In a special meeting on the evening of March 3, the Victor City Council further discussed the options to fund the construction of a new city hall and public works facilities.
The mayor and councilwomen have been exploring whether they believe a general obligation bond question on the May ballot would receive community support. The alternative is for the city to pursue an annual appropriations lease to fund the projects. GPC Architects has estimated that the cost to construct a new city hall on city-owned land will be approximately $2.5 million, and the improvements to public works to come in around $1.4 million; the estimated price tag for both projects is around $3.9 million.
If the council elects to place the question on the May ballot, the exact wording of the question must be finalized by March 29 — 50 days prior to the election. The precise amount and term of the bond has not yet been decided; the council additionally discussed options to split the projects apart and seek a bond for one and an appropriations lease for the other.
Should the bond question be added to the May ballot, it would include an overall amount, as well as the amount per $100,000 assessed property value that would be added to taxes for city residents.
Council members expressed some concern around asking the community to pay more in taxes, especially on the heels of the pandemic’s wide-reaching economic toll. “I wonder if it’s just too much to ask for people right now,” mused Councilwoman Stacy Hulsing. “How much is it going to boil down to someone’s personal bottom line?”
Additional concerns around the bond included next steps should voters reject the May ballot initiative. Councilwoman Molly Absolon observed that if a bond does not pass in May and that the council then moves ahead with an annual appropriations lease, voters may feel resentful that their opinion was disregarded.
The council reiterated that these projects — constructing a new city hall and revitalizing and expanding the existing public works facilities — are not optional undertakings, but important needs for the City of Victor at this point in time. They observed that construction costs are very likely to increase in the future, and that acting promptly to begin these projects is likely to save the city money in the long run. The question for voters, they observed, is not whether these projects need to happen, but rather how the community would prefer to fund them.
While an annual appropriations lease would likely come with a higher interest rate for the term of the loan (as compared to a bond), it would not require any additional taxes on city residents. The bond, alternatively, would ultimately cost less in interest over its term, but would require the new revenue stream from a tax increase.
After thorough deliberation, the council decided to continue the matter to its March 10 meeting to give the council members time to further reflect on the variety of options available to fund these projects. The council did approve engagement letters with the firm of Hawley Troxell as bond council and Zions Bank in a municipal advisory agreement.
City staff will move ahead with developing bond language for council to review and continue to discuss on March 10, leaving sufficient time to add a question to the ballot in May to fund one or both of these projects should they elect to do so.