After a long discussion detailing the many demands on the budget that have to be addressed, the Chatfield City Council unanimously approved an 8.47% increase in the levy, an actual increase of $172,152.
A letter was sent to the council, signed by 26 residents insisting that any increase over 2.5% was unacceptable. Mayor Russ Smith said he understood the sentiment behind the letter. A raise in the levy is not something we do lightly. The final levy and budget will need to be approved in December. It can not show an increase but can be reduced.
Councilor Josh Broadwater said he can look at the letter and totally agree, until he looks at the numbers. Councilor Paul Novotny noted that growth stopped for several years, in 2006 and for a few years after. Because of state aid cuts, about $300,000 was taken out of the street fund and it has never been replaced. We have an ambulance debt that needs to be made whole, so it isn’t running at a deficit. Novotny concluded his remarks saying that if we don’t take care of the streets and other things when needed, it will cost us more later.
Councilor Mike Urban added that it cost $30,000 last year for trucking snow, something you just don’t budget for. Mayor Smith said he appreciates comments from residents. I also appreciate the services we have here; many communities do not offer as many services. Costs on everything go up every year. The swimming pool resulted in a bump in property taxes; a referendum was passed. No one wants to raise the levy 8%; our revenues come from property taxes. The pool made good revenue this last season, but it costs more than it brings in.
The council hopes to be able to find a way to shave off 1-2% before December. Novotny said for now he would rather be fully funded and figure out over the next few months if we can lower it some.
The Truth in Taxation hearing was set for December 9 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.
Chosen Valley Care Center
A public hearing was held in regard to the issuance of bonds for Chosen Valley Care Center, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, a tax exempt organization. Piper Jaffray will be the underwriter. The aggregate principal amount of the bonds will be near $14 million. The care center will use the money to expand and renovate the existing facility.
The care center is asking the city of Chatfield to issue the bonds on the care center’s behalf. The care center will be responsible for paying back the bonds. The city is acting as a conduit and will have no obligation to pay back the bonds. There was no comment from the public. The council voted unanimously to sell bonds on behalf of the Chosen Valley Care Center.
Other business in brief
•Bob Barth, WSB & Associates, spoke to the transition of city engineers the city of Chatfield has experienced recently. He introduced Chris Barber who will serve as the project manager for the city. Barth assured the council that the staff that works on your project behind the scenes doesn’t change.
•Chris Giesen, community development coordinator, explained a financial assistance package was approved last September to assist creation of income qualified housing along Amco Dr. SE. Grants of $10,000 were approved to the developer for each income qualified buyer. The first application for the $10,000 grant has been approved. There are 13 lots; the city will finance up to $130,000 for site improvements. Funding is to be repaid by tax increment revenues generated with TIF district No. 3-2. A resolution was approved, as recommended by EDA, authorizing the utilization of interfund loan for TIF district No. 3-2 within development district No. 3.
A public hearing will be held on October 28 to modify municipal development district 3, expanding it. The modification will authorize the Lonestone TIF district to include Amco Dr. area. After the public hearing, the council will be asked to approve the modification.
•The first consideration of Ordinance #444, allowing duplexes in R-1 zoning district was approved.
•Rocky Burnett, Ambulance Director, described plans to convert the current ambulance director’s office to an EMS lounge. The director’s office will be moved upstairs to the clerk’s area. The total cost of the project including construction and furnishings is expected to be $11,744.98. The Chatfield Firefighters Association has offered to donate $6,800 to cover construction costs. A bid to was accepted from Claude Moore to do the construction work at a cost of $6,794.98. The ambulance will use funds from its capital goods plan to pay for the rest of the project. The donation from the Firefighters Association was accepted.
•Chris Barber said a speed study would be unlikely to conclude that a speed of under 25 mph is appropriate for Burr Oak Ave. If the neighborhood wanted a speed study, the cost could be borne by the neighborhood. Barber said he recommended that they don’t go forward with a study which would be required for a speed limit lower than 25 mph. He recommended it be signed at 25 mph, as did the Public Services committee. A motion to set the speed at 25 mph was approved. Novotny voted no.
•A proposal to install a stop sign on John & Mary Dr. at the intersection with Enterprise Dr. was approved.
•The city will advertise for a new pool manager.
•The purchase of a DR trimmer was approved. Half of the cost will be paid by the city and half will be paid by Lost Creek Hiking Trail group. The city will use it to trim waterways in parks. The city’s share will be about $687.50.
•Mayor Smith read a resolution in support of IRIS, Infants Remembered in Silence. October 15 will be recognized as Infant Loss Remembrance Day.