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Commissioners approve MPO agreement

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County commissioners Monday approved an agreement with the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a federally-mandated program comprising five jurisdictions in the Manhattan area.

The city of Manhattan and the surrounding “urbanized area” (including a portion of southwest Pottawatomie County) was mandated to form the MPO last year after the city exceeded a population threshold of 50,000.

According to the agreement, the MPO is “responsible for the continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process mandated by federal law and state regulations.”

“For those jurisdictions that are in the area, there’s really no choice on this,” County Counselor John Watt told commissioners.

The Flint Hills MPO includes the city of Manhattan, Riley County, Pottawatomie County, Junction City and Geary County.

According to figures presented by a representative of the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Flint Hills MPO will have an operating budget of $130,808 in 2013, $420,547 in 2014; $359,534 in 2015, $142,145 in 2016, and $144,808 in 2017.

The MPO is funded through federal and state transportation funds, with each jurisdiction required to provide a local match based on population.

Pottawatomie County’s three percent local match to the MPO is estimated at $3,116 annually through 2017, for a total contribution of $15,581.

The MPO will be governed by a board comprising representatives from each jurisdiction. The board will eventually hire a transportation planner, a director, and an administrative assistant.

In other business Monday:

• Leu Lowrey, public works director, said Kansas Department of Transportation testing engineers would be available January 28, for a joint meeting with Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee County Commissioners regarding the Belvue Bridge.

Commissioners asked Lowrey to arrange the joint meeting.

• Commissioners endorsed a proposal by Tim Eisenbarth, Noxious Weed director, who said Howie’s Recycling, Manhattan, is interested in participating in the county’s recycling of electronic waste (E-waste).

Howie’s would provide packing materials and pallets and pick up E-waste from the county landfill every two months, with the county providing some labor.

The county had discontinued accepting E-waste several months ago due to issues with disposal.

• Scott Schwinn, sanitarian, said the landfill shipped 8,322 tons of materials in 2012, an increase of about 3.7 percent over last year.

The landfill also took in 900 tons of construction debris, slightly lower than last year’s total.

Schwinn also reported on the rate increase at the landfill. Effective January 1, the cost for loads over 400 pounds went from $36 to $43 per ton. Loads under 400 pounds remain at $10 per ton, Schwinn said.

• Gregg Webster, zoning administrator, reported 15 building permits with a value of more than $3.4 million were issued during December.

The permits included an addition to the Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Wamego, valued at about $1 million.

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