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Council requests more information for bonding

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Schuyler City Council

During the Schuyler City Council's Nov. 16 meeting, council members George Kretz, left, Dan Baumert and Daryl Holmberg, City Clerk/Treasurer Lora Johnson, Mayor Jon Knutson, and council member Alden Kment listen to reports. The council further debated the possibility of issuing bonds to fund potential projects around Schuyler.

City officials are continuing discussions on the possibility of issuing up to $10 million in bonds for improvement projects in Schuyler.

The Schuyler City Council held a study session Nov. 9 at which it received potential cost estimates on three projects – the renovation and build of an addition to the Schuyler Police Department, $2.1 million; the renovation or rebuild of the Schuyler Municipal Swimming Pool, $1.8 to $3.65 million; and/or street improvements in the historic downtown, $800,000 per block. Those discussions continued during the council’s regular meeting on Nov. 16.

At the Nov. 9 meeting, First Ward Council Member George Kretz said he’s noted some larger cities combining their police forces with counties and that he’d be in favor of the Schuyler Police Department and Colfax County Sheriff’s Office operating out of the same building.

During the council’s regular Nov. 16 meeting, City Administrator Will De Roos reported that he’s spoken with two Colfax County commissioners but didn’t feel there was much support yet for the idea. De Roos said he will be attending the Nov. 23 Board of Commissioners meeting to further discuss it with county officials.

“If we don't put something together with the sheriff's and consolidate, I think we should build or redo the one we have. Otherwise we're going to be sitting here with another eyesore,” Council President and Third Ward Council Member Daryl Holmberg said.

As for possible plans for the pool, a variety of options previously have been presented, ranging from just the replacement of the pool’s crumbing floor to a complete rebuild of the facility. But First Ward Council Member Alden Kment questioned if the project is needed at all.

“That concrete's been there an awful long time and it's not going anywhere,” Kment said. “I just don't think there's any real reason to spend a couple million dollars … because somebody's got to pay for it and it's the people.”

As noted by Third Ward Council Member Jane Kasik, the pool isn’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Kment also expressed concern over the street improvement project as he believed things wouldn’t look that much different than how they do now.

The project would include completely redoing the streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and lighting, and the brick pavers would have to be put back in as the downtown is a historic district.

Mayor Jon Knutson said the project would help the downtown look more uniform.

The city council approved, earlier this year, looking into the possibility of issuing up to $10 million in bonds, which would potentially fund some or all of the projects.

Council members questioned what the process would be if a bond issue failed by public vote, the concern being that the city would have to wait a certain amount of time before being able to put a bond back up for election.

Theoretically the council could pass a public safety tax anticipation bond – which would be limited at a five cent levy increase – to partially fund the police station project, as noted during the meeting. That increase would be separate from the city’s usual tax levy.

“If you decide upon (the bond) and that fails, we could still go ahead and do an ordinance to get the funding to build or renovate a police station,” De Roos said. “We would have less money available because we would get $1.8 million versus the $2.1 (million) that's the anticipated cost.”

Kment expressed more concern, saying he would like to see the city receive public comments on the matter. Knutson noted there will be time for that throughout the bonding process.

“We’re not going to hoodwink anybody. We're going to have public hearings. We're going tell them costs, we're going to show them cost estimates,” Knutson said. “But if we never decide 'Yeah, let's ask the people for the money,' we'll never, ever be able to do that.”

Holmberg suggested getting blueprints of the police station and downtown streets.

“That might give everybody a general idea of what they're looking at,” he added.

De Roos told the Schuyler Sun on Nov. 18 that city officials will be looking at those blueprints and collecting more information on bond procedures and then continuing discussions.

Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at hannah.schrodt@lee.net.

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