Sewer project: City sales tax may pay for Jamestown sewer workA planned $8.5 million sewer project this summer could be paid for with proceeds from the Jamestown city sales tax, according to Jeff Fuchs, city administrator, speaking at the City Finance and Legal Committee’s regular meeting Tuesday.
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
A planned $8.5 million sewer project this summer could be paid for with proceeds from the Jamestown city sales tax, according to Jeff Fuchs, city administrator, speaking at the City Finance and Legal Committee’s regular meeting Tuesday.
“We can afford to pay from the sales tax and the sanitary utility,” he said. “There would then be no special assessments.”
Annual bond payments on the $8.5 million project are estimated at about $545,000 per year for 20 years.
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen said creating special assessment districts would be difficult.
“This project has such large-scale benefits it’s difficult to see where special assessments would be,” she said. “This also reduces the special assessment burden, which is a positive.”
The project will route sewer lines differently from lift station to lift station and add a new forced sewer main from the downtown area to the main city lift station. The plan is designed to handle a larger amount of water through the sewer system and alleviate the need to pump sewage directly into the river in flood events.
Fuchs said the current 1 percent city sales tax expires in 2016. To sell the bonds, the city would either need to extend the sales tax until 2032 or the city could develop another plan for meeting the bond payments after 2016.
Fuchs did say the repairs to some sewer lines, estimated at about $600,000 of the project, could be special assessed to the property owners served by those lines.
The 1 percent city sales tax generates more than $2 million per year. It is split evenly between the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and the city of Jamestown.
The Finance and Legal Committee also met with the board of Buffalo City Tourism Foundation in a special meeting prior to its regular meeting.
The two groups went over the proposed contract section by section with few differences.
The only point of contention was the financial commitment from Jamestown to BCTF. The draft contract proposed by BCTF included $299,000 in funding for 2013 and an 8 percent increase to $323,000 in 2014. The BCTF contract left the years 2014 and 2015 to be determined.
“I’m not in favor of the next year’s commitment,” Andersen said.
Fuchs said no city agency has guaranteed funding increases for the next year.
“We’re talking about an 8 percent increase without seeing a budget plan,” he said.
The city and BCTF reached no final agreement on the contract. The next draft will contain a range of $299,000 to $323,000 for the 2014 funding, Fuchs said. The BCTF is also required to submit a budget proposal by Sept. 1 for the 2014 budget.
In other business, an application for a subsidy for the Jamestown Taxi Service was authorized. The subsidy is an annual process. The subsidy is only available to Jamestown Taxi and amounts to about $40,000 per year. The money originates with the U.S. Department of Transportation and is administered by the NDDOT.
“As important as a subsidy is to have a taxi service when none is available, I think it is abuse to continue it when other services are available,” Andersen said.
Currently Last Leg Taxi service also operates. A third company was issued a city license in January but has not begun operations.
Doug Fogderud, owner of Jamestown Taxi, said the subsidy was critical to his business’ survival.
“I have a long history of numbers that would indicate Jamestown Taxi couldn’t exist without the subsidy,” he said.
The committee voted by a 3-1 margin in favor of applying for the subsidy with Ramone Gumke absent and Andersen dissenting.
The committee also requested the city administrator expand the search for individuals interested in filling the city forester position on a contract basis. The first search for proposals yielded no applicants.
The Finance and Legal Committee approved a request by The Depot for an on-sale beer and wine license and authorized the city attorney to draft a new inspection ordinance for taxi services licensed by the city.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com