A number of residents approached the Corcoran City Council wanting more city money and fewer assessments in the dust control program.
The council also heard from councilor Rich Asleson regarding a report on what to do with expiring tax increment financing (TIF) funds.
Corcoran applies dust control to 23 miles of collector roads and 3.5 miles of neighborhood cul-de-sacs
Tom and Carolyn Holford of Foxline Drive addressed the council during the annual dust control public hearing. They suggested the city should totally fund the dust control application due to cost benefit to the city, that the dust control benefits the entire city, and that other road maintenance is funded by the city.
The Holfords also presented a neighborhood petition asking if the city should fund dust control with no assessments and asking that no dust control be applied to their streets.
Resident Joanne Faue of Horseshoe Trail also presented a similar petition.
Pat Hank of Trail Haven Road asked if roads targeted for pavement should be skipped for dust control, and city engineer Vince Vandertop said he would not recommend that.
Jim Dixon of Maple Lane said every other year dust control would be sufficient. Missy Braun of Kalk Road suggested the city entirely fund the program.
After closing the hearing, Mayor Ken Guenthner and councilors George Gmach, Roz Milbrandt, Tom Cossette and Rich Asleson responded to some of the points raised.
For example they noted the city increased its total dust control contribution from $20,000 last year to $35,000 this year. With a total $100,000 project cost, the council said it would be difficult for the city to bear another $65,000 expense.
One proposal mentioned was if the city paves Trail Haven Road between Foxline and Treeline roads, the city would save dust control expenses and pass on the savings. Also, a road improvement fund could be created to start paving more roads. Municipal Street Aid funds can also help with pavement costs, saving more money for dust control.
The council stressed it is listening to the residents and has increased the city’s share.
The council then unanimously approved the dust control assessment. It also approved an interest rate of 5.5%. If the assessment is not paid by Nov. 15, the amount owed will be certified to the county auditor, and the county would add additional interest (5.5%) and a surcharge.
In other news, councilor Asleson outlined his memo regarding the TIF fund and business district sewer.
Cities set aside tax increment for eligible expenses such as infrastructure and road improvements.
The city’s TIF fund expires next year and the city must decide to allocate the remaining funds or turn back the funds to the county. If the city turns back the fund, about half would be resubmitted back to the city’s general fund, and the other half would go to the county and school district taxing authorities.
But, Asleson noted, "if we turn back a large portion of that money now, we will be giving up on a large portion of this once in a lifetime opportunity."
He suggested using the funds to finance downtown sewer and water.
"Creating an environment which will attract business development is bound to be good for Corcoran as a whole," he said in his memo. "With water and sewer, we should be able to attract businesses."
He said recent auditor’s reports show that Corcoran’s debt and expenditures per capita are lower than other cities, while at the same time taxes per capita are higher.
"The explanation given is that Corcoran has a much smaller commercial presence than the others, so most of its taxes are from residential property," Asleson said. "Providing sewer and water to the Corcoran business district would provide the opportunity to attract new businesses which, because of greater water and sewer needs, could not exist there currently."
He also provided four suggestions for interim funding:
1. Use funds to help cash flow the city’s portion of $300,000 water cost that will be paid to Maple Grove.
2. Dedicate Trail Haven Road (proposed) pavement project funds to a street fund or future road improvement projects, "but in the interim it could also add to the cash buffer," Asleson said.
3. In return for downtown sewer, the businesses might lend the city some amount of money for up to five years or so.
4. Get a tax anticipation loan. Asleson said this is a last resort since it means having a lower bond rating and higher interest rate in the future.
"In my mind turning back the TIF money is such an undesirable alternative that I think we must find a way to avoid it, and I think the above provides a painless and risk free way to do it," Asleson said.
He concluded that if the city does not agree with the downtown sewer benefit, that the city should come up with some other TIF eligible project.
"We could do it today with TIF money or we could do it in the future with tax or assessed money. In my opinion, the only thing worse than turning the TIF money back would be to pick a useless project and waste it," he said.
The council discussed the matter and ended up taking no action. A decision would be forthcoming.
-Compiled by Aaron Brom