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Council sets date for CID hearing

Development company R.L. Jones wants to add an additional tax on all purchases made in it’s shopping center to generate more revenue to be used for improvements and expansion.

R.L Jones operates the shopping plaza near the corner of Karsch Boulevard and Potosi Street. The plaza includes Walgreens, Tractor Supply, Fashion Bug, a discount store, a Mexican restaurant, movie rental and other shops. The developers, Ramona and Lloyd Jones, also intend to expand the center by razing and expanding into some neighboring trailer parks and other adjoining home and commercial lots. 

But this isn’t the developer’s first attempt at getting a CID to help with improvements and expansion. Several months ago the firm requested a CID be formed with the resulting revenue to help fix the parking lot, put in infrastructure, and do cosmetic upgrades on the existing building.

On the initial request, the council came under fire from some residents who opposed the CID. In the end the council denied the attempt to form the special taxing district.

Now R.L. Jones is back requesting a CID once again. This time the company has reportedly provided more details on how the money would be spent, and has changed the scope of improvements to be made if the tax is approved.

As part of the process, the city council has set a public hearing for Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Long Memorial Hall.

A CID involves forming a “district” with specific boundaries taking in a commercial development. The person or group requesting and receiving a CID can then collect an additional sales tax above and beyond the taxes collected by all other retail entities in the immediate area. That additional tax revenue must then be used for improvements within the CID boundaries, or footprint.

While CIDs generate additional tax revenue, it could seemingly also be a bit of a deterrent for shoppers who are faced with paying an extra tax while shopping in the affected stores and shops. However, many shopping centers have CIDs in place and the fact that an additional tax is being collected is not readily advertised. Unless a shopper notices the higher tax amount on a sales receipt the fact they are shopping in a CID can go unnoticed.  

The Sept. 9 public hearing is simply a step in the CID request process.

Also during last week’s city council meeting, Public Works Director Alan Welshon gave an update on a recent visit to the Chicago, area where he looked at water filtration systems produced by WRT, a Chicago-based manufacturer.

Welshon was on a fact-finding mission to explore the possibility of the city purchasing WRT filtration systems to install at the city’s well locations. The units would rid the city’s water of radionuclide contamination.

Radionuclide contamination is a naturally occurring problem where miniscule radioactive particles in the Earth’s bedrock are flushed into ground water passing through fissures and drilled wells in the rock. The city has been mandated by the EPA to lower the radionuclide levels in the drinking water by late 2011.

The city recently tried another, less costly filtration system produced by Filter Tech, but that system was found to be ineffective with the city’s water due to low sulfur content. While low natural sulfur levels are a good thing, it rendered Filter Tech’s system useless in solving the radionuclide problem. 

Welshon said he found WRT was quiet capable of producing a system adequate to handle the city’s water flow. Farmington’s highest producing well flows only 325 gallons per minute … well within WRT’s capabilities.

A decision was made Thursday evening to purchase the first WRT filtration system at a cost of $153,400. The system will be installed at Well 19 off Route H. 

Also, a contract was awarded to J.M. Marschuetz Construction Company for work on Phase Two of the ongoing airport runway expansion project. The firm is the same one which is completing Phase One of the runway work. 

The bid was for $271,834, the bulk of which will be funded by state transportation dollars.

And some two months after several firemen were injured and a tanker truck was destroyed in an accident, the insurance company has settled with the city and it’s time to replace the truck. 

A check was received for $249,000 from the insurance company. The truck was apparently valued at $250,000 by the insurance carrier, and the city had a $1,000 deductible on the policy.

A bid had been received from Pearce Manufacturing to replace the truck. The bid was for $566,504. City Administrator Greg Beavers said the cost of new fire trucks has increased excessively in recent years due in part to federally mandated safety measures and pollution controls on the public vehicles.

The administrator told the council the city could easily apply the $249,000 insurance settlement to the purchase price and make up the difference out of the general fund, but he suggested an alternative plan. He said with the uncertainty of the economy, and subsequently the city’s sales tax revenue in coming months, he would suggest the council consider signing a three year lease-option plan for the truck. 

In reality, the city would be financing the truck at an interest rate of about 3.25 percent. Beavers suggested the truck be purchased through Pearce Manufacturing’s lease-option program, and then the council revisit purchasing the truck after the first 12 months.

The council will meet next on Aug. 23.

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