Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bus Tour Offers City Officials Peek into Improvement Plan ; City Manager Jim Colson: CIP 'Is a Big Monster of a Plan and Budget'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bus Tour Offers City Officials Peek into Improvement Plan ; City Manager Jim Colson: CIP 'Is a Big Monster of a Plan and Budget'

Article excerpt

Five members of the Topeka City Council joined city manager Jim Colson and department heads Saturday morning for a four-hour bus tour of 30 capital improvement projects in Topeka.

The capital improvement plan, or CIP, is a five-year plan for nearly $300 million in projects.

"It is a big monster of a plan and budget," Colson told council members before the tour.

Because of the plan's size, the tour was arranged so council members could see the need for projects firsthand and have questions answered on the spot.

Jason Peek, who was named the city's public works director less than two months ago, sat across from council members Michelle De La Isla, Karen Hiller, Sylvia Ortiz, Jonathan Schumm and Elaine Schwartz. A vast majority of the CIP will be spent on utilities and streets.

"I think it's safe to say that when we go out into the community, we hear about streets," said Aly Van Dyke, the city's spokeswoman.

Nicole Lee, the city's budget director, guided the tour, which didn't follow traditional Topeka Metro bus routes, winding through narrow neighborhood roads and small streets.

"This is an example of one of the holes we need to patch," Lee quipped during a particularly jolting stretch of the tour.

The bus stopped in the Central Park neighborhood as Peek and city engineer Shawn Bruns explained a street repair program for the neighborhood, part of a $9.4 million streets project in the CIP.

Funding for the CIP comes from a variety of sources, with $138 million coming from revenue bonds, $41 million from the citywide half-cent sales tax, $51.5 million from general obligation bonds and $19.5 million from a countywide, half-cent sales tax.

On several occasions, city council members used the tour to voice concerns from their constituents. …

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