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Only two issues on February ballot

Two issues will be on the ballot for the Feb. 7 election in two different cities, Farmington and Desloge.

*****Farmington*****

City officials are asking voters to let them extend the capital improvement bond issue that funded construction of the Police Department. The remaining $335,000 debt on the structure located on Ste. Genevieve Avenue in the downtown area would be rolled into a new bond issue totaling $1.2 million.

The measure would not increase the taxes residents are paying. It would simply continue the existing 6-cent tax.

Funds raised by the bond issue would be used to expand and improve the existing Fire Department, which is on Harrison Street.

City Administrator Greg Beavers explained that the Fire Department needs to expand the living and working space now that it includes full-time firefighters.

&#8220The firehouse was built when the firefighters were all volunteer,” Beavers said. &#8220Now we have some full-time firefighters and they don’t have adequate working space for 24-hour operations.”

While the construction is taking place they will also modify the bays so that taller fire equipment can fit inside the firehouse.

While city officials have no immediate plans to purchase new fire equipment, Beavers explained they will most likely replace existing equipment with a combined pumper-ladder. Beavers said the taller units will be the most cost-effective way for the city to maintain its ISO rating of 4, taking into consideration the types and heights of new construction in the city. An ISO rating of 4 helps keep insurance rates low, Beavers added, and it’s a rating city officials really want to maintain.

The firehouse was one of the projects city officials had mentioned doing with TIF district money. However, Beavers said the firehouse was only discussed as a &#8220possible project” for the TIF district.

TIFs are special districts that capture a portion of the future tax revenues in a defined area for projects that promote economic development. The tax revenue being captured in the case of Farmington’s first TIF are sales taxes, but the revenue stream’s source comes not just from Farmington, but from entities outside the city, including county government, the St. Francois County Ambulance District and Sheriff’s Department.

Beavers pointed out that considering the possibility of doing the firehouse with TIF money did not obligate the city to fund the project that way. Continuing the capital improvements tax will fund the firehouse improvements sooner than the TIF could, he said.

Beavers said city officials still believe they may have to build another firehouse to handle growth in the north and west. For that he said city officials will likely propose using the one-half cent sales tax that funded construction of the Civic Center and the Centene Center. That tax is to sunset in 2014.

***** Desloge *****

City officials are proposing to annex an area containing about 50 homes in the Adams Road area that is bordered on three sides by the city.

City Administrator Eric Wiederhold said several residents in the proposed annexation have asked the city to take them in over the years. &#8220Their systems are aging and they would like to get city services,” he explained.

The area could be taken in at minimal cost to the city according to estimated figures in the city’s Plan of Intent, which is available at city hall for public inspection. According to the document, the city would be required to provide sewer services to each of the approximately 50 residences within a three-year period. The estimated cost of doing that is $260,000.

Desloge must provide sewer services because it owns its own sewer lines. Although the city owns the lines, they are maintained by Park Hills and revenue for sewer services is thus turned over to them under an agreement between the two entities.

Desloge does not own its own water lines, presently, so it would not be required to provide water services to residents. A section of the proposed annexation area is already being served by Park Hills. Most of the other residents have their own wells.

The city is preparing plans for its own water system, however, and when those are complete, water lines could be extended to that area. No one would be forced to accept an extension, however, Wiederhold stressed.

Property tax revenues from the area would be minimal, Wiederhold said, estimating that at the high end a homeowner might be paying the city $50 a year. With 50 homes, that would add up to $2,500 property tax revenue for the city.

City residents can call city hall to obtain an estimate of their individual tax impact. Wiederhold said a handful of residents might be paying more than $50, but indicated he believed there would not be many in that category.

Wiederhold said they are not seeking to annex the Adams Road area for its property tax revenue. They want to &#8220clear up” the city’s borders.

&#8220We are already providing many services to the area because of its proximity,” he said. &#8220The Sheriff’s Department does do a good job there, but we have been asked at times to assist on calls because we are nearby.”

Wiederhold said residents would gain many advantages by annexing into the city. Residents would no longer have to buy fire tags and would get regular fire and police services. Sewer connections would be provided within three years, as is required by law, and regular street services from the city would also be provided.

The advantages to the city would be clearing up its borders, improved efficiency in providing services such as fire and police, and gaining some control over street construction in the area, such as at Highley Lane.

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