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City prepares to educate the public on $1.35 million city hall bond issue

By Doug Lindner
Solon Economist
SOLON– If you have questions about the city’s plan for a new city hall, you should have answers soon.
The Solon City Council met last week in a special session to discuss the promotion and potential repayment of a $1.35 million bond issue, which will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
Council members approved the language for the bond issue during the Sept. 14 meeting, and also decided on a 65/35 split for repaying the 12-year bond through Tax Increment Finance (TIF) money and the city’s debt service levy.
With those items out of the way, the city is expected to concentrate on educating the public on the proposal. That effort will likely culminate with one more public forum shortly before the election, but will also include an informational mailing to utility customers and as many public appearances as possible.
Maybe even some door-knocking.
During the meeting last week, council members, Mayor Rick Jedlicka and city staff discussed the contents of educational materials, as well as the perceived benefits of the site.
The city intends to purchase the Brosh Chapel and Community Center, located at 100 S. Cedar St., and convert it for use as city offices and council chambers. Also included in the purchase price is an adjacent parking lot.
Council members have been talking about a new city hall for about six months, and have also investigated the Solon Public Library and another Main Street property as possible locations.
The current city offices are housed at 223 S. Iowa St. and council meetings are held at the Solon Public Library.
“It was meant to be an office for two people,” council member Steve Stange said of the existing facility. “It really was never meant to be a city hall, because it’s not capable of holding a meeting.
“We’ve never really had a city hall,” he continued. “We’ve had an office with a large table.”
The Brosh site could provide offices for city staff, a council chambers which could serve as an additional meeting room for the community, and eventually a lower level community center.
Those amenities will be listed in a brochure to be published sometime in the coming weeks, as will as the impact of the bond issue on property owners.
According to City Administrator Cassandra Lippincott, the city will make an average annual payment of approximately $133,000 on the bonds. Thirty-five percent of each payment will be funded directly through property taxes with the debt service levy, with the remainder coming from TIF funds.
For a house with an assessed valuation of $100,000, the debt service levy would initially cost the property owner an additional $26.48 in taxes. Based on the city’s best estimates, the levy will decrease after the first year, 2012-13.
The 65/35 split was approved by the council on a 4-1 vote, with council member Sue Ballantyne in opposition.
Ballantyne, the longest-tenured council member, felt the 65/35 split took too much money away from the rest of the city budget.
“Not that I’m opposed to a lesser impact on residents, but philosophically, I would still prefer the 50/50,” Ballantyne said. “To me, (losing) $4-5,000 in the general fund– that could end up really hurting some place.”