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Not considering streetlight assessments

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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    Posted: Oct 24 2016 at 8:41pm

Middletown not considering streetlight assessments in 2017

Mike Rutledge  

Staff Writer

5:51 p.m Monday, Oct. 24, 2016

MIDDLETOWN

A plan to assess residents and businesses for streetlights — even those without such lights on their streets — has fizzled, at least for now.

During the Jan. 23 Middletown City Council retreat, City Manager Doug Adkins suggested that if elected officials implemented such assessments “ one of the things you could do is start using it for paving in ’17.”

And in Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr.’s State of the City speech in March, the mayor called streetlight assessments “a key element of the solution” for repairing the city’s streets.

“Council will be evaluating this in the coming months, and much needs to be considered for a fair and equitable assessment,” Mulligan added at the time.

Adkins did not place streetlight-assessments in his proposed 2017 budget and Mulligan said he has felt no push from his council colleagues on the streetlight issue.

Adkins in an email Monday to the Journal-News called the streetlight-assessment idea “something that was just a concept to be explored at some later date before 2020.”

The idea was to levy about a $3-per-month assessment on homes and businesses that would be used to pay the city’s street-lighting bills, which city government now pays to Duke Energy at a rate of about $750,000 per year. If residents and businesses were paying that amount, city government would be free to spend it on paving, Adkins explained.

By the year 2020, Adkins hopes city government will have enough extra revenue that it can pay for $3.59 million in paving. Adkins’ proposed 2017 budget includes $1.2 million for paving of local streets.

“I don’t know that we ever really had a plan to institute it,” Mulligan said. “We’ve talked about it off and on for years, as a way to offset that cost. But it’s just always been under consideration or evaluation. I don’t think anything’s a foregone conclusion, that we’re going to be doing it.”

Mulligan said when he mentioned in March that the council would be taking up the concept this year, “one of the reasons I put it in there was to get the dialogue going.”

“I think the response hasn’t been that strong, either, from Doug, that we need to do it, or from council, that we need to say, ‘Hey, let’s go forward.’ I just haven’t from anybody about it.”

Mulligan said some residents have pushed for the collections so paving could be done.

Adkins said via email one way the city is exploring cost-savings is to “convert our street lights to LED (light-emitting diodes),” the way Hamilton started doing over 10 years in 2015. “This has the potential to save several hundred thousand dollars a year in electric costs each year after we pay for the conversion,” he wrote.

“Saving money in street-light electric costs frees up the money currently being spent without having to charge our citizens,” Adkins added. “We will be exploring this (switch to LEDs) in 2017 and intend to move forward next year with this project.”

Council Member Talbott Moon said converting street lights to LED in the near future should lead to significant savings on electric costs.

“Those savings could be spent on other city priorities, with my preference being street paving,” he said, adding “I will need to see the financial implications of LED conversion before beginning any real discussion on an assessment.”

“I think it would be a good idea,” said resident Emma Ferrigan. “I think citizens definitely should be paying for street lights because how many wrecks have there been in Middletown? I would definitely do it next year.”

Debbie Egner, also a Middletown resident, also thought more spending on street repairs — even coming from her pocket — is a good idea: “They’re not real good at all,” she said of the roads. “There’s a whole lot to be done. Anything would help, I guess.”

Adkins said when he visited Kansas City for a national city manager conference, he learned that city is experimenting with motion sensors on street lights in quieter neighborhoods, which cut the lights to 50-percent power when there is no motion for 30 minutes.

Most communities charge for streetlight costs, Adkins wrote. But: “If economic development is going gangbusters, there may not be any need. If we are still looking for paving funds, some future council may want to consider the topic further. We have a lot of homework and projects to complete before this would even be considered a possibility.”

 

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What A City View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote What A City Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 25 2016 at 6:21am
Again, for the umpteenth time, where is the money to replace the raid on the street repair fund during the mid-80's? Why wasn't the money replaced? Where is the gas tax money going? Why hasn't a street fund been re-established?....or has it? Isn't that tax designed to support the street repairs? If as much focus had been on street repair all these years as it has been on the downtown dream, perhaps we would have been "further up the road" on seeing improvement on our streets.

