BOCC authorizes funding for road infrastructure improvements and new fire station
Today, Johnson County’s Board of County Commissioners approved two actions in the areas of infrastructure improvements and fire protection to support the recently announced Panasonic Energy project in De Soto.
The BOCC authorized funding not to exceed $15 million, with $7.5 million for improvements to road infrastructure, and $7.5 million towards the construction and equipping of a fire station with hazardous material suppression capability to be constructed on donated land.
“Cooperation at all levels of government is essential in the attraction of this major development project,” said Chairman Ed Eilert, BOCC. “This development and the infrastructure improvements will provide many benefits to Johnson County and the region, including the long-awaited first major development in the site of the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.”
Road infrastructure improvements
Current infrastructure near the Panasonic development area is generally two-lane roads, not constructed to support the volume and type of traffic associated with an industrial facility.
Due to the heavy industrial use the Panasonic facility will require, Johnson County was asked to work with the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Kansas Department of Transportation and the City of De Soto to develop a comprehensive transportation plan to accommodate such intensive uses and the impact upon the development site.
KDOT is seeking the county’s cooperation with the state and city of De Soto to finance the transportation infrastructure improvements needed in support of this facility. The state has committed $26 million of economic development funds to the improvement of road infrastructure. These funds require a 25% local match of $6.5 million.
Johnson County will provide the $6.5 million matching funds, and an additional $1 million of county funds will be used by KDOT as a contingency or a potential state Building a Stronger Economy grant match. The county will use $7.5 million of Countywide Support Funds for this commitment. Future county support in the form of $2 million total could come from the County Assistance
ed Road System (commonly known as the CARS program) funding in 2023 and 2024.
“These road infrastructure improvements would have needed to be made in the future as Johnson County continues to develop,” said Jay Leipzig, director of Johnson County’s Planning, Housing and Community Development Department. “In that scenario, these improvements would have been financed by local governments with the state providing little, if any support. However, the Panasonic project funding agreements provide an opportunity to implement infrastructure improvements in a coordinated, shared and impactful manner with the State of Kansas and the city of De Soto.”
The state’s request for county participation in the Panasonic project included a fire station with hazardous material suppression capability to be located on the former Sunflower site. Sunflower Redevelopment, LLC, committed to donating land for a fire station in the First Amendment of the Predevelopment Agreement approved by the BOCC on Feb. 10. The construction of a fire station with hazardous material suppression capability will benefit the site and the anticipated facility.
On July 13, Governor Laura Kelly announced the city of De Soto as the site for the new Panasonic Energy facility. KDOC developed a unique economic incentive package entitled APEX Funding to recruit similar scale facilities into the state and for this project.
According to summary information provided by the KDOC, Panasonic is making a $4 billion capital investment, and employing approximately 4,000 employees after two years operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. KDOC also anticipates a one-time economic boost to the economy of 16,551 temporary jobs.