April 8, 2015

City Council moves forward on improvement district

By Annette Tait
There is one thing Center residents agree on, even when they don’t agree on how to go about it -- the city’s deteriorating streets and aging sewer and water systems need to be upgraded.
At last Monday’s city council meeting, City of Center Engineering Services Consultant Mark Johnson, Ultieg Engineers, reviewed the firm’s proposal to assist the city in designating an improvement district to help the city pay for needed infrastructure replacement, and assessing the condition of that infrastructure in order to determine needs and next steps.
“The city doesn’t have the money in the general fund to pay for improvements like this,” Mayor Sandy Olin said. “An improvement district gives us a means to finance the work.”
City council members voted to move forward with an improvement district, which will qualify the city for low-interest financing as well as spread the costs of projects across all property owners within the district. Designating an improvement district will also help the city when applying for grant funding.
Once the improvement district has been designated, a standards committee will be appointed to determine parameters for projects and the maximum project costs per year, providing an additional means to keep annual assessments at a manageable level for property owners. Should emergency work be needed, the cost of that work would be deducted from the allocated budget for the year; only remaining budgeted funds would be available for further projects during that budget year. This process restricts spending and provides for accurate information for budgeting purposes, both for the city and its residents.

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