- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By CHARLES RICHARDS
The Paris City Council tonight officially will lower the city tax rate by 1.72 percent tonight when it approves a tax rate of 51.107 cents per $100 assessed valuation, a reduction of almost nine-tenths of a cent from the present rate of 52 cents.
The council’s vote to do that will come immediately after adopting city manager John Godwin’s proposed $21.9 million budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year that begins one week from today (Oct. 1).
This council will make the first serious effort in years to begin replacing the city’s deteriorating water and sewer lines – a daunting task since it will cost an estimated $50 million to $75 million over the next 10 years.
About $2.2 million became available to the city this year due to retirement of significant utilities-related debt.
The city manager more than doubled the budget for new water lines, new sewer lines and streets – from $991,000 in 2011-2012 to $2,316,000 in 2012-2013.
“I have added $1.2 million for replacement of some of our worst water and wastewater lines in hopes of reducing outages, breaks, impacts on sewer plant volumes, and street damage and repair costs,” Godwin told the council.
The manager placed $55,800 in the budget to purchase equipment “to help us do some of the work in-house,” he said.
Godwin budgeted $880,000 (up from $280,000) for new water lines, $781,000 (up from $181,000) for new sewer lines, and $655,000 (up from $530,000) for streets.
The budget doesn’t reflect an additional $3 million or so more that Mayor AJ Hashmi wants to spend on the infrastructure over the next 12 months out of excess city reserves.
While approving what Godwin recommended for the infrastructure, the council has asked the manager to wait for council direction before starting any work. Hashmi would like to put the infrastructure planning and design in the hands of professionals.
City officials – and separately Godwin, Hashmi and Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Grossnickle — met last week with representatives of KSA Engineering, Inc., a company that specializes in infrastructure planning and design.
“The company has done multiple other cities – from cities that are completely new to cities that require replacement of their infrastructure,” the mayor said Sunday.
“Based on our city, they came to the meetings prepared with a plan from another city that they had done. It’s a beautifully done plan. It was impressive to see, how they planned and allocated funds. It was very nice. I enjoyed it,” Hashmi added.
“What they would do is devise a 10-year design and implementation plan. The first year would be based upon the recommendations of the Citizens Advisory Committee that we are going to create and upon the city’s most urgent needs,” the mayor said.
“Places where there has been a huge amount of expense because of water line breakages and repair work will obviously take precedence, and most of that happens to be in District 1 and District 2,” he said.
The mayor said he will put the matter on a fast track to do what needs to be done to bring KSA Engineering and any other companies interested in doing the city’s infrastructure plan and design before the council for a special presentation.
One or more special meetings would be necessary to advertise for bids and then to accept the winning bid and put the company to work, the mayor said. He would like for the council to award a contract in November.
Asked if the project can be bid out that quickly, the mayor said he told KSA Engineering, ”This is of urgent importance.”
“They have the rest of next year to keep planning for the rest of the 10 years, but I want the first-year plan completed by the 15th of December so we can actually start replacing the worst water and sewer lines early next year,” Hashmi said.
“I don’t want next year passing by without us allocating funds and doing something. I want to start work for the first-year plan in January. We already have money for that.”
Asked if he will ask the council to pull money out of the city’s excess reserves, the mayor said, “Absolutely.”
It is recommended that a city keep in reserve enough cash to operate for three to four months – based upon the city’s $21.9 budget, that would be about $6 to $7 million.
City finance director Gene Anderson has estimated the city has $13.2 million in reserves — $9.4 million in the General Fund and about $3.8 million in the Water and Sewer Fund.
“We could take about $2 million out of the Water and Sewer Fund, about $1 million out of the General Fund, plus the $2.2 million that we have because we paid off the bond issue,” Hashmi said.
“Not all of that $5 million will be spent on Day One, and so we wouldn’t pull it out until we need it. It will take almost a full year to spend that $5 million.”
The mayor said if the city is able to spend $5 million or more on the infrastructure every year for 10 years, “I think we would be in wonderful shape.”
During Monday night’s meeting, the council will be asked to approve a grant application for $195,000 to replace sidewalks on both sides of Bonham Street a block off the Plaza, from First Street NW to Second Street NW. The city’s match for the project is $45,000.
Hashmi said he’s OK with approving a grant application, but would want the work itself to be included in the city’s infrastructure plan.
“I think to use the grant money without a plan, you might do the sidewalk and then have to come by later and dig up the sidewalk to put in the infrastructure underneath,” the mayor said.
send comments about this article to