Draft residential paving plan shared

Leslie Silverman
A Hill City Residential Street Paving Plan Proposal Draft was shared at the Sept. 13 Hill City Common Council meeting. The draft was neither a discussion nor action item on the agenda and was shared as a report from Mayor Kathy Skorzewski.
Skorzewski  said she had missed the deadline to have it on the agenda as a discussion or action item.
“During the week we typically take agenda items for discussion and action items and they need to be in by Wednesday. I wasn’t finished with this until about 3 o’clock this afternoon so I was not able to get this in as a discussion item,” she said. “What I was hoping to do tonight is give it to council as a kind of a preview.” 
The draft outlines the road paving history in Hill City, beginning with a government bond for $3 million secured in 2006.
“The intent” of the bond “was to pave all city owned streets in Hill City,” according to the draft. “Unexpected conditions” resulted in only a portion of city streets getting paved.
The Go Bond, as it is referred to, is paid back via 50 percent of real estate taxes at an amount of $200,000 per year. The bond will be paid off in 2026.
The draft estimates a $3.1 million to properly engineer and pave the “six groupings” of streets that are currently gravel.
The draft addresses five  possible funding options. The Street Improvement Fund has about $300,000. Using the entire balance would allow for the paving of only one street.
Refinancing the current Go Bond would offer “minimal savings and no allowance for new paving,” since the remainder of the bond is primarily principal.
The Go Fund cannot be refinanced with additional funds, as “projects must be separate.”
A sales tax bond is a possible option which “requires commitment of future sales tax revenue over the next 15 to 20 years.” About 25 percent of the city’s future sales tax would be needed if the city decided to use this funding mechanism. 
Skorzewski  offered her opinion that “sales tax is a little more volatile and we don’t know what it’s going to be like from year to year.”
Securing a new Go Bond once the current one is paid off was the last funding option presented in the draft. This option would again rely on real estate taxes and be paid off over a 20 year time frame.
The draft proposed a five-year plan to get the ball rolling. Required engineering studies would be done prior to 2026 and once the current Go Bond is paid off the city would “immediately begin efforts to confirm amounts needed for paving remaining streets and securing another bond to address all remaining streets.” According to Skorzewski,  engineering studies have an approximate shelf life of five years. 
The mayor did allow public comment on the draft by the public in attendance. One question raised is would the Go Bond be subject to a vote by city residents or would the town be able to enter into the bond without a public vote. The mayor was not certain of the answer to that question. 
Connie Sundby of Deegan Drive, one of the gravel streets in  Hill City, voiced her objection to the time and money involved in the process.
“For instance on our street, on Deegan, in 20 years consider the amount of money that’s been collected on real estate taxes on that street alone and we have not had one thing done,” she said. “That’s ridiculous. And to wait this much longer. Things are only gonna get more expensive in five years. What do you think the cost of paving will be?”
Skorzewski  asked the council to consider Sundby’s comments as they think about the draft. Skorzewski  wants to “get things moving” to be “able to get done what we need to.”
Skorzewski will place the draft onto the next meeting’s agenda as a discussion item, saying  “if anybody is interested they can  actually come in and  discuss it.”
Skorzewski again reiterated a need for an additional member of the Planning and Zoning board. Interested parties can contact the mayor directly. 
The council approved a request to purchase a snowblower attachment. The $5924.04 attachment was not budgeted for but will also not take the city over budget. The attachment will allow public works employees to remove snow directly from the street into a dump truck, without creating piles to be removed later. 
According to a report by  Travis Kettner of public works department, “It is a constant battle between the city and business owners pushing snow off the sidewalk into the streets and then the city pushing it back on the sidewalk. This snow blower would eliminate this battle.”
The city did not bid out the attachment, which will likely have to be ordered due to supply shortages. 
Special event licenses were waived for the Hill City Rangers homecoming parade, the Children’s Boo Bash/Pumpkin Festival and the Olde Tyme Christmas Parade. Alderman Carl Doaty suggested a plan to limit parking to allow for the safety of children in attendance. The town will look into what can be done to satisfy the needs of attendees and businesses. 
The board approved the  combined 2022 primary election agreement with Pennington County. The election date is June 7 and two positions  on the common council are open, in addition to that of Mayor.
Sgt. Randy Harkins introduced Hill City’s newest deputy, Kaitie Leising. He also noted one drug arrest this last month.
The Hill City Chamber of Commerce received $2,250, the full amount requested, as a marketing grant from Black Hills Badlands. Chamber executive director Janet  Wetovick-Bily said busses are back in town. The chamber has created a  motorcoach presentation to play on busses.
The bridge project is coming to an end, according to city administrator Brett McMacken. McMacken also reported that  footings have been poured at the new Hill City Community Center. 
The next Hill City Common Council meeting is Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

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