City seeks to cut debt
Projects needed to increase property values
By Bert Lehman
Officials for the city of Clintonville have started discussions on how the city can reduce its debt.
In late 2016, when the 2017 city budget was being discussed by the city’s Finance Committee, committee members agreed that it shouldn’t wait until the 2018 budget process to discuss debt reduction. With that in mind, the Finance Committee initiated a debt reduction discussion at its Jan. 9 meeting.
“I think we need to start looking at the debt situation well before we get into September or October,” said Finance Committee member Jim Supanich. “This has to be a long-range solution. It’s not something that we’re going to be able to do in a year and a half or two [years].”
Clintonville City Council President Mike Hankins agreed, adding that the city needs to set a target or goal.
“It took a long time to get to where we are,” said Lance Bagstad, a member of the Finance Committee. “It will take a long time to get back to where we’d like to be. We have to be realistic.”
The city needs to develop a realistic five-year capital improvement plan, Supanich said.
“We need to impress on department heads that this has to be more realistic when they go into it, understanding that things change, emergencies come up,” Supanich added, “It’s not going to be chiseled in stone by any means, but it can’t be, ‘I asked for $200,000 last year, we’ll add 10 percent to that.’ It doesn’t work that way. They have to start evaluating equipment needs, the facilities and start putting together a plan for what they need and when they need it.”
In addition to a realistic capital improvement plan, Bagstad said the city is in need of a fleet plan for city vehicles.
Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell told the committee that any discussion about the city’s debt would need to include discussions about projects that will increase property values within the city.
“Otherwise you’re going to have a losing battle,” Kell said.
Alternative forms of revenue were also discussed, including a wheel tax. Also discussed was a transportation utility fee, which would include all vehicles, including heavy trucks.
“It (transportation utility fee) spreads it out a little more evenly with everyone who lives and works in the city,” said Finance Committee Chairman Mark Doornink.
Kell added, “And it has the potential to generate a lot more revenue than a wheel tax.”
Later in the meeting the committee also discussed the northern section of the city’s industrial park.
Supanich asked what the city needs to do to that portion of the industrial park to make it “shovel-ready.”
The committee was informed that the street is there, as well as sewer and water. It needs electrical service and natural gas added. Some zoning changes also need to be made.
Making that area of the industrial park shovel-ready would help increase the chances of attracting a new business to the area, which in turn would help increase the value of the city.
The committee will continue to discuss debt reduction, new revenue sources and the industrial park at future committee meetings.