Topeka Council fails to reach spending plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka City Council could not make an agreement on how much to spend, or what to spend it on.

The plans brought to the council would determine where about $240 million from the county wide half-cent sales tax plan would go in the city.

After more than four hours of discussion, City council members could not agree on what to spend the money on. The plan would provide funding for the Topeka Zoo. The Bikeways project, the Kansas Expocentre, and at least 13 different street projects.

But the problem was that none of the council members could agree on just how much went into those projects. Much of the debate was how to find the money for necessary street repairs, including $5 million for sidewalks.

‘”The first priorities on that tax should be items that are accessible and used by all members of the community, those would be things like trail systems, the zoos and parks,” said Councilman Nathan Schmidt.

“I think that trails and Bikeways and all that stuff is important, but if we have citizens that aren’t able to transport themselves from one place to another on foot, that’s really a quality of life issue,” said Councilman Chad Manspeaker.

This was the last chance the council had to put a specific spending plan on the November ballot for voters to look at, so unless the council calls for a special meeting, voters may be asked to give a blank check.

Ten years ago, the Topeka Council was in much the same situation. They waited until after the election, then decided how to spend the money. They may be going down that road again.

The plan goes back to the County Commissioners. Their next meeting is Thursday.

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