Council OKs funds for more road-clearing supplies

Presentation made on Capital Mall TIF

The Jefferson City Council looked more closely at the Capital Mall proposal for tax increment financing (TIF) at its Monday night meeting.

The Jefferson City Council looked more closely at the Capital Mall proposal for tax increment financing (TIF) at its Monday night meeting.

Even though the city’s code allows Jefferson City’s Public Works department to buy only the amount of street chemicals approved in the budget, the City Council Monday night gave the department temporary authority to move money from other accounts so it can buy more supplies — if it needs to keep dealing with winter weather conditions.

New Public Works Director Matt Morasch told the council the request was “a precautionary measure” in case Mid-Missouri has even more winter storms than we already have experienced.

“We do have chemicals on hand, so the public should be assured that the streets will be taken care of,” he said. “So far this winter, we’ve had more than the average number of storms that we’ve treated for — and we have expended our budget.”

After the city’s new budget year began Nov. 1, the department bought enough supplies to begin the winter with a full stockpile of the various chemicals needed to deal with snowy or icy roads.

But they’ve already had to fight wintry conditions several times, “and it’s only January,” Morasch told the council members during their pre-meeting get-together shortly before the council meeting began at 6 p.m.

That’s when the council first heard about the proposed resolution it would vote on two hours later.

More supplies already have been ordered, Morasch said, and will bring the amount on-hand to about 75 percent of full once they’re received.

“If we’d had, maybe, a typical winter where we’d only had two or three events in December, this (request) might not be needed,” Morasch told the council during the formal council meeting. “But weather’s very unpredictable, obviously.

“And our long-term forecasters are saying — and, so far, they’ve been correct — that we’re going to have multiple small events this winter.”

He said a series of small events — such as rain that freezes on the pavement because temperatures dropped — will use more supplies than one or two major storms.

The resolution allows the city administrator to take money from other

Public Works department funds to buy extra chemical supplies.

And, Morasch said, he’ll come back to the council in a few weeks with a supplemental budget request — which could add up to as much as $150,000 or $175,000 — to cover any money needed to buy the extra supplies.

The council also voted 9-0 to approve a resolution authorizing this year’s spending from the voter-approved transportation sales tax F, and to adopt several ordinance changes in the way the city operates.

Those changes include new language defining a council member’s potential conflict of interest — when he or she should not vote on or discuss an issue — as a “substantial interest” in a proposed ordinance or city contract.

Most of Monday’s meeting involved a presentation on the Capital Mall’s request for tax increment financing (TIF), so it can make a number of improvements to the nearly 36 year-old shopping center.

The city’s 11-member TIF Commission voted 9-0 on Oct. 28 to support the mall’s request.

“The Capital Mall TIF essentially will fund improvements that we believe … will improve the mall to a substantial degree,” Interim City Administrator Drew Hilpert told the council.

Lee’s Summit lawyer Joe Lauber — hired by Hilpert to do an independent review of the mall proposal — told the council the total project will cost $35,883,950, with about 57.4 percent privately financed and the other 42.6 percent coming with the public’s help.

The Farmer Brothers’ holding company bought the mall just over a year ago, and asked the city in September for the TIF, and for a Community Improvement District (CID) that, under state law, could raise sales taxes by 1 percent, to pay off the debt.

Hilpert noted: “All of these things require success at the mall so, if the mall doesn’t grow, they won’t get any of their money back, and we’re not sacrificing any property tax or sales tax which we already get today.

“We’re only splitting that part of the growth caused by this (proposed) construction.”

No one spoke at the public hearing on the proposed improvement district that came at the end of the 75 minute discussion of the mall proposal.

Council members will be asked to vote on the TIF and CID requests at the Jan. 21 meeting.

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