Shawnee City Council accepts $11.7 million in stormwater funding
When it comes to funding a few upcoming stormwater projects, the city of Shawnee will be getting a little help.
At its meeting Monday evening, the city council approved notices of intent to accept about $11.7 million from the Johnson County Stormwater Management Council to fund three flood remediation projects along the Nieman Road corridor.
The total cost of the projects is $18.9 million.
The city would fund the remaining $7.2 million using its Parks & Pipes Fund, Economic Development Fund and Debt Service Fund.
Accepting the SMAC funding for all three drainage projects would integrate them with Nieman Road construction, allowing them to be completed by the end of 2018.
But covering the additional workload to expedite those projects could require the city to add an engineering tech/inspector position at an ongoing cost of $72,000 per year, increasing the mill levy by .09 mills. Potentially increasing the tax rate to add one staff person did not sit well with a few council members.
Councilman Dan Pflumm told the rest of the governing body he didn’t think it was necessary to raise the mill levy for a staff person who may not be needed after the stormwater projects were over.
Mayor Michelle Distler, however, argued otherwise. She pointed out that the city has several other current unmet stormwater needs where an additional staff person could be very useful. She added that many residents have told her they are tired of the city being behind on stormwater issues.
Agreeing with Pflumm, Councilman Eric Jenkins said he felt the funding for an additional worker should come from the project’s total cost or be contracted out.
Councilman Jeff Vaught, on the other hand, felt the additional worker was an important enough need to consider a potential slight mill levy increase.
“Our job here is to fulfill needs,” he said in voting to accept the funding. “This is not a want, this is a need. If we don’t staff our stormwater department, we won’t be able to keep up.”
The stormwater projects are located at the Nieman Road Corridor North, west of Flint to west of Barton Road; the 6200 block of Nieman Culverts; and Nieman Road Corridor Middle, east of Barton Road to east of Nieman Road.
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