Daily Archives: April 8, 2009

County kicks in $4 million for Big Ditch repairs

111-061507bigditch_fs3_standalone_prod_affiliate_801 Sedgwick County commissioners agreed Wednesday to kick in $4 million toward the cost of repairing the Big Ditch, which provides flood protection for much of the area.

About $10 million in repairs need to be made so the levees can be certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Additional repairs will be required later. The county is splitting the cost with the city. The county will pay an additional $1 million next year.

The city and county missed a Feb. 2 deadline to have the Big Ditch certified.

Decertification could require thousands of homeowners to buy flood insurance or pay higher rates for existing policies.

FEMA is drawing new flood maps. Local leaders say they hope they can make the necessary repairs to the project so it can be certified before the new maps could put more properties in flood zones.

The Big Ditch is the first levee system in the country to undergo accreditation, part of stricter guidelines put in force since Hurricane Katrina decimated parts of New Orleans, where levees broke.

Topeka OKs sales tax increase for streets

WICHITA — As Wichita struggles to find enough money to repair its deteriorating streets, another Kansas community has chosen a solution for its street problems.

Topeka residents approved a half-cent sales tax Tuesday to fix streets and other infrastructure. The proposal to raise the sales tax to 7.95 cents on the dollar was approved by 57 percent of voters.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports: The 10-year tax takes effect Oct. 1, with proceeds going to pay costs of “maintenance and improvements of existing streets, gutters, curbs, sidewalks, alleys and street lighting.”

Wichita has more than 500 miles of streets in “critical” condition and isn’t spending enough to keep up with the deterioration, we reported in February.

Pro-life West Point grad files for Congress

mugmikepompeoRepublican National Committeeman Mike Pompeo has filed to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard.

Pompeo is the second candidate to formally enter the race for the Kansas 4th District seat. State Sen. Dick Kelsey filed last month. Both are members of the party’s conservative wing.

A West Point graduate and former Army officer, Pompeo is president of Sentry International, an oilfield and industrial machinery company. He is a founding partner of the aviation subcontracting firm Thayer Aerospace.

A self-described “pro-life Republican,” Pompeo vowed in a statement announcing his candidacy to fight the Obama Administration, which he said “is promoting central planning and a larger government at the expense of future generations.”

Pompeo’s filing in the race was not unexpected. He signaled his intentions at the Republican Kansas Day event on Jan. 31, the same day that Tiahrt announced he would give up his House seat to run against 1st District Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Topeka.

Pompeo and Kelsey are the first two in what is expected to be a crowded Republican primary for the rare vacant House seat.

Other names that have surfaced as potentially in play include state Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Bel Aire; former Bush Administration political aide Matt Schlapp; Schlapp’s mother, Wichita City Council member Sue Schlapp; state Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita; state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick; state Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence and Wichita businessman and entrepreneur Wink Hartman.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Raj Goyle of Wichita has been mentioned as a possible candidate, although he has made no announcements of his intentions.

Tiahrt to make Senate race official

tiahrt_todd2Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt plans to take the last step he needs to take to make his Senate candidacy official, the Associated Press reports.

His campaign says he plans to file for the office Thursday, filling out the necessary paperwork at 10 a.m. at the Sedgwick County Courthouse, the AP says.

Tiahrt will be the second Republican to file for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Sam Brownback, who plans to run for governor. Rep. Jerry Moran also has filed, setting up a Republican primary in August 2010.