to one presented to the Topeka City Council in July. The council ultimately couldn't agree on a cost breakdown and scheduled a special meeting to pass a resolution for the ballot question without assigning prices.

The main change between the two lists is an increase to the amount of money to county bridges. At $2.17 million per year, $32.5 million would go toward county bridges by the time the sales tax is completed. The city previously considered putting $21.6 million toward county bridges.

"Those costs will rest on the people in the city and county," said Commissioner Shelly Buhler. "I think it's best to pay for those costs with the sales tax, and I hope the city keeps that in mind."

Buhler said the funds wouldn't completely pay for the needed improvements at the Carlson Road Bridge, but the commission "would exhaust every resource" to find additional funds. She voted down the ballot question because it didn't include the bridge, which also is referred to as the Willard Bridge. …

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