The Kansas Department of Transportation lowered the exchange rate on funds that local entities could receive for road projects through the department's Federal Fund Exchange Program. That means Ford County and Dodge City could receive a smaller portion of allotted federal money for street and road projects.

The 15 percent reduction has raised the ire of local officials, but engineers in charge of managing city and county road projects have said that the reductions don't amount to a great deal, considering their overall budgets.

KDOT, like most Kansas government agencies, is under tough economic pressure and the agency is required to match a certain portion of federal money with state funds. KDOT has stated the matching requirement could have whittled the program away to nothing.

The amount of money allotted to Ford County is based on population. Chris O'Neal, Ford County Road and Bridge superintendent, estimates that about $250,000 is earmarked for the county. The reduction could mean almost $38,000 less returned to the county.

Ray Slattery, director of engineering services for Dodge City said the city typically sees about $300,000 from the exchange - equaling a potential cut of $45,000.

The county road and bridge department operates on an approximately $3.2 million budget, according to O'Neal. He said the exchange rate decrease should not affect decisions on potential road work.

"We'll get done what needs to get done," O'Neal said. "It really won't affect our overall budget."

Slattery said the city would be able to deal with the decreased levels of funding.

"We took that into account," Slattery said. "We don't specify that funding source for any one specific project."

Some of the city money is earmarked to go toward debt payments and to offset overages, according to Slattery.

The exchange funds can elevate projects that may otherwise not get accomplished. The 113 Road project between Comanche Avenue and Wyatt Earp Boulevard may not have been undertaken without funding from the federal government, according to O'Neal.

Local jurisdictions do have the option to receive 100 percent of federal funds, but the US Department of Transportation tacks on myriad requirements that often add significantly to the cost of a potential project.

Slattery said it's often just as cost-effective to get funding through the state at a reduced rate, and there is much more local control over projects. Slattery said studies have shown that projects cost 25 percent less when communities handle the administration versus being forced to adhere to conditions set forth by outside agencies.

"It allows communities to design, bid, and administer projects according to their own specifications," Slattery said. "There's a lot more flexibility to using the money."

To contact the writer email sedger@dodgeglobe.com