The Exeter Village Board met on Wednesday, September 6 for their regular meeting with board member Kathy Erdkamp absent. The meeting began with the approval of invoices and minutes but quickly moved on to the main topic of discussion, street and downtown project costs.
The board welcomed Nathan Boone with JEO Engineering and Brad Slaughter from Ameritas.
To begin, the board discussed the bids on the downtown improvement project and noted that the bid from Van Kirk was somewhat below the estimate. The board decided to accept the $673,382.62 bid.
In their last meeting the board accepted a bid for the street projects from Werner Construction. That bid was also lower than expected at $1,510,316.64 for construction fees. Including engineering fees, bonding fees and contingency fees the bond amount is at $1.87 million.
“Even with the bids coming in at less we don’t want to be overextended. If we accept both bids in their entirety we may be over a little,” explained Village chairman Alan Michl. “Sometimes improvement costs. You have to be realistic. No one wants taxes to go up but we’re going to get something for it (in assessment value increases).”
The board held a lengthy discussion on how to balance the projects on the table, taking into account the debt load and the additional property tax burden for the constituents.
Slaughter spoke up clarifying, “The issue is not with cash flow. When we go to market these bonds in order for them to be purchased at competitive rates buyers will be looking at the valuation to assets ratio versus the population. A higher debt number gets a higher interest rate.”
“What makes Exeter different from a lot of communities is that your pool is self-sustaining because of the sales tax (it makes the bond payment),” explained Slaughter.
The board looked at the current levy and gave an example of the levy on a $200,000 home. Slaughter noted that “There would be an increase of around $370 over the current levy for paving. This does not include water bonds or the pool, strictly paving bonds. That number is not completely accurate because some of the costs would be assessed to the landowners on the new paving.”
One option the board discussed was to do the downtown improvements and all the streets except Missouri which would put the cost at around $2.275 million. They estimated that a $100,000 home would cost an addition $20 per month in property tax.
Included in that lower total would be some of the costs of engineering fees that the village paid using some of their certificates of deposit. The village also used money out of the general fund which would have to be reimbursed.
Michl asked, “What number are you looking? What number should we be at?”
Slaughter stated that the cap should be between $2.0 to $2.1 million. “You don’t want to limit yourselves to bond on the open market.”
Michl clarified, “The figure you are talking about doesn’t include the current street bonds that will come off in two years.”
“This is a work in progress. If we find a situation where we can finance the $2.7 million then we can. We need to prioritize the project so we know which direction to head,” according to Slaughter.
One important point he brought to the board’s attention was that if the water projects are not included in the bond package then financing is only available for 15 years. In order to obtain the 20 year financing there must be a water infrastructure aspect to the bond.
Boone brought up some issues with the locations of power poles on East Boundary. “State statute requires that there are two feet from the curb to the back of the power poles.”
Several poles along East Boundary will have to be moved and he estimated the cost would be around $50,000 to move those poles and several others scattered throughout the paving project.
Board member Mitch Schlegelmilch asked about putting the power lines underground. Boone planned to check on that as well.
Schlegelmilch added, “All the comments I have heard (about that project) is that it is a little too much. I like to keep the water in there if we are having breaks or leaks.”
Board Member Justin Harre stated, “I was under the impression that we were going to spend the same amount (as the current street bonds).”
Michl responded, “We are paying $2.76 (levy) right now. For what it is, it’s not a lot right now. You had to know we were going to have more.”
Slaughter added, “The question is, what your comfort level is? The benefit is your valuation increases.”
Audience member John Graham asked when the paving would start. The board responded that it would be after harvest. After the board discussed not including Missouri Avenue in the paving project Graham wondered, “what Missouri will look like after taking truck traffic for three months.”
The board continued to discuss different options to bring the cost down to the $2 million mark.
Michl added, “Every time we have a paving project they ask why didn’t you do more. Every time we put it off we have to pay more. I’m just throwing it out there.”
“We talk about it and we are concerned about East Boundary and Missouri which needs to be done because of the truck traffic. The one section of Union needs done no question about that,” explained Harre, “to me we need to do something different and not do the whole thing.”
The board moved on to pass Ordinance 590 issuing the street improvement bonds after waiving three readings of the ordinance. The ordinance just gave the board the power to create the street improvement bonds in the future.
After a short discussion the board also passed Ordinance 591 which created the downtown improvement district.
Next on the agenda the board passed Resolution17-02. This set the date of the downtown improvement hearing on Wednesday, October 4 just prior to their next meeting.
Harre added, “We want to make sure people understand when the hearing is so they can come and give their opinion about these projects.”
Keno was the next topic of discussion. Todd Zeilinger of Zeilinger Keno was present to let the board know that he, “Made a deal with the state to voluntarily downsize some of my locations that are too far away.”
He introduced Craig Blake who, according to Zeilinger, has done Keno for 25 years and uses the same equipment. Blake would buy Zeilinger’s equipment and the community would see no change in service.
Board had received the new contract for Blake who also runs Keno in Waverly and Raymond. The board agreed to the new contract with Blake.
In the maintenance report, John Mueller reported that there was a water issue that had to be fixed on Friday night.
In the clerk’s report Becky Erdkamp noted that sales tax for June was $8143.85 and Keno for July was $1211.55. Erdkamp explained that sales tax to date is $84,799 well above the $77,000 payment.
Vice Chair Tim Wilbeck asked Erdkamp to put a notice on next month’s water bills that campers need to be removed off of the streets for snow removal.
The Board made a motion to go into executive session at 9:05 p.m. to discuss pay raises. The board returned at 9:10 p.m. and approved a three percent raise for Mueller, Erdkamp, Librarian Jessica Votipka and Cemetery Sexton Sharon Cudaback.
Meeting was adjourned with the next meeting planned for October 4.