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Council says no to 16k for courthouse

Hearing set to consider borrowing for $727,000 fire station addition

SOLON– The Solon City Council did not support language in a ballot initiative that would dedicate 10 percent of potential Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue toward payment of a bond for the county courthouse annex.
Council members did schedule a public hearing on securing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for an addition to the fire station.
The city has a number of major infrastructure projects still on its to-do list, including the North Trunk sewer line, a water tower, and other municipal projects, and is currently carrying substantial debt to retire.
City Administrator Cami Rasmussen asked council members for guidance in preparation of a July 28 countywide joint entities meeting, where the LOST referendum is expected to be on the agenda.
The City of Iowa City requested a 10-year LOST referendum on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, which if approved would add one percent to taxable purchases throughout Johnson County. In a July 10 email from Andy Johnson, executive assistant to the Board of Supervisors, Johnson requested feedback from county municipalities regarding three items related to Iowa City’s request: the sunset date for any LOST referendum approved by voters; ballot language; and dedication of 10 percent of any LOST revenues received by municipalities toward reducing the property tax burden by helping pay the courthouse annex bond.
Solon’s council focused on the 10 percent.
Mayor Steve Stange said he was surprised that the supervisors would ask the city to dedicate part of Solon’s LOST revenue to the courthouse annex bond.
Solon’s anticipated revenue from LOST would be $162,971, according to documents provided by the city, so the amount in question was roughly $16,000.
“Our answer is no,” said Stange.
While Council was unwilling to support $16,000 to help pay for the courthouse annex, consideration of a potential $727,000 expansion of the fire station is continuing.
At a July 17 meeting of the Tri-Township Fire Department Board of Trustees, Fire Chief Bob Siddell briefed trustees on the design process and costs of a potential fire station expansion. He indicated preliminary costs would be $727,000, although any expenditure would be contingent upon the city’s ability to secure financing.
Siddell indicated the city was interested in finding money for the project during the next couple of years, likely through TIF. Depending upon available financing, the project may be completed in multiple phases.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the council scheduled a public hearing on using TIF funds for the fire station project for Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m.
In other business, Big Grove Brewery proposed an event application for a one-year anniversary celebration on Aug 29 and 30.
“The football game is that Saturday, UNI at home,” said Matthew Swift, a brewery business partner. “We wanted to celebrate being in Solon and everything else. I had this idea to expand on the patio with the weather being great, and put a little something in the street, probably in the form of a little bit of live music, obviously we’d be serving food and beer, possibly put a tent out, on Iowa Avenue right in front of the building.”
After a discussion of council concerns, Swift took a blank event application to re-draft his request.
City Engineer Dave Schechinger reported he would meet with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on July 22 in Marshalltown to discuss flooding of Jordan Creek and other disaster preparedness issues.
There was no resolution to a payment sharing proposal between developers and the city for a temporary wastewater lift station at Windmill Estates Phase 6. The developer had been in contact with the city, and Rasmussen scheduled a meeting with the finance and utilities committees for further discussion. Stange said he would expect an update at the next meeting so the project could proceed during this year’s construction season.
Council approved an erosion plan review as part of the construction application process for all single and multi-family lots. Council also approved $4,500 for a related erosion study regarding municipal design standards. Funding for the study would come from developer impact fees.
Council also approved the final payment for the new city hall, and discussed an open house for the new building.
The council set a public hearing date of Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m. on designation of the expanded Solon Urban Renewal Area and amendment to the urban renewal plan. The city is expected to purchase the property at 120 W. Main St., and take “certain blight alleviation measures thereon, including the demolition of deteriorating and dangerous structures and the necessary cleanup and site preparation for future development,” according to the resolution. The public hearing will include a proposal to use TIF funds to pay the costs of an addition to the fire station.
The next meeting of the City Council is scheduled for Aug. 6 at 5:30 p.m.