The city manager of Kansas City is recommending 18 projects for the first $40 million of general obligation bonds, following voter approval of a massive infrastructure funding program.
“This infrastructure investment will have a tremendous impact already in Year 1,” City Manager Troy Schulte said at a press briefing Monday. “Now it’s up to us to deliver.”
Voters on April 4 authorized the city to borrow and spend up to $800 million for public works projects over the next 20 years. Schulte said the first $40 million in bonds will be issued next spring, but the city will front the money this year (and get paid back with the bond funds next year) so project work can begin this summer.
Voters approved up to $600 million for streets, bridges and sidewalks; $150 million for flood control; and $50 million for public building and structural improvements, mostly to make them more accessible to people with disabilities.
If this preliminary list is approved by the City Council, the first $40 million would cover $22.6 million in street and sidewalk work, $1.1 million for flood control and $15.8 million for buildings and fountains.
Schulte said the priority went to 16 mostly “shovel ready” projects, plus two projects that need money for planning. The list has work in each of the six council districts and includes $6 million to erase a backlog of several thousand spot sidewalk repairs in all parts of the city. Before April 4, voters were promised that one of the GO bond program’s benefits would be a major sidewalk improvement initiative.
Among other top projects on the list:
▪ $7 million in 2017 for a new animal shelter, which was also one of the major campaign promises. That’s enough to start construction this fall. The other $7 million in public funding for the shelter would come in 2018, in time to finish the shelter by late that year. The animal shelter also has pledges of $10 million in private donations.
▪ $3.4 million to reconstruct Wornall Road from 85th to 89th streets, and $3.6 million to reconstruct streets, sidewalks and stormwater improvements in Beacon Hill from 25th to 27th streets near Troost Avenue. The bond also would have money to complete design of Maple Woods Parkway in the Northland, in preparation for getting matching federal funds.
▪ $4 million for improvements to the Kansas City Museum, $1.1 million to start making Starlight Theatre more accessible to the disabled, and $1.5 million for sidewalk curb ramps. There’s also $1.5 million to restore the Spirit of Freedom and Delbert Haff fountains.
▪ $1.1 million to complete right-of-way acquisition necessary for construction of flood control in the Swope Park Industrial area.
Details of the list are at www.kcmo.gov/infrastructure.
The City Council still must approve the list of projects in a few weeks, and there may be some adjustments before then. But Schulte said there was general agreement about most of these priorities among city leaders. He’s hopeful that much of the work can start later this year.
The bonds require a property tax increase for Kansas City residential and commercial property owners to pay off the borrowing. That tax increase will take effect late next year, with the property tax bills that go out in November 2018.