The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 3, 2013

Clinton pushes to prioritize projects

By Katie Dahlstrom
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — Mike Ray walked into the Ericksen Community Center on Monday expecting to learn about the $87 million in projects spread throughout the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.

He left with at least half a smile.

“I asked that man over there about my street and he said it’s going to be done in 2016,” the 25th Avenue North resident said, gesturing to City Engineer Jason Craft. “I’ve lived on that street since 1976 and nothing’s ever been done to it.”  

Ray wasn’t the only one who had more information when they left than when they came.  

A few dozen Clinton residents ventured to the Ericksen Center on Monday night to talk with city staff about the projects in the city’s sights for the coming years.  

The Capital Improvement Plan spans from fiscal year 2015 to 2020 and is designed for the city to plan what major projects to complete that span all city departments. It also allows the city to plan financially. The sixth year, 2020, is referred to as the unprogrammed year, meaning those projects are on the radar, but are not a big enough priority to make it into the five-year plan. The bulk of the capital projects, $57 million, are slotted in the unprogrammed year.  

The plan is updated annually and used as part of the budget process, which is slated to take place for fiscal year 2015 early next year.  

Projects in fiscal year 2015 total a little more than $10.3 million, with $3.78 million coming from a general obligation bond that would increase the city’s debt service tax levy. The remainder would come from various sources such as grants, the local option sales tax and tax increment financing.  

Before the city embarks on the projects, the City Council would have to approve each individually.

Clinton resident Jeff Hardy was among those who perused the various displays and talked to the city employees behind the proposed projects.

“I just wanted to see how the money was being spent for now and in the future,” Hardy said. “And it’s a chance to talk to the people you don’t usually get to talk to.”

Attendees also were invited fill out a survey with several questions regarding how they felt the projects were ordered, any projects the city has not, but should, consider and what five projects were the most important.  

The proposed $3 million laboratory for the city’s wastewater treatment plant made Hardy’s list of must-haves because of the consequences the city would face from the EPA if it could not sample the water. The potential capital projects in the Lincolnway Railport like land purchases, establishing a water supply and roads landed a spot on his concerning projects list.

“I just don’t know if it’s working out the way it was supposed to,” he said.

Fellow resident Lanie Lass, who used to work at the Clinton Public Library, was happy to see the proposed improvements to the library’s interior, not to mention expand her knowledge of the other areas the city wants to enhance.  

“I wanted to learn a little bit more about where they stand,” Lass said. “I think it’s an excellent idea to hold these community meetings.”  

The Capital Improvements Plan Committee first developed the plan that was on display Monday night, then sent it to the City Plan Commission, which forwarded it to the City Council.

A public hearing and formal adoption of the CIP is scheduled for the council meeting next Tuesday, but before they took those steps officials wanted to get community input.  

The turnout enthused City Administrator Jessica Kinser. She held a similar community input meeting in September regarding the city’s mission, vision and values that the council used the feedback from when it adopted the guiding principles.

“I’m pretty impressed by the turnout,” she said. “There appears to be a lot of conversations happening and people filling out surveys so we’ll see what those say.”