8/15/2013 3:32:00 PM Wyoming road plan described in detail at information meeting
by DENISE MARTIN
The mayor and city staff members met with four citizens last week, who came to city hall for the first of three information sessions about Wyoming’s road reconstruction bond vote. Mayor Eric Peterson answered questions for one hour about how the plan for the $2.7 million in financing is meant to work. Wyoming residents are being asked to authorize borrowing $2.7 million to start tackling a priority list of deteriorating streets. Balloting is Tuesday, Aug 27.
Asst. City Administrator Robb Linwood and Public Works Supervisor Jason Windingstad were also on hand at last week’s info meeting. Windingstad said, as a city taxpayer himself, he fully supports the plan to use bonds to get six miles within the oldest neighborhoods rebuilt and start addressing infrastructure. “We need to do something,” Windingstad continued, “it’s getting out of hand.” He added, “It’s a shame” that he is sending three guys out to repeatedly fill potholes when there’s many other places to apply that manpower and money. Mayor Peterson explained that Wyoming already collects $500,000 that is set up into the budget/tax levy for street work. Payments for the bond sale annually will be about $300,000. There won’t be a “tax hike” to accomplish the referendum because this is already part of taxes.
The wording on the ballot for any bonding, under state law, must include informing people that the financing affects their taxes-- but the city will not increase property tax for debt service, he stressed. If citizens authorize the financing on Aug 27 the six miles in the worst shape get done right away. Engineering is laying the groundwork for bidding out projects right now. The city’s bituminous maintenance schedule is based on engineering analysis of current conditions of streets in both the vintage part of Wyoming and in the former township area as well. (Greenway is a state aid route and qualifies for outside funds and will also need an up-sized sewerline so this project stands alone.) Windingstad said staff is very aware of road condition along Pioneer and Indian Trail, for example. The streets were all “rated” starting with those needing attention urgently.
Mayor Peterson commented that Pioneer might become a state aid route, too, with cooperation from Chisago City, where the road also travels within. Wyoming and Chisago City will investigate state aid designation. The approximately $200,000 left in the street fund, after annual bond debt service, continues to build for the next phase and the next phase of projects, or if there is an emergency priority situation related to a street ithis account could be tapped. When the bonding debt is retired in 10 years, the mayor said the worst miles will have been accomplished, and there should be a balance for continued projects. More bonding might also be pursued. “I wanted to make sure this (funding approach) is sustainable,” Peterson continued.
He said he based this on what the City of Shoreview has been doing for over 20 years. In the past; Wyoming elected officials did not move ahead on street maintenance and reconstruction needs because work got paid for through assessments against the neighboring property owners, and “assessing people is not something officeholders like to do,” Peterson explained. So, existing streets were basically ignored. If the bond sale is authorized this new plan will eliminate assessments for existing streetwork. And, any incoming developments will continue to provide their own new streets at the developers’ costs. This plan is just to repair, do needed maintenance and get existing streets up to modern urban standards (bituminous depth, width, etc.)
Wyoming could just use the half-million property tax revenues for a “pay as you go” type of approach, but Peterson said it’s more cost effective to borrow for a large scale project phase and save on inflation, mobilization and other factors. He calculated that the referendum “jump start” saves $25,000 per mile, at current year prices with one contractor getting bulk prices and only initiating one equipment mobilization-- versus bidding out a small, less attractive mileage road package annually. Peterson also stressed this fund is designated for roads. It can not be used for a municipal pool or city hall. “If we don’t spend it on roads we can’t touch it.” There was another informational meeting yesterday (August 14) and one more meeting is set for August 21, at 7 p.m. Residents are asked to vote Tuesday Aug. 27 at Maranatha Church, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.