The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board of Directors unanimously approved a request Monday, Sept. 13, for $50,000 to contract preliminary engineering for cost estimates of extending utilities to proposed housing development sites.

“Housing is always one question on where these people are going to live,” said Corry Shevlin, business development director for JSDC. “This is the beginning step of putting some numbers together of seeing if there is any JSDC contribution to this issue that is facing the city and the county.”

Shevlin said in a memo on Sept. 7 to the JSDC Existing Business Committee that the request of the $50,000 would be funded 100% by the city of Jamestown from the economic development fund.

The preliminary engineering work will give an estimate of what it will cost to get infrastructure to the lots.

Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said the preliminary cost estimates are for infrastructure for residential development. He said the city is asking for an engineering study to see what it will take to get necessary utilities to the developments.

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“Because even the potential developers or builders, they don't have that information,” he said. “It is just very clear ... they are not going to do it unless we do something.”

Mark Klose, chairman of the Stutsman County Commission and the county representative on the JSDC board, said the city used to have a 1% sales tax revenue source for economic development and the city of Jamestown took 50% of that, or a half cent, for city infrastructure uses.

“I’m somewhat reluctant to spend more of the sales tax money for that based on them already getting 50% of it,” he said after the meeting. “So if they are going to be taking more than that, and I asked the question yesterday, "how far are you going to go with this?'”

Klose said the JSDC dollars that were approved for the preliminary engineering work should be used for primary sector job creation.

Heinrich said when the city took a half percent of the city sales tax, it was dedicated to buying down a portion of the special assessments.

The Jamestown City Council passed an ordinance in 2010 to amend and reenact a section in the Jamestown city code pertaining to the dedication of 1% city sales tax proceeds.

Section 25.5-24 in the Code of the City of Jamestown states:

  • Fifty percent of the 1% city sales tax shall be dedicated for economic and jobs development.
  • Fifty percent of the 1% city sales tax shall be dedicated to payment of the city’s share of special assessments on city public works projects as they shall be created from time to time, including but not limited to the city’s sanitary and storm sewer systems, and infrastructure within the city pertaining to economic development and the annual $280,000 on the current wastewater treatment plant debt service.

Section 25.5-26 states:

  • A tax imposed by this article shall be in full force and effect through Dec. 31, 2018.

Heinrich said the developer traditionally pays for infrastructure costs but nobody is willing to pay those costs. Some areas are not connected to infrastructure.

Klose said approving money for the preliminary engineering work will give the city some information on what options they have and what they have access to.

“I’m not against the study,” Klose said.