Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
Miami County commissioners met Sept. 1 for their fifth week of study sessions listening to expert feedback on various topics related to establishing a city within the county.
The testimony phase continues through early September before county commissioners deliberate on incorporation of third class city Golden, Kan. It requires a 4-0 vote by the county commission.
Residents in a nine square mile radius in Northwest Miami County north of Hillsdale Lake bordering Southern Johnson County have petitioned a proposal for the city of Golden. They hope to keep Edgerton’s intermodal warehouses known as Logistics Park from being built on land used for rural residential living and agriculture.
NorthPoint Development and Edgerton have been annexing land the last few years for the industrial park.
JR McMahon, county road and bridge director, presented information with detailed maps on Miami and Johnson County roads and expounded on previous questions from the commission.
McMahon said the counties’ collector roads were established in the 1930s including 223rd street in Gardner and every county has a collector route system approved by the State of Kansas.
“Intermodal changed things,” he said.
McMahon said he receives numerous regular calls about the intermodal development’s truck traffic on the collector roads.
“A lot of roads are paved and some are gravel,” he said.
Tyler Vaughan, county commissioner, said he wanted to know if 223rd and Gardner Road will still be managed by the county if Golden is incorporated.
McMahon said the county maintains county roads in a city until $5,000 in taxes are collected as required by State Statute.
“It’s a process not an event,” he said. “They are still county residences and the interlocal agreement cost is determined by the county.”
McMahon said 223rd street’s westbound lanes were in good condition but the eastbound lanes did have concerning premature cracking in the pavement, and they might have to fix the road every seven years instead of the standard 10 to 12.
“It might be from trucks,” he said. “Everything is not hunky dory.”
McMahon said there had been talk of warehouses ruining county roads.
“You’re going to have a truck route,” he said. “The collector roads put in the 30s were supposed to be truck routes, and no one said much to Intermodal.”
McMahon said he understood but the state has collector routes everywhere and cited 311th Street as one of the heavier routes.
“In today’s world between the Amazons you will see more,” he said. “But we don’t need semis on local roads end of story.”
McMahon said the county also has the authority to designate truck routes and speed limits between 20 and 60 mph.
McMahon said Johnson County has always maintained 215st and Waverly to Cedar Niles, but this will now be part of Golden’s annexation.
“Golden will have to catch up with Johnson County and deal with a piece of Edgerton,” he said. “Edgerton is annexed to the county line.”
McMahon said it was unusual for a boundary road to be taken over by a county per state statute, and Golden will annex the whole road.
McMahon said the county takes care of 13 to 14 miles of collector roads, and Golden will have to maintain 11 miles of road that are all 35 mph.
“You have to mow the road and look at the whole system of upkeep,” he said.
McMahon said if road signs are knocked down the City of Golden will be responsible for putting them back up in a 24 hour time frame.
“It puts a city at risk if a sign is knocked down and not put back up within two weeks,” he said. “You have to have someone on call 24/7 for liability issues.”
McMahon said if there is no agreement between the city and county the city of Golden will be responsible for road signs.
“I don’t see us walking away, but there has to be an end date,” he said.
Tyler Vaughan, county commissioner, said it creates a conversation about a transition period.
McMahon presented names of roads, the number of miles, their condition and anticipated expenses.
“Chip seal work was down on blacktop of 215st and Waverly to Spring Hill,” he said. “The roads are not horribly bad but, they’ll have to keep them up.”
McMahon said subdivisions will cost more for the city and cited Timber Trace and Hidden Prairie as examples.
“Timber Trace is due in the near future for mill overlay on Gardner Road and the residents are super sensitive,” he said. “The City of Golden needs to look at it and will have expensive repairs.”
McMahon said it could cost $250,000 and up to repair roads in the Timber Trace subdivision and should be fixed sooner than later.
Conversations also need to happen for Hidden Prairie subdivision, he said, but the roads were in good shape for now.
Vaughan said he wanted to know about any agreements with developers that could be made and their costs to the county.
McMahon said if the zoning is correct developers have to meet standards that also include some agricultural and go to the county commissioners for an agreement. The county would finish the project with bond money and perform the final inspection and the road becomes a county road.
“Like it, love it or hate it, it’s going to develop,” Vaughan said in reference to the area. “The city would be managing the process.”
McMahon said Quail Woods subdivision was established in the early 1990s, and they don’t hear a lot from the residents but a chip seal will be needed in the next five years.
Bedford Road is a private subdivision with a good HOA, he said, and the county never touches it because it was built in the township days of the 70s.
Phil Dixon, said he wanted to know if the Forest Creek area would be a $10,000 expense. McMahon said it would be $5,000 for road repairs.
“The roads aren’t horribly bad there,” he said.
McMahon said $447,000 is needed for the maintenance of all subdivisions in the proposed area.
“The county has funding sources the city doesn’t,” he said.
Vaughan said can any city contract with the county separately to maintain the roads.
McMahon cited the city of Fontana for an example but said the county charges them the county and FEMA rates for services.
“We have stayed away from snow removal,” he said.
McMahon said snow removal is typically contracted out, and there are hoops to jump through as you also have to have someone on call 24/7 for snow removal.
“A city has to determine the level of snow removal they want,” he said.
Vaughan said they would need conversations between the county and the City of Golden on project management contracts since residents will still be paying property taxes.
“Don’t think dollar for dollar,” he said. “I don’t think we shut down immediately, but we talk about it.”
Shane Krull, commissioner, said Golden could formulate a benefit district and pay through special assessments.
“There is a bevy of different options,” he said.
George Pretz, commissioner, said he never sees Rockwood  north of Paola laying mill overlay.
“A city changes everything,” he said.
McMahon said of the $6,979,200 collected in taxes 29 percent was property County taxes and 16 percent for city property taxes. 28 percent was in sales taxes.
“End of the day it is sales taxes,” he said. “It’s all embedded into state law and every resident will contribute to sales and special Highway funds and motor vehicle taxes.”
McMahon said the tax collection breakdown doesn’t fit the narrative.
“The county tax doesn’t pay for everything in rural areas,” he said.
McMahon said it was important for him and the county to have good county roads going into the city.
“Let’s improve the road system as it effects sales tax,” he said.
McMahon said mill and overlay costs, chip seal, washouts on the bottom of the watershed area and up keeping six miles of gravel road are budgeted yearly at $9,000.
The formation of a city will also have to consider the state’s new revenue neutral rate with Senate Bill 13, he said.
McMahon said once an entity gets into business with the RNR they won’t want the cost to continue to go up.
“Local roads come under cities’ jurisdictions and maintenance,” he said.
Vaughan said McMahon had provided an extremely valuable tool and a good long term overview for road repairs and maintenance.
“It’s a good realistic picture for a city,” he said.
Pretz asked if the county going to be taxed for adding a new city.
McMahon said everything he does has a state statute, and it is done on a state basis and not broken down by county.
Pretz said the key was liability.
“We are reasonable human beings,” he said. “We always take input but at the end of the day someone has to take liability.”