Town of St. Joseph looks at building improvementsFor the second month in a row, the town board of St. Joseph on Thursday, Nov. 5 held in-depth discussions on potential plans for public works and town hall improvements.
By: By Chris Hamble, Hudson Star-Observer
For the second month in a row, the town board of St. Joseph on Thursday, Nov. 5 held in-depth discussions on potential plans for public works and town hall improvements. The night started with a presentation from Ehlers Financial, discussing the town’s current outstanding debt, and loan options to pay for future projects.
The town currently has three debt services outstanding, resulting in a levy for debt service in 2010 of $449,000, with a tax (or mill rate) to residents of $.87 per $1,000 of equalized value (an increase from 2009 that Ehlers attributes to the decline of the town’s equalized value). This is projected to remain constant through 2012. In 2013, however, the levy and mill rate will drop dramatically as two of the three debts will be fully paid. The levy is projected to be reduced from approximately $450,000, to $21,000, and the mill rate will decrease from approximately $.87 to $.04 per $1,000 of equalized value, this is over a 90 percent decrease. This is assuming, however, that the town takes on no additional projects and debt service.
Ehlers provided the town with five distinct options Thursday as requested, in an effort to consider the options the town has for infrastructure maintenance and repair, and a possible expansion to the town hall. Payment for these options would not take effect until 2013, when the levy is expected to be greatly reduced.
The first option was for project costs of $2.35 million. This value was chosen because it would have no negative impact on the town or its residents. The mill rate in 2013 would not drop from $.87/$1000, but instead remain constant. While this option may not pay for all the projects the town wishes to complete, it is one option that is being considered.
The other plans were incremental increases from $3.1 million to $4 million. Under each of these other plans, the levy and mill rate would increase. With the $3.1 million plan, the mill rate would jump from $.87 to $1.06 per $1,000,(a $.19 jump,) and under the $4 million plan, mill rates would jump from $.87 to $1.27 per $1,000 (a $.40 jump.)
Ehlers also argued that now would be the time to borrow should the town choose. Interest rates are at lifetime lows, and construction costs are very competitive. A complete list of projected road projects and loan information can be found at the St. Joseph Town Hall. No final decisions have been made, and a vote by the electors at a special town board meeting was scheduled Thursday, Nov 12.
Town hall expansion
After being absent for several months, discussion of expanding the town hall continued Thursday night. Chairman Theresa Johnson presented a thorough powerpoint presentation outlining the current deficiencies of the current town and fire hall.
Current deficiencies in the town hall include, but are not limited to: no conference room, no air conditioning and no potable (drinkable) water, a violation of current standards.
Deficiencies were also listed for the fire hall: vehicles housed at other locations, lack of storage space, no room for future engines and no shower facilities as required by law.
To combat these problems, additions to both sides of the current building were proposed. On the west end, a proposed 24’x 42’ addition would be made to the town hall that would have extra workstations and storage space, with a service counter for public interaction. As well as the expansion, air conditioning would be added and a new septic tank would be installed. On the east side of the building the fire hall would see a 40’ x 80’ addition to include room for new vehicles and gear, a new well would be drilled, and a unisex bathroom with shower would be built.
The current cost of this plan is estimated at $586,000, and whether this would be included, or added on to one of the proposed new debt service plans by Ehlers has yet to be decided, but will be voted on by the electors. A full list of deficiencies and improvements to the town and fire hall can be found at the town hall.