Streets, ARPA, Pets Ordinance, Façade Program Highlight Busy Commission Meeting

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City Commissioners authorized part of a streets package, heard the final ARPA Committee recommendations, passed an ordinance restricting the keeping of pets on vacant lots, created a new façade grant program and approved a pair of development agreements during Monday’s regular meeting.

Two streets projects were presented Monday, with one being approved and the second tabled for the next commission meeting. The approved project is part of the state’s connecting links program and includes mill and overlay of K-7 from the intersection of 10th and Main streets to the intersection of 17th Street and Country Club Road. The work follows a similar project that was done on K-7 from the northern city limits to the 17th-Country Club intersection in 2020.

The second project is the city’s special 2022 mill and overlay that was made possible due to excess general fund money from the 2020-2021 budgets through scaled back spending and increased sales tax revenues as a result of COVID. That project was tabled until the April 18 meeting after discussion about awarding the contract and the possible addition of Grandeur Road to the scope. The two street projects combined are expected to cost the city about $1.9 million, with $600,000 of that coming from state grant money for the connecting link portion.

The Protect Our Pets Ordinance requires that habitable structures with active utility service be present on a lot for pets to be kept on the property. If property owners had multiple lots and wanted to keep pets on a lot separate from the residence, they would have to have the lots legally combined first. The ordinance was presented as a first reading on March 21 to allow time for public feedback.

Assistant City Manager Joe Warren presented the ARPA Funds Committee recommendations, which include allocation of $1.1 million for external grants and $500,000 to be used internally for services and possible grant match money. The external grant programs have not been designed yet, but one recommendation is to create a program for business creation and retention, with some of that money set aside for special consideration of tourism-related businesses with negative COVID impact. That grant program will likely take about $700,000 of the funds.

Another grant program is likely to focus on housing improvements for residential owners with financial need, with about $200,000 available for this purpose. An additional $150,000 is likely to be dedicated to a non-profit grant program to focus on capital needs/capacity expansion. It is possible another smaller grant program of about $50,000 would be made available for downtown façade grants, as commissioners also approved the creation of such a program on Monday, even though funding amounts and sources have not been finalized for that purpose yet.

All grant programs made possible by ARPA funds will be brought to the commission for approval before implementation.

Commissioners also approved development agreements for a potential new brewery on the corner of Main and Second streets, and a new multi-family residential development on the corner of Second and Commercial streets. Those agreements allow for city utility investments in water and wastewater connections to help those projects get off the ground. Neither of those projects is guaranteed to happen yet, but Interim City Manager Justin Pregont said the development agreements open the door for both, bringing them one important step closer to realization.

“We hope these development agreements push these two projects forward,” Pregont said. “But they still have some hurdles to cross before you can consider them a done deal.”

In other business Monday, commissioners authorized drainage improvements on Holiday Drive and passed a resolution authorizing designated signees for the city’s financial accounts. The resolution names new City Manager Amy Finch, who started work Monday, as one signee, removing Interim City Manager Justin Pregont from those duties. Assistant City Manager Joe Warren, who leads the finance department as one of his duties, is the other designated signee on city accounts.

Monday was the last meeting for Pregont as acting City Manager under the interim title. His last official day as a city employee is May 4 – although there is a possibility of the city working out a contract with Pregont to continue doing economic development and capital project development for the city moving forward.

The next regular city commission meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 18, in the commission room. The first budget workshop as part of the 2023 budget process will follow that meeting.