City reviews language for proposed public safety infrastructure bond ballot language

City Commissioners reviewed draft language for the public safety infrastructure bond during their June 6 meeting.

The current proposal is a $21,175,000 infrastructure bond, in addition to the mill levy that commissioners already voted to send to the November ballot.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the language and whether to send it to the ballot during their June 20 meeting. That process includes a public hearing during that meeting.

City discussing public safety infrastructure bond

Commissioners have been discussing the potential infrastructure bond ask for months, but staff said they wanted to nail down the details of the operational levy first.

Greg Doyon, city manager, said that staff was also waiting for legislative changes that adjusted the required ballot language.

He said that the law already required the city to show the impact on certain taxable values but a change during the last session added a requirement to show the impact on a $600,000 home. The proposed ballot language includes the tax impact on a $100,000 and $300,000 home.

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The Legislature also now requires that the ballot language state that an increase in taxes could lead to an increase in rental costs.

Commissioners will also review their ballot language for the approximate $10.7 million operational levy during a July meeting. Commissioners approved sending that language to the ballot in March but will update it to reflect the legislative changes, Doyon said.

Commissioner Joe McKenney said he was upset by the language about a levy possibly increasing rent.

“Since when is speculation part of a ballot,” he said.

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City staff said the legislative change required the city to include that language.

Mayor Bob Kelly said “we can object. I think it’s strange to have that language there. But that is mandated language from the state Legislature that we have to have.”

McKenney said, “I know that. My point is, where does it end?”

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He asked if it would be a laundry list of potential increased costs that might increase in the future.

Commissioner Rick Tryon said that renters should be informed that their rents might increase because of levies, “this kinda goes unnoticed. I don’t object to this language.”

The infrastructure bond, as proposed, includes:

public safety infrastructure bond ask 2023

The potential tax impact, based on taxable values for the current fiscal year, are estimated as follows, according to the city:

public safety infrastructure tax impact 2023

Doyon said over the last five to 10 years, when they’ve had additional funds or used the revolving load fund, they made purchases for public safety equipment or capital improvements, but that it’s not the best way to maintain infrastructure.

The city used federal COVID relief funds to refurbish three fire engines, rather than purchasing a new one, and the first one is on it’s way back, Doyon said.

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With the revolving schedule included in the proposed bond, Doyon said the fire department could get back on track with updating large equipment and vehicles.

The proposal initially included the Municipal Court remodel or move, but that is now being funded with ARPA dollars, Doyon said. The city is currently considering a proposal to remodel the Missouri Room for the court.

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Kelly asked if they were requesting a mail ballot, which staff said is specifically requested and detailed in the proposed ballot language and associated documents.

Tryon asked what happens if the operational levy passes and the infrastructure bond doesn’t, or vice versa.

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Doyon said, “my plan was we’ve had a lot of conversations about supporting public safety, I guess I would say we would press on in the event that one passed and the other one didn’t.”