Four public hearings scheduled for city council meeting

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


When the Washington City Council meets at 6 p.m. in the Washington Public Library, the community will have the opportunity to give its input on four issues involving city spending that are coming up.

The agenda for the meeting lists four public hearings, which will gather input on the wellness park, the new fire station, a coming water and sewer project, and the annual budget.

The first public hearing to authorize the issuance of $1.1 million in general obligation capital loan notes deals with the construction of the Wellness Park. Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that the bond issuance is the only one the city plans to do for the construction of the $2.2 million park. He said the city is working on in-kind donations for the park to get the cost down.

?The overall funding we have secured for that at this time is about $1.6 million,? Hinson said. ?The way they present this for the bond proceedings is misleading. We are planning on borrowing $1 million. The ?not to exceed $1.1 million? is lawyers.?

The Wellness Park will be constructed on 46 acres along Fifth Street and North D Avenue. Recently the council approved moving ahead with the final designs.

The city sold about 5 acres of land on the proposed Wellness Park to the Y to be used for the construction of a new building. After the failure of a bond referendum to help fund the building, the YMCA announced plans to collect funding for a new $9 million facility to be constructed at West Fifth Street and North D Avenue as well as future expansions. The Washington City Council also approved partnering with the YMCA of Washington County to seek a mutual grant from Enhance Iowa to benefit both the Y?s building project and the construction of the proposed Wellness Park.

The next public hearing is for $2.3 million general obligation capital loan notes. Hinson said this is for the city?s sewer and streets project this year. He said this includes $1 million for sewers, for which the city is applying for a $600,000 community block grant to put toward the project.

A public hearing also will be held on the issuance of a $1.85 million of local option sales and service tax bonds. Hinson said this is to begin building the new fire station. He said on June 1, 2018, two city bonds ? which were used to construct the new library and the downtown streetscape project ? would retire, which would give the city the ability to bond for the project without raising taxes or requiring a bond referendum.

A spatial needs survey done in 2014 showed the city offices need about 25,000 square feet, and are currently housed in a 9,400 square foot building. The proposed designs total $2.5 million for the new fire station and about $1.2 million for the renovation of the municipal building. The council agreed to the plan after a proposal to use the former library building as city hall was rejected by the current council. The new plan calls for the construction of a new fire station and will house the police department and city hall in the current municipal building.

The council also will be able to give input on the proposed F.Y. 2019 budget before the city submits the budget to the state for approval.

Under the proposed budget, Hinson said the tax rate for the city would remain the same for the seventh year.

The property tax levy will remain at $15.82 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. The city budget is due to the state on March 15.