TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas officials authorized issuing $45.4 million in bonds on Wednesday for the next phase of construction on the $650 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan.
Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative leaders who comprise the state finance council approved the bonds during a brief meeting at the Statehouse. Of the total bonds issued, $40 million will be matched with the same amount in federal funding to construct a central utilities building for the new lab.
"This is big, delicate, step-by-step process," Brownback said. "This continues to have a lot of nurturing to move this process forward."
The federal government is constructing the lab near the Kansas State campus to conduct research on plant and animal diseases. It will replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y.
The remaining $5.4 million will be used to demolish a grain mill on the site and rebuild it at a new location on the Kansas State University campus. The new mill will combine operations of the grain science and animal science departments under one milling operation to make feed for animals and food for humans, said Kansas State spokeswoman Sue Peterson. Private funds will be matched with the bonds to construct it.
Landon Fulmer, the governor's policy director, says the Department of Homeland Security expects to begin final site preparation and construction of the utility plant in early 2012. Construction on the lab is supposed to start in 2012, with operations transferred from Plum Island by as early as 2017.
The lab would research foot-and-mouth and other dangerous animal diseases that can be passed to humans. Kansas State already conducts similar research at the Biosecurity Research Center, which is located near where the new lab will be constructed.
Fulmer said the federal funding is expected to be released in February when a site-specific risk assessment report is completed and released to the public. Officials from Kansas were to travel to Washington this week for more discussions with the Department of Homeland Security about the project.
The finance council was required to approve issuing the bonds after legislation signed earlier this year by Brownback stripping that responsibility from the Kansas Bioscience Authority after the agency came under legislative scrutiny. Among concerns were the authority's operations and an investigation by the Johnson County district attorney into its finances.