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Rushford Village looks at fiscal impact report

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jul 5th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Village Government

By Kirsten Zoellner

The City of Rushford Village was one of four entities that joined in participating in a wide-scope fiscal impact report by consultant Mike Bubany, of David Drown Associates. The intention of the report is to gain better understanding how capital improvement projects and substantial purchases by the cities and school district, bonded or funded otherwise, will impact residents. Bubany was on hand, July 2, at the Village council meeting to discuss the model, the future of sewer and water utilities, and how road improvement projects might affect Village residents.

Utility reserves for the Village need to be improved and Bubany recommended it be reviewed annually. “You never want to fall behind,” he stressed.

Looking at water, Councilor Gordon Johnson noted the Village had spent some its reserves recently in an effort to keep infrastructure costs down. A $6 per month increase was instituted in March of this year, but Bubany noted the idea is to break even or slightly increase the reserve, so it appears an annual increase of some amount will be needed. When a new utility rate between a one and three percent annual increase was entered into the model, the Village reserves leveled out.

In looking at sewer, Bubany noted, “You want the sewer fund to be self-sufficient.” Using 2012 audit information, Bubany included all accounted activity to set up the model structure. “We’ll play at this until it works,” he continued referencing the rates. The Village is paying a portion, 9.39 percent or $8,600 annually, to the city of Rushford for the waste water improvement project that the city bonded for, which benefits the some Village residents.

“It appears with some adjustments our two funds should be in balance,” said Mayor Dale Schwanke.

As for street improvement, the Village is considering improvements to several areas, including Rush Creek Roe, County Line Road, Laura Lane, Ridgeview Road, and portions of Aspen Road. Overlayment in some south Rushford areas is also being considered.

Some of the projects would be done through potential assessments, while others with overall tax. Johnson noted that the Village is picking roads based on higher maintenance needs in an effort to reduce the need for annual crushed rock, grading, winter rock, and dust control. Current annual crushed rock maintenance costs were estimated at $4,400 per mile, plus grading.

According to Bubany, if the Village can account for 20 percent or more of the total bond issue with assessments, it can avoid opening up a petition and vote referendum. One option, he suggested, would be to a Minnesota loan program which would allow for a midi-loan for phase 1, or the unassessed pieces, and a micro-loan for phase 2, the assessed pieces. An estimate of $519,000 for the projects was discussed.

“I think we ought to be moving ahead with this,” noted Councilor Hamilton Peterson.

“I agree,” added Johnson. “Let’s bring it to the public and let them tell us what they’d like to see done. It’s never easy to spend that kind of money. We’re known for being pretty frugal, but you have to pay one way or another. Road rock is our single biggest expenditure every year. Costs are not going to go down. I would hope a public hearing would give us some direction.”

A public hearing for the road issues has been set for August 6. The maximum figure, which the Village is not committed to, is $550,000 to include potential engineering costs.

The meeting was adjourned to continue July 9 at the public Comprehensive Plan Input Session. The next regularly scheduled council meeting is July 16, at 7pm, at the Village Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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