On Monday, the King City Council considered setting up special capital reserve funds to start saving money for future projects including creating their own sewer treatment plant and building a new city hall which could incorporate space for a new police station.
While the council ultimately decided to table both issues, City Manager Homer Dearmin said the city would eventually have to consider funding mechanisms for the projects.
“The sewer treatment plant is something that has come up in our budget conversations,” he said, noting that in this year’s budget the city had funded a feasibility study for such a plant. Dearmin said the results of that study should be available within the next couple of months. “One of the things we will need to look at is how will we pay for it. We would like to have a vehicle for saving for a potential waste water plant.”
But Dearmin noted there were still many unknowns, the two main issues being what the feasibility study will reveal and whether the state would be willing to grant the city a permit for a waste water treatment plant.
He noted that the current requests before the council were to simply set up capital reserve funds that money could be funneled to in the future.
“We are not talking about appropriating any money tonight,” he said, noting that the city was still paying off its new water treatment plant with a debt payment of around $642,000 per year.
Council members were hesitant to act on the requests until they had seen the feasibility study.
“There is really no point in setting anything aside until we have something that says we can do it,” said Councilman Brian Carico. “But once that happens we need to start figuring out what, when and where that needs to go.”
Carico said that if the feasibility study showed the city should construct a waste water treatment plant then he hoped the city could start saving for it before budget time this year.
Dearmin said that if a capital reserve fund is set up and the city starts using it save for future projects, it could amend the ordinance at a later date if the projects fell through in order to recoup the money saved in those accounts.
Council members were less receptive to a request to set up a capital reserve fund for a future combined city hall and police station.
“This goes back to discussions I can remember that were going on when I was an intern for the city back in 2006,” said Dearmin, clarifying that there is currently no plan to construct such a facility. “You are going to have to look at the possibility down the road of looking at a new city hall. The police department is also outgrowing their building. In the next several years we are going to have to look at this more seriously and this would allow us to be able to start setting aside funds so that we have some money to offset that cost. You would be setting up a vehicle for saving toward a new city hall at the point Council determines it is appropriate.”
Several council members said they were worried that the city was taking too much on with the debt payments for the water treatment plant, hopes for a waste water treatment plant and then consideration of a new city hall.
“To meet the needs of the tax payers and the water customers we are kicking one off to the side and adding something that does the taxpayer no good,” said Councilman Charles Allen.
“If you ask tax payers, they would rather see the sewer treatment plant,” agreed Councilman Rick McCraw.
“I am all for thinking ahead and planning,” said Carico. “But at some point we have to stop and be realistic before we set up all of these funds and see if there is an allocation for it. We do not need to bite off too much at one time.”
Council agreed to table the city hall/police department fund until after they had had a chance to review the waste water treatment feasibility study to see if that was possible.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.