Jamestown City Councilman David Steele said the council and city staff will need to work together to try and come up with a plan on how to finance future projects Tuesday, Oct. 19, during a Public Works Committee meeting.

David Steele
Keith Norman / The Jamestown Sun
David Steele Keith Norman / The Jamestown Sun

The council and city staff need to study the issue of funding water main replacement costs and see if there are alternative solutions other than placing special assessments on Jamestown residents, Steele said in a text message Wednesday to The Sun.

“I do not have any magic solutions but I believe we need to look at what other cities in the country are doing whether to continue what we are doing or another approach,” he said.

Jamestown resident Robert Naslund had expressed concerns about the amount his residential property is being assessed for a water line repair during the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

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Naslund said he did some research and is being assessed $30,700 for the water line repair and is being charged $205 a month for “a glass of water.” He said he is being charged twice as much as his neighbors.

“I think it is excessive, and I think it is not equitable,” he said. “ … I’m retired. I don’t have $31,000 just laying around to pay for that. I know prices have gone up but not that much.”

Naslund said the only reason he was given that he is being assessed so much is because his residential property is on an irregular lot.

“What difference does that make,” he said. “I have one line going into that pipe. I don’t use any more water than anybody else. If I did, I would be charged more. I can’t see why I’m being charged more than anyone else.”

Steele said the council and city staff need to come up with a solution to the costs of projects constantly increasing during the Public Works Committee meeting. The Public Works Committee was considering approval of a resolution pertaining to water main replacement district 22-61, which spans approximately 16 blocks located in the southwest and southeast parts of Jamestown, to set up and establish the district.

Ben Aaseth, project engineer with Interstate Engineering, told the Public Works Committee that he is working on a preliminary hearing report that will summarize the cost of the different options for the proposed work of a water main project in the southwest and southeast parts of Jamestown.

“I am looking for a motion to approve, but keep in mind that once we have the cost of these, we need to know how we are going to handle that cost for the residential areas,” he said.

Councilman Dan Buchanan asked if the state of North Dakota has any intention of making infrastructure funding available for next year.

City Engineer Travis Dillman said legislative funding is in the works and the state of North Dakota is talking about infrastructure for municipalities.

“We got to keep our piece of the pie on that because that is vital,” Buchanan said. “You can't grow a city. You can’t grow an economy without proper infrastructure. We need this and we need it now.”

In the end, the Public Works Committee unanimously approved a resolution pertaining to water main replacement district No. 22-61 to set up and establish the district. The item will move to the City Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 1, at City Hall.

The Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee unanimously approved the job description for a city planner/geographic information system coordinator with a salary range of $5,388 to $7,767 per month.

It is a new position that the City Council recommended adding to the 2022 budget, said Jay Sveum, deputy auditor/human resources officer. The person in this position will develop plans that plot out the best use of land and geographic resources, be responsible for planning resource-efficient urban infrastructures and be responsible for the operation, development, continued expansion and maintenance of the geographic information system.

Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said the geographic information system is basically putting all of the city’s infrastructure in a computer database. If someone knows how to run the system, he said, city staff will be able to know where all the water lines are, what the depths are and where they cross gas lines.

“It (geographic information system) should be a great use by a number of our departments,” Sveum said.

The City Council has to give final approval of the job description and salary for the city planner/geographic information system coordinator position at its next meeting.

In other business, the Finance and Legal Committee:

  • unanimously approved without recommendation to consider approval of the adjustments to utility rates effective in 2022. A 5% increase in water rates was approved in the 2022 budget. An increase of about 5% to the wastewater rates was also approved in the 2022 budget.
  • unanimously approved a request from the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. economic development funds for a Jamestown Tourism grant in the amount of $75,000 with the city share being $60,000 to be paid from the city sales tax fund.

The Public Works Committee:

  • unanimously approved entering into an engineering agreement with Interstate Engineering for wastewater treatment facility improvements.
  • heard from City Administrator Sarah Hellekson that the city of Jamestown received $3,000 for the portion of the value of the commodities that Recycling Center of North Dakota LLC sold in the third quarter. It was the first time since the contract began between the city of Jamestown and the Recycling Center that the Recycling Center was able to pay the city of Jamestown its portion.