The cost of potential capital improvement sales tax projects has finally been cut enough to meet the city’s revenue projections.
When the Washington capital improvement sales tax committee first met nearly three months ago, the list of potential projects was estimated at nearly $25 million — well above the estimates of what the tax could bring in.
On Wednesday afternoon, after several rounds of cuts and fine-tuning of numbers, the committee trimmed that number to $16.3 million.
The city’s half-cent capital improvement sales tax expires this year. Voters are being asked April 3 to approve an eight-year extension of the tax. City Administrator Darren Lamb said, if approved, the city would likely have between $16 million and $16.5 million to complete projects.
The list of projects approved by the committee will be presented to the city council at Monday’s administration/operations committee meeting. The committee’s next step is to create a marketing plan to sell the tax to voters. The list of projects will help the committee tell voters about what projects could be funded.
The council has the final say over exactly how the money is spent, so just because a project is on the list doesn’t mean it’s going to be done. Mayor Sandy Lucy provided several examples of how previous sales tax committee ideas were changed.
Lucy said the new Washington Public Library project completed during the current eight-year tax period was a holdover from a previous tax cycle. Other projects in the previous cycle cost more money and the library project was pushed to a new tax period.
While the library project was delayed, the city council also has opted to move forward with projects that weren’t ever on the committee’s radar. She said the most recent tax paid for the All-Abilities Park and Main Stage, and those projects were never discussed by the committee.
Committee chairman John Vietmeier was able to get the 30-plus projects under budget with some strategic cuts and folding two projects into one new project.
Vietmeier proposed trimming $1.9 million by lowering some estimated costs for certain projects. The idea would be to make up some of the money with other city funds, civic contributions or just have smaller scope projects.
Sewer slip lining, he proposed changing the earmarked amount from $750,000 to $650,000.
Money earmarked for the main stage roof was reduced from $400,000 to $375,000. The city auditorium rehabilitation project was lowered from $1 million to $900,000. A new water tower had its earmarked money lowered from $1 million to $800,000.
The biggest cost savings came from eliminating $1.6 million earmarked for a new multipurpose building for the fairgrounds. Vietmeier suggested saving $150,000 of that money and combining it with the tennis court improvement project at Hillermann Park.
Vietmeier said the extra $150,000 could be used for new restrooms at the site.
The committee supported the plan and agreed it was time to move the list forward to the city council.
With the strategic cuts, the committee found a way to potentially finance 32 projects.
The projects supported by the committee are a storm siren replacement, new fire station, new fire truck, new breathing equipment for firefighters, technology upgrades for firefighters, Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network project for public safety;
Infrastructure for a new industrial park, airport improvements, parks facility roofing upgrades, Lions Lake pavilion upgrades;
A new Phoenix Park playground, phase two of the skate park, a new Krog Park playground, a storage facility for public works and the parks department, sanitary sewer slip lining, a roof for the main stage, fencing for the fairgrounds;
Ronsick Field improvements, technology improvements for the city’s computer network, utility burial for Downtown Washington, paver replacement for downtown intersections, depot maintenance projects, a downtown Wi-Fi network, waterworks building maintenance;
New light standards downtown, a paving project for a new riverfront park, rehabilitation of the city auditorium, replacement of the city pool, repairing the Hillermann tennis courts and restrooms, a new water tower and energy-efficiency projects.