Posted 2/02/16 (Tue)
By Cecile Krimm
Progress on solving the issue of a poorly lit Main Street and concern over the way the council is operating the Spirit Fund brought out the most discussion at the council’s regular meeting Monday night.
With a vote on the city’s one percent tax looming, said Commissioner Troy Vassen, another problem is that no on seems to know how much money the fund contains.
Vassen, who sits on the Spirit Fund board, said other members are growing frustrated with being passed over when projects come directly to the city in seek of funds. An award of $400,000 to a new daycare center is just the latest example. It’s not that the project is unworthy of the funding, he said, only that when projects bypass the normal process, the Spirit Fund board has no input.
Vassen said it also makes it difficult for the community developer to track just how much of the money is spoken for. That, in turn, makes it difficult to know how much money may be available for future projects.
Mayor Bert Anderson said the state of the city’s finances -- and the fact auditors are only this month completing a review of the city’s bookkeeping over the past two years -- has been confusing in many ways. However, he said he is confident sufficient funds will be available for the $200,000 a year promised to the daycare for the next two years.
“The Spirit Fund board doesn’t appreciate how things are done,” said Vassen, and with a citywide vote coming up, “I hate to not have the answer to ‘What do we have?’”
“I think all of this will be taken care of with our audit and everyone will know,” said Anderson. He expects the audit to be complete later this month.
Vassen worries the council made a mistake in not voting to extend the tax by resolution, as they are allowed by state law, instead of putting it on the city ballot. “If the sales tax does fail, everything’s got to stop for spending, because it’s already alotted to the daycare. I am really wishing we had just renewed it,” said Vassen.
City Engineer Bill Moonen presented options to the council for a better lit Main Street.
Anderson and Councilman Wayne Benter said they’d like feedback from merchants and residents on two different lights now installed on the main block.
One is located at the corner of Main and Central Avenue, south of The Homestead Saloon. The other is on the corner to the north, by J.D. Electric.
There is also the question of what style of lighting to be used. Council members have referred to a post with a decorative bulb as a “Tioga-style” since that town recently installed similar lights in Tioga’s downtown.
Moonen presented options ranging from only replacing the heads on the existing poles at a cost of $133,000 to completely starting over with new lights at a cost of $574,000. An in between step, using the existing lights, but installing additional poles was nearly as expensive as a fresh start, at $527,000.
“These numbers are probably on the conservative side,” said Moonen.