The city of DeWitt secured progress on its projected five-year capital improvements list at its city council meeting Monday.

The council approved a loan agreement not to exceed $13.5 million, which combined $8.5 million for essential corporate purposes and $5 million for general corporate purposes into general obligation corporate purpose bonds. The $8.5 million is for the purpose of paying costs of improvements to city parks, streets, water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer. The $5 million is for recreation trail improvements and construction of public works and police department facilities.

Public hearings preceding the action resulted in no public input. The action comes after previous discussion and prior council decisions.

Also after a public hearing, the council took action to pass a resolution pledging the use of Tax Increment Financing monies to fund the $13.5 million in bonds. This action was necessary before the state changes its laws regarding TIF funding.

The council also approved Piper Jaffray of Des Moines as its underwriter for the $13.5 million bond sale. Piper Jaffray has served as underwriter and financial advisor to the city for a number of years with good success, according to City Administrator Steve Lindner.

The council approved required annual resolutions to conduct business with First Central State Bank of DeWitt and DeWitt Bank and Trust, the DeWitt Downtown Improvement District plant maintenance job description, the second reading of an amendment to the city’s code pertaining to special water service connection fees, and technical services for the home rehabilitation grant. The city received two proposals for these services and chose East Central Intergovernmental Association of Dubuque because of its long and successful relationship with the city. The contract cost is $27,000.

A number of discussion items were brought to the council’s attention. The city’s public safety volunteer recognition program was considered for change from purchase of savings bonds to a cash payment. It rewards volunteer fire fighters and volunteer police reserve officers for a certain number of years of service. Lindner was directed to formulate the easiest process to continue the program.

In preparing invoices for the cost of sidewalk installation connected to the East 11th Street project, the council agreed to assess the property owner half the cost to be paid in up to five years. Because the sidewalks were put in at the convenience of the city, which prevents property owners from planning for the expenditure, the city assumes some of the cost. Some individual properties have mitigated  invoices due to special use of their properties during construction.

Changes to the residential TIF policy were considered so that more homes below the $200,000 purchase price can be constructed. The average price for any home sold by developers since 2005 is $255,000, Lindner said, with 15 percent of the developers’ costs for land and infrastructure paid by TIF. The city’s housing task force recommends 100 percent of those costs paid (minus 39 percent required low and moderate payment to the city). This would promote construction of homes in the $180,000 to $210,000 price range.

Also discussed was the downtown sidewalk policy. Lindner suggested that business owners pay regular cost for standard gray sidewalk and the city assume any costs above that for the stamped, colored concrete and bump-outs.

Lindner also provided information on the Tractorcade, which begins in DeWitt on June 10 through 13, and formation of a Facebook page for the city. Lindner is attending a workshop for creation of the page on March 21.

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