Road contractors in Kansas are worried about their future business after the state Department of Transportation announced it was delaying the bids on some April resurfacing projects.
Kansas Contractors Association Vice President Bob Totten says some of his members began to hear about the delays on Monday from KDOT officials. While the projects don't officially go out for bid until next month, contractors typically hear about the projects 45 days before bidding to help them craft the bid or even decide if they want to bid on the project, says Totten.
Totten says his members are "disappointed" and worried "the work will disappear."
In the last several years the state has swept a billion dollars from KDOT to help balance the state budget.
The agency has already delayed preservation projects, but it shifted $50 million from the 2017 fiscal year to this year to make sure contractors had work this spring.
But KDOT now says it is delaying the bids of 13 projects around the state, none in northeast Kansas, until after a new consensus revenue estimate next month. "We're simply delaying the projects to May," says KDOT spokesman Steve Schwartz. But he admits a particularly poor revenue estimate could push the 13 projects into the fall or beyond.
Many top officials expect the estimate that comes out April 20 to show tax revenue in Kansas continuing to fall short of expectations.
Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said on KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend that he expects tax revenue to be revised downward. “We’re continuing to see our sales tax come in $5 to $15 million less than what we had projected per month and I think that’s going to continue," said Sullivan. "Really the wild card at this point is our income tax.”
That opinion was echoed by state Rep. Ron Rykman, Jr. who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "I agree the estimates will be reduced from where they are currently," Rykman said on this week's Statehouse Blend.
KDOT says that major projects around the state, including the big project in Johnson County where I-435, I- 35 and K-10 all come together and the south Lawrence Traffic Way are moving forward without delay.