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Funding woes stall 1 percent tax work

Aug 15, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

City has yet to receive revenue from the levy

New recommendations from the Fix Our Roads Citizen Committee didn't go far after Riverton City Council members expressed concerns about funding during a meeting Aug. 6.

The committee's most recent suggestions include two overlay projects: one on Watt Court near Central Wyoming College and another in the Woodridge Estates subdivision.

Watt Court

The Watt Court project would connect a new street to the CWC campus for access to the Health/Science Center.

71 Construction is completing work on campus and has offered cost estimates for two options. The first would cost roughly $27,000 to furnish and place a fiber-reinforced 1.5-inch overlay on Watt Court. The second would cost about $32,000 and would place a 2-inch overlay. 71 Construction proposed overlaying the street when they pave the new section.

The committee initially agreed to use optional 1 percent sales tax money on the first option but later modified its approval to see if the city could help fund the work.

City administrator Steven Weaver said the city had looked into the budget's road materials line item and after discussions with the acting lands division manager Gregg Schaub, they determined money from the road materials budget could be used to upgrade to 71 Construction's second option.

Officials expect the amount of traffic on Watt Court to increase with the addition of the Health/Science Center; Strathmore Minerals Corporation currently is the only company on the street.

Council member Eric Heiser asked city staff if the action of choosing an option would be legal because no other companies were given the opportunity to bid on the project.

Weaver said the city could accept three quotes from three companies.

"I would feel more comfortable with that," Heiser said. "We need to be as transparent as possible with this money so that next time around we hopefully don't have to make quite as hard of a push for it."

Council member Richard Gard said that although 71 Construction could participate in the quotes, they were at a disadvantage because they already had released their estimates.

The council rejected the recommendation to go ahead with the quotes.

"Let's get together and get it done, and that's another one that you, or us, are not going to have to deal with in the future," FORCC chairman Wendell Manka told the council. "It's going to be a busy street."

Concrete repair first

The second recommendation from the FORCC was for an overlay project in the Woodridge Estates subdivision. Council member Jonathan Faubion asked the city if the money from the 1 percent sales tax was already available to fund these projects.

Director of administrative services Courtney V. Bohlender told the council that the revenue from the tax had not yet come in, and it isn't certain when that will happen.

Bohlender also said that with the approval of all of the projects but no money in hand, the city would have to borrow from the general fund, and that, in her opinion, was not a good idea because the city might have to borrow from the reserves for the water fund.

"All these projects going out, I'm not sure we can keep up with the cash flow," Bohlender said. "I am suggesting we wait, because if we have these projects come in, and we have pay applications, we're going to have to get money to loan to (the) 1-cent fund, just like we did with the water fund."

The council and staff discussed holding these projects, waiting for the quotes and then preparing for actual work would be a lengthy process, and they might not be completed before the end of the construction season.

City utility division manager Dawn Willhelm confirmed that the bidding phase for the curb, gutter and valley pan work -- or the Miscellaneous Concrete Repair Project -- opened Friday after the council approved those projects during a recent meeting.

Faubion reiterated his concern of available funding with approval of more projects and asked for Manka's opinion on which one was a priority for the FORCC.

"If you don't do that concrete work, there's no use doing the rest of it," Manka said, adding that when they looked over the dilapidated curbs, gutters and valley pans, it "shocked" him.

"It's just amazing what you got," Manka said. "What is happening is that we have such bad curbs, gutters and valley pans, the water is going under, therefore your (street repairs are) not going to be any good. If it's good today, the next rain day it's not going to be. If we don't fix these things, there's no use doing the overlays."

Faubion suggested the council wait two weeks before it approves more projects. Willhelm said it typically takes at least two weeks for actual work to begin because insurance procedures and other items have to be confirmed before starting a project.

Heiser suggested making the motion that a bid be awarded as soon as the funding comes in.

"I understand wanting to wait, but if what we're waiting on is that check, then why do we need to wait two more weeks until the check comes?" Heiser asked.

The council voted to table the project until the next regular city council meeting and funding sources were confirmed.