It's an announcement that may not get a lot of attention, but one that is significant for local governmental agencies.
Governor Jeff Colyer announced June 11 that the Kansas Department of Transportation is increasing the exchange rate for local public agencies seeking to fund local projects with state funds through the Federal Fund Exchange Program, returning the exchange rate to $.90 in state funds made available for every $1.00 in federal funds awarded a local agency.
For the city of Newton, it could mean more funds available for street projects when the city makes use of the exchange.
“If the $0.90 on the dollar had been in place for 2018, that would have meant approximately $34,000 more dollars to the city for the funds exchanged,” said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city of Newton.
For 2018, the exchange rate was $.75. From 2011 to 2017, the rate was $.90. Statewide, approximately $30 million in federal funds has been eligible for the program. The new rate will take effect with all new contracts.
The Federal Fund Exchange Program is a voluntary program allowing local public agencies the option to sell all or a portion of their federal funds for state transportation dollars, which provides greater flexibility of use and allows local agencies the opportunity to fund larger projects that may not have been possible with federal funding.
“By participating in the Federal Fund Exchange Program, we are hoping to increase the control that localities have over their transportation projects and make sure that funds are available when they need them,” said Governor Colyer. “It is important to me that local governments have access to resources for local projects with less federal regulation and bureaucratic red tape. We want Kansas solutions for Kansas transportation issues.”
Federal funds exchanged for state funds can be used for local projects such as road construction, maintenance or preservation, safety improvements, sidewalks, ADA ramps, bridge construction, rehabilitation or repair, and low water crossings. The funds exchange program allows local agencies to deposit federal funds over a period of years to bank funds for larger projects or to fund projects that would not have fallen under federal requirements.
“Restoration of the $.90/$1.00 ratio in the federal funds exchange program will allow counties to further stretch our transportation dollars. This means safer local roads and bridges for our citizens, farmers and businesses depending on them,” said Max Dibble, Phillips County Commissioner and Kansas Association of Counties President.