Corcoran looks to establish utility policy ahead of development

Continues street project discussion

The Corcoran City Council directed staff to obtain more information about a proposed downtown utility project and overall city utility policy.

This is related to using the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) before the funds are decertified at the end of the year.

The council also directed staff to further study a “Trail Haven Road, reduced assessment” option for paving Trail Haven Road.

 

TIF MEETING

Prior to the regular city council meeting, the council conducted a TIF projects meeting with consultants Tammy Omdahl and Kirstin Barsness.

“While there is a potential for a lot of work and projects, staff wants to assure the council that what has been discussed to date is all doable during 2013,” city administrator Dan Donahue said in a memo to the council. “By doable, we mean that we can meet all requirements to set up the projects, do the necessary groundwork such a establishing policies and processes, create budgets, protect the TIF funds, and create the timelines for getting all accomplished.”

Donahue said one last caveat is that decisions need to be made on which projects will go ahead and to what extent (in the case of the downtown sewer/water/street) will the city participate in financing the project with TIF.

Consultant Omdahl presented the following tasks and preliminary dates for completion:

• By May 31 — Present information at a city council workshop on the financial planning work that will be completed and key decision points for the city council.

• By June 28 — Complete a utility study (update to the preliminary financial plan previously prepared by Northland Securities in year 2012.) Work will incorporate Wenck Associates’ Regional Development Study, which will provide trunk costs for infrastructure.

• By June 28 — Prepare draft policy for utility fees and charges for consideration and adoption by the city council (a preliminary draft of a policy was prepared by Northland Securities and Wenck in year 2012, but has not been finalized and adopted by the city council).

• By July 31 — Complete an update to the Multi-Year Financial Management Plan (inclusive of all city funds).

• By July 31 — Work with the city attorney to create a draft of a water and sanitary sewer ordinance and assist the new city administrator on implementation.

• By July 31 — Provide advice to the city on possible modifications to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District No. 1 that may be necessary as a result of the update to the city’s financial plans. It is recommended that any final modification to the TIF plan for the district should be completed no later than November 2013. Work shall include coordination with other city consultants.

Rather than assess downtown property owners for utility-related expenses, the council is considering an area charge related to a utility policy. Corcoran also wants to establish a utility policy ahead of the city’s first ever municipal residential project, the Lennar Development site in the city’s southeast corner.

In her memo to the council, Omdahl said the purpose of the policy “is to provide direction and guidance for the administrative implementation of the ordinance that will be adopted to establish the water and sewer utility services.” She continued, “The policy will address such items as whether the city will require property owners to connect to municipal water and sanitary sewer when available to a property, types of fees and charges for usage of the utility systems, trunk line availability charges and connection charges, frequency of billing, etc.”

Omdahl also said the city will need to establish a water and sanitary sewer ordinance that will address regulatory items such as meter installation, billing regulations, water connection requirements and establishment and payment of charges.

Reached after the meeting, Mayor Ken Guenthner said the consultants “have given us a very good, doable timeline for evaluating project costs and relative charges. I get the impression that the process they’ve outlined for us will really enable us to maximize the overall benefit of the available TIF funds and maximize the return on our investments of those funds.”

 

TRAIL HAVEN

At the regular portion of the city council meeting, the council also continued discussion about a Trail Haven, Foxline and Treeline street project.

City engineer Vince VanderTop referenced “Trail Haven Road Improvement Survey Results” from a survey that was sent to Trail Haven area residents May 9.

He said of the findings:

• 70% (37 of 53) surveys were returned.

• 46% (17 of 37) respondents favored improvement of Trail Haven and/or Foxline/Treeline. Of those in favor, eight would proceed at the previously proposed

assessment rates. The other nine proposed maximum assessments generally ranging from $10,000 to $12,000.

• 46% (17 of 37) respondents did not want to see an improvement.

•  8% (3 of 37) responded as “other.” VanderTop said one of the “other” responses was to improve Trail Haven only using Municipal State Aid funds with no assessments. Another suggested completing the improvements and using the surplus of MSA funds to lower the assessment amounts. The final “other” comment stated an assessment would be a huge financial burden.

VanderTop said, “In summary, the overall response rate was 70%. Of those responding, approximately half would like to see an improvement. The opinion on maximum assessment value ranges from $10,000 to $15,000. The other half of respondents did not want a pavement improvement or the associated assessment.”

VanderTop then presented five options: 1. Full project, no assessment; 2. Full project, reduced assessment; 3. Just Trail Haven, full assessment; 4. Just Trail Haven, reduced assessment; and 5. Go elsewhere, council can direct staff to analyze other street segments for improvement.

The council directed staff to obtain more information related to option four, including implications to the city, and cost to property owners on the side streets.

No further action was taken on this issue.

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