Now, it appears the city leaders are searching for revenue......any revenue they can find (including ideas based on more taxes such as the street light suggestion or raising the water and sewer rates) Taxing people is all they know. Much easier than to work on getting corporate and payroll taxes in town for revenue. That would actually take some effort.

In the past, money was allocated for a purpose, then quickly disappeared to be mixed and lost, unaccounted for, in that great abyss known as the General Fund, a favorite watering hole for all the "special projects" including the downtown pet project. How's that downtown project and all the millions spent on it looking now as to an investment when the streets are crumbling all around the city? Wrong focus.....again.

And yes, Mr. Adkins, I know all of this was before your time. Just speaking in retrospect. How could past city leaders have been so short-sighted in the street repair area knowing the deterioration factor would eventually have to be dealt with? Same goes for the sewers and water system. Basic provisions for the people. No common sense.

Basics first, Mr. Adkins. Then, you can work on your downtown. Think sewers, water, fire, police, safety, roads, infrastructure first. The rest to follow down the road after the city foundation is taken care of.
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spiderjohn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 25 2016 at 8:31am
non-mandated taxes(fee increases) coupled with continued selective(former downtown area) tax abatements is hardly a solution that will win over citizens(taxpayers).

Who makes up the tax loss to schools?

How many tax abatements are going on in the former downtown area compared to similar businesses throughout the city?

Who has them and for how long?
How many jobs and payroll tax $$ have they created?
Are any abatements due to expire?

Once we had these buildings filled with white collar jobs and property/payroll/business tax-paying entities.
Now almost everything is abated and/or non-profit.
How will this pay off long term?
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Douglas Adkins View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 25 2016 at 11:13am
Spider -

Keep in mind that the tax abatements are only on the improvements to the downtown buildings. The owners continue to pay on the existing value of the building before investment and renovation. We lose nothing but future money that we wouldn't have if the buildings are not renovated and the property values increased.

Second, the school district loses nothing except increased property taxes abated through renovations for whatever period was negotiated. The school district is completely on board with this process and has executed an agreement with the city to support our efforts.

We have property and income tax abatements all over the city for improvements and expansion of local business. We have a tax incentive review committee that meets each year, reviews the promises made against the results and recommends continuing or cancelling the abatements made. If you'd like, I'd be happy to see if I have a way to post that here, or if not, on the city web page for review. As you know, I don't hide the ball.   That report has the company, the abatement offered, the promises made and the results of each deal to date. The dates of the deal are also on the report.   We're not nearly as downtown focused as you think and maybe this would help in explaining that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 25 2016 at 11:30am
Thanx for the timely explanation.
Maybe you could post a link to the docs that you mention?
Fair enough on the improvement abatement, though bars/restaurants a/b/c/d paying taxes on their improvements while competing against similar type x/y/z abated businesses(+ properties given and/or subsidized somewhat makes for a slanted playing field.

We all want every area and business owner to succeed--we all win when they do.

Maybe the Journal could print something on these patterns and abatements with results?

Who is on the committee that reviews these situations?
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Douglas Adkins View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 25 2016 at 11:55am
Give me a couple days and I'll try to gather up the Tax Incentive Review Committee Members and figure out how to make the report easy to find online. I'll let you know when I have it available.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 27 2016 at 10:08am
Spider,

I've got the 2016 TIRC presentation and the minutes of the annual meeting on the city web page now. My skill in inserting the hyperlink here is not up to par, but the web page below takes you to the right place.

Once you are there, you are looking at the left side of the page for the two reports titled "2016 TIRC Presentation" and "2016 TIRC Minutes."

If you review the files, you'll see that every Enterprise Zone, TIF, and CRA agreement is reviewed annually with a recommendation to continue or discontinue. You'll also see that most of the incentives are not downtown.

I hope this helps explain the process.

http://www.cityofmiddletown.org/finance
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spiderjohn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 27 2016 at 11:29am
Will work through it
A sincere thank you for the discourse and appreciation for your efforts.
We are all united in hoping for success

Why hasn't communication always been this two-sided?
actually council should answer that ?
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Mike_Presta View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mike_Presta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 28 2016 at 3:12pm
Originