February 6, 2018
According to the 2017 Westwood Comprehensive Plan, one of the most important long term issues to address is our aging infrastructure. At a work session in May 2016, five goals were presented that included reinvestment in infrastructure and facilities. Westwood residents expressed a desire to improve public infrastructure, including roadway reconstruction projects, sidewalks, bikeway improvements, street lights and other pedestrian amenities in addition to the reconstruction of increasingly pressing storm water improvements.
A specific community goal in the Comprehensive Plan (Goal F) was to increase investment in infrastructure and facilities. A notable plan theme (Section 2.3) is to promote and protect the neighborhood character of single family homes. 'Actions' in the plan include efforts to design, improve and maintain streets. Within our Stabilization Policy Area, policies within the plan look to maintain and improve residential properties/streets.
Steps have been taken to evaluate what will be required.
- In September 2017 the City Council authorized the Mayor to engage Springsted, Inc. (public sector advisors - www.springsted.com) to study the financial position and develop options to fund a revised Capital Improvement Plan.
- Westwood engaged Uhl Engineering Inc. to perform field surveys, project construction design, bid management and construction phasing for ten street and storm water improvement projects.
- Public Works Director John Sullivan has been working diligently with staff and Springsted to draft a plan that prioritizes upgrades to city infrastructure.
- The scope and details of the projects were discussed at the December 2017 Planning Commission meeting.
After careful analysis there are upwards of $4 million of street projects that may be required over the next several years. The ten highest priority improvements will cost an estimated $1.8 million.
In the following months, we will continue to share details about the projects. Many of these projects have been pushed back over time. Economic development and budgetary planning have created a diversified revenue stream that will help support this City Planning goal. There will be complementary funding sources such as storm water fees, property taxes, sales taxes, municipal debt and franchise fees, along with potential local and federal grants that could help too.
A key part of the Capital Improvement Plan is to use retail sales tax to help service debt. Sales tax from retail patrons uses revenues provided by those who don't live within Westwood to contribute to the building and repairing of streets routinely used by non-residents. In order to secure a sales tax increase Kansas statute requires a public vote.
The City will be planning for a vote in May 2018 which will be in time for 2019 budget planning this summer. For the City to be able to proceed with a sales tax vote, a Resolution will be brought before the Council at the February 8th Council meeting this week.
I wanted to communicate so that you understand that the Resolution for public vote does NOT approve any debt or projects. It merely attests to the City's intention for a public vote regarding a special sales tax which you will have your say on in May. Stay tuned as much more information will be forthcoming regarding the street improvements and storm water plans that will help with long overdue upgrades to our City.
John M. Ye