Colson's New Sales Tax Plan | How It Compares To County's

Jim Colson, Topeka City Manager

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Less money for the Kansas Expocentre and county bridges and more money for city street projects and bikeways.

That's what makes the cut for Topeka City Manager Jim Colson in the latest proposal on how to earmark proceeds should voters approve an extension of a countywide sales tax. He released the list Thursday as part of his weekly city manager's report.

The Topeka City Council and Shawnee County Commission are working to hammer out agreement on the question that will go before voters. Both bodies have agreed they should specifically spell out what projects would be funded with the money. The Council held an extensive discussion on the issue at its July 1 meeting. With that feedback, Colson formulated a new proposal that council members will take up at their July 15 meeting.

The city's initial proposal in May suggested the countywide half-cent sales tax be extended for 12 years and listed projects totaling $206.3 million. The new proposal calls for a 15-year extension, the same as a proposal from the commission last month.

Colson's proposal contains two major differences from the county's plan. Instead of $45 million for the Kansas Expocentre, Colson proposes only $40 million. In addition, whereas the county's plan includes $34.5 million for county bridges and the NW Carlson Rd. bridge over the Kansas River (also known as the Willard Bridge), Colson's plan calls for $21.6 million earmarked simply for "county bridges."

Both proposals make the following earmarks:
Economic development - $75M
SW 6th, Gage to Fairlawn - $5.6M
12th St., Gage to Kansas Ave. - $6.6M
Huntoon, Gage to SW Harrison - $5.8M
SE California, 37th to 45th - $5.6M
SW 17th, Adams to Washburn - $8.3M
SE 17th, MacVicar to I-470 - $14.6M
Topeka Blvd, 15th to 21st - $4.9M
NE Seward, Sumner to Forest - $1.5M
Topeka Zoo Master Plan - $10M

Colson's new proposal also adds two projects the county wants:
NW Rochester Rd., Hwy. 24 to NW 50th (Seaman HS) - $13.7M
NW 46th St., Button to Rochester - $9.4M

Colson's proposal keeps three city street projects not included on the county's list:
SW 29th, Fairlawn to Wanamaker - $6.1M
SW 37th, Scapa Place to Burlingame - $3.7M
SE 37th, Kansas to Adams - $4.4M

The tax is projected to bring in $240 million over 15 years, which is the exact total of the projects on Colson's list. The county's list totals $240.5 million.

The city and county are working toward placing the question on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. County Commissioners have the final say on what's included in the question and when it would be put to public vote.