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Ranzau, Norton spar over Kellogg, I-235 funding

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, at 12:52 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, at 6:58 a.m.

A discussion about how Sedgwick County would pay for a $11.6 million local match to reconstruct the Kellogg and I-235 interchange grew testy Tuesday.

Commissioner Richard Ranzau said the county hasn’t done a good job of thinking out how to pay for a 10 percent match required by the Kansas Department of Transportation for the $116 million project.

Public works director David Spears said the county plans to divert $3.1 million in federal funds each year in 2016, 2017 and 2018 — money usually used for county road and bridge projects — to pay for most of the match. That would leave $2.3 million for the county to ante up.

Spears told commissioners that the plan was to borrow $900,000 in 2016, $900,000 in 2017 and $500,000 in 2018.

Ranzau doesn’t want the county to borrow the $2.3 million because he thinks the state should pay for the project and if not, the city.

Ranzau is pushing for the county to plan to pay cash for its $2.3 million share.

He kept saying Tuesday that “we haven’t thought this out.”

Commissioner Tim Norton took exception to that.

Norton and commissioners Jim Skelton and Dave Unruh last year voted to include the project in the county’s capital improvement plan. Ranzau and Commissioner Karl Peterjohn voted against doing so.

“First, quit using the term ‘we.’ ” Norton said. “I’ve been working on this project for many years.”

Norton, chairman of the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization focused on transportation, said that he trusted the county’s financial team to “use our resources in a good manner.”

“I know some ‘we’s’ who didn’t even vote for this who are now trying to tell us how to fund it,” Norton said.

“We can stop that right now.”

Ranzau didn’t give in.

“These decisions have financial impacts,” he said. “Do you want me to say ‘You’? You didn’t think this out? I don’t believe that the financial impact was analyzed by anyone.”

“We’re just now coming up with a plan. That’s just reality. That’s a fact.”

At that point, Norton said the commission would make a decision about whether to sign an agreement with the city and state Wednesday, and he moved on to new business.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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