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County updated on road project funding

12/3/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

A representative of the Kansas Department of Transportation briefed Ellis County commissioners on the status of funding at Monday's meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.

Jerry Younger, deputy secretary for engineering and state transportation, said KDOT receives approximately $350 million in federal aid in the current federal authorization, which lasts through September. KDOT shares a portion of that with local governments for road projects.

The question now is how much federal funding the state will receive in the future.

"We'll continue to watch the federal side," Younger said. "As everyone knows, that's kind of the wild card.

"We continue to talk with our Congressional delegation about the importance of transportation and having some sort of long-term in place, federal re-authorization. Hopefully, as we get closer to next fall, our people in Congress will do the right thing and put in place some long-term re-authorization."

KDOT also is keeping an eye on the state budget and how that relates to T-Works, a program that improves the state's infrastructure.

"On the state side, we feel like we're pretty solid as far as reserves needed to continue T-Works, as promised," Younger said. "I thought the wild card in there is always going to be the school finance side of it.

"If, indeed, there has to be money found to fund some sort of school finance court decision, where's that money going to come from? I'm not telling you guys something you don't already know, but sometimes we're affectionately known as the 'Bank of KDOT.' Unfortunately, in the past, we have had money transferred out of KDOT for other things associated with state operations."

Younger said money taken out of KDOT's budget would have an adverse effect.

"We've been pretty clear with everybody, that any significant change or transfer out of our current revenue stream is going to have a detrimental effect on delivering T-Works, as promised," he said.

Younger said the good news is in the last legislative session, a two-year budget was produced.

"With that in mind, you would hope short of a school finance issue that everything would hold pretty close to what was decided upon for budgets in last year's session for this coming fiscal year," Younger said.

In other business:

* Commissioners received a report on funding the Ellis County Historical Society receives from the Special Parks and Recreation funds each year, and will take note of that additional funding during budget discussions for the next fiscal year.

* Commissioners tabled a resolution for budgeted transfers until the next meeting, so Commissioner Barbara Wasinger -- who was absent Monday -- can review the resolution.

* Commissioners received the monthly financial report.

* Commissioners tabled an item concerning an escrow agreement with Buckeye Wind LLC.

* Commissioners approved a cereal malt beverage license for Nic Baalman for a special event at the Ellis County Fairgrounds.

* Commissioners were updated on pre-bid meetings earlier Monday for construction projects for the administrative center at 718 Main and for a new EMS/rural fire building. Bids for the administrative building are due Dec. 17, with a public opening at 2 p.m. Bids for the EMS/rural fire building are due Dec. 18, with a public opening at 2 p.m.

* Commissioners approved the County Emergency Operations Plan, which is valid through 2018.

* Commissioners received the monthly report from the county health department.