Rhome’s tax rate holds steady

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, August 12, 2017
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Rhome City Council voted Thursday to propose a tax rate of 52.34 cents per $100 valuation for fiscal year 2017-2018.

The rate is the same as last year’s. The council can now lower the rate before voting to officially approve it, but they cannot raise it. They also approved Mayor Michelle Pittman di Credico’s proposed budget, which includes salaries for two new positions – full-time building official and part-time fire chief.

The council also discussed issuing a five-year bond package for capital improvement projects.

di Credico said the city recently paid off one bond, with one they’re making payments on through 2025.

“We have the opportunity to take a smaller bond and still have the same payment,” di Credico said. “We would not have to increase taxes, and we could do these capitol improvements. Some of these are very, very needed.”

At the top of the list is Rhome’s city hall. The city hall building has been closed since 2016 due to mold and asbestos remediation. That process is complete now, but the building is gutted. All of the city’s administration offices and the council chambers are temporarily located in the community center.

di Credico laid out options the city could proceed with should they choose to sell bonds. They could renovate the old city hall, buy an open building on Main Street for around $200,000 to relocate the administration offices only, or they could lease that same building. di Credico said she liked the idea of eventually demolishing the old school building located next to the community center and building a municipal complex on that lot, though that option would take more time and money and have to be completed in phases.

“I think we might as well look at the two buildings separately,” council member Sam Eason said. “We’ve got the old city hall, we’ve got to do something with that, because leasing that building on the other side, it’s not big enough. It’s not going to give us a place to hold court, it’s not going to give us a place to hold council meetings … We will still need to have a place. We really can’t stay here.”

di Credico said that leasing the Main Street building might be the best immediate option, though it would cost the city around $30,000 for a two-year lease.

“Thirty thousand just seems like a lot of money to buy us a little bit of time,” Eason said.

Eason wanted to renovate City Hall as quickly as possible. Other council members disagreed.

“I can’t see dumping anymore money into that building, I’m sorry,” Leeanne Mackowski said.

Mackowski suggested a bare-bones renovation of only the council chamber at City Hall and leasing the other building for the administration offices until the municipal complex could be built.

di Credico said the city would need to do something with the old city hall, not just let it sit there gutted.

“We’re telling everyone to clean up their places, and we’re not cleaning up our place,” she said.

Ultimately, the council approved a resolution to allow a financier to go out for bids on a $660,000 bond package (with fees, it will cost $700,000). They’ll take action on the bond at another meeting.

“What we’re trying to do is lay the groundwork for something bigger,” di Credico said.

The council also:

  • approved a zoning change for the Prairie Point development. See more on the public hearing concerning the development in a future edition of the Messenger.
  • heard an update on water quality issues. di Credico said Walnut Creek Utility District installed a chlorine dioxide generator at the beginning of the month, which should lead to improved water quality.
  • changed the city’s towing contract services to All American Towing and Recovery of Bridgeport.
  • approved an easement on Morris Street.
  • approved a final plat on Chisholm Court.
  • approved a five-year renewal agreement for a continuous air-monitoring site.

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