City to look at repair fund for sidewalks program

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By Matt Kelton
Pioneer Sentinel

The Safe Routes to School sidewalk project stirred continued discussion during Monday’s city council meeting, in the public comments section and as an agenda item.

In attendance at Monday’s meeting, J.D. Evans of Henrietta asked the council if it had considered the affects the project might have on property taxes. Mayor Rob Robinson said that according to Gerald Holland, chief appraiser for the Clay County Appraisal District, the actual construction of the sidewalks would not increase taxable values because the sidewalks will be on city easements. Robinson said that taxable values would increase only if houses in areas along the route began to sale for higher prices due to the sidewalks, which would increase the overall average value of neighboring properties.

In an agenda item requiring no action, Alderman Mike Roberts asked if the cost of raising the level of water meter cans would fall upon the city. It was clarified that the cost is included in two grants in amounts of $488,000 and $490,000.

Roberts, who was unable to attend a Feb. 27 public forum, also asked if his fellow council had considered future repairs of the sidewalks, suggesting the city set aside money each year to build up a fund for fixes.

During the discussion, City Administrator Kelley Bloodworth said she had met with City Engineer Dean Hinton, Grant Works and TxDOT to discuss possible changes to the route. Bloodworth said she would like to see the route end before the Centennial housing addition, due to the number of water line breaks in the neighborhood, and see it rerouted to Western Estates. She also is pushing for the route to run on the side of streets opposite city water lines, though she realizes that will not always be possible.

During the meeting, Grant Works informed Bloodworth that the grants are reimbursement-based, meaning the city will have to pay contractors, and then seek repayment from the state. Bloodworth said the city would have to “lean” on the general fund to do so.

“Do I think we can do that? Yes,” said Bloodworth. “Do I think this will be an asset to our community? Yes.”

Bloodworth said that according to Grant Works, the city could expect quarterly reimbursements of $70,000-$80,000 once the project is underway.

The city has already signed a contract to receive the funds, and engineer and survey work has begun.

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