Archive for Thursday, March 15, 2007

Council strikes fire department upgrades from CIP list

March 15, 2007

In a workshop on the city's five-year capital improvement plan last Thursday, the De Soto City Council agreed to strike any big-ticket items for the city's fire department until merger talks with a neighboring rural fire district are resolved.

The meeting was the first on the CIP limited to the council. Two workshops including the council, De Soto Planning Commission and De Soto Economic Development Council were conducted in February to find consensus on a list of potential projects developed by city staff.

De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle estimated the city could do $6 million in capital improvements the next five years without affecting the mill levy. That estimate excluded projects to the city sewer and water utilities, which have their own dedicated revenue streams for capital projects, which Guilfoyle estimated would make $1.5 million available in the next five years.

The council agreed to leave it to staff to decide and prioritize capital projects for the two utilities, but did have ideas about the general fund CIP.

In their meeting, council members agreed the four priority projects should be the highest-graded projects to come out of the consensus building meetings. Those were the repaving of 83rd Street from Kill Creek Road east to the city limits, development of Riverside Park in the West Bottoms, relocating the city shop and a $700,000 redesigned downtown streetscape on 83rd Street from Peoria to Shawnee streets. Added to that priority list was the park at Lexington Avenue and Commerce Park.

Two of those projects, the downtown streetscape improvements and the new city shop, align with the goals of last year's downtown revitalization effort. That plan envisioned the redevelopment of the city shop yard at 82nd and Shawnee streets after the city relocates the outgrown shop.

However, the council agreed to fund the new shop at $1 million, which was $500,000 less than the early estimate to build a replacement shop. Council members suggested a developer of the present yard be asked to contribute to the new shop. City engineer Mike Brungardt was also asked to see what $1 million could build.

The $500,000 trim from the shop would be applied to a long list of maintenance and upgrades at City Hall and the Community Center.

The council struck an estimated $350,000 new station and fire truck for the De Soto Fire Department because of unwillingness to apply citywide funds to a fire department that doesn't serve the entire city and because of talks with Johnson County Fire District No. 3 to merge the two departments. Council members agreed a merger could determine where a new station was located and what kind of fire equipment was necessary.

The council will consider the CIP again at its meeting Thursday.

Guilfoyle told council members last week that with the list of projects selected, city staff would have to fine tune cost estimates. He would also schedule meetings with the city's bond counsel and financial adviser to clarify what monies could be used on what projects.

With that, the council would have a better idea of how to schedule projects the next five years, he said.

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