Saturday, April 19, 2014

Street fix more costly than expected

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 2/24/2014

POMONA — The city needs to get its spending under control, Joann Hancock said.

Pomona City Council members met 4:30 p.m. Friday to discuss approving two charter ordinances — one that would allow the city to issue bonds for road improvements and another to combine the bonds for road repairs and previous bonds for the sewer lagoon for a lower interest rate.

POMONA — The city needs to get its spending under control, Joann Hancock said.

Pomona City Council members met 4:30 p.m. Friday to discuss approving two charter ordinances — one that would allow the city to issue bonds for road improvements and another to combine the bonds for road repairs and previous bonds for the sewer lagoon for a lower interest rate.

Hancock, former Pomona mayor, said the move was evidence city funds had been misused.

“This ain’t right. And now you throw it on the taxpayer because you can’t understand how to get spending under control, and I think it’s despicable,” Hancock said.

Though the city has a 1 1/2 cent sales tax specifically slated for road repairs, the intersections of the streets near West Franklin middle and high schools turned out to be more costly than just a normal repair, Marie Seneca, Pomona mayor, said in explaining the charter ordinances. In fact, the fix ended up costing the city more than what was allotted by a $188,100 Community Development Block Grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce, which Pomona received for the intersections’ repair.

The city had to use $182,831.73 for the special intersection project, using money from the highway fund, general fund, the sales tax street project fund and the capital improvement fund, according to city documents.

City council members voted Friday to approve both Charter 17 and Charter 18, which would help the city pay for the repairs, and give city residents 60 days to petition against the move, Seneca said.

“There will be a 60-day waiting period during which the public can protest those charter ordinances, and I’ve been told they are going to protest those,” Seneca said. “That’s done in the form of a petition and if that equals 10 percent of the registered voters who voted in the last election, the next step for the city would be to hold a special election for the issuance of the bonds.”

During Friday’s special meeting, Hancock said issuing bonds for street repairs needed to go to the vote of the people.

If the city’s move to issue bonds goes forward, the amount of the bonds for the street repairs would be a little more than $1.2 million, Seneca said, and then would be combined with the $192,606.18 left to pay on the sewer lagoon bonds.

The savings of combining the two bonds would be $48,000 over the life of the bonds, Rick Smith, city council member, said.

Though the 1 1/2 cent sales tax that goes toward the street repair fund generated $80,336.14 in 2013, that money wasn’t and isn’t enough to make the necessary street repairs.

“Many people felt when they voted [the 1 1/2 cent sales tax] in, we wouldn’t have to have bonds, but they didn’t realize the extent of how much repair we need and the enormous amount of money it will cost,” Seneca said. “The amount we raise each year would just be a fraction and other streets are deteriorating and how do you decide which street is first? Why not all at once? Because the downside is that they all come up for repairs at the same time.”

To pay for the bonds for the street repairs, the city would have to raise the mill levy, which on average would be a 6.73-mill increase, according to city documents.

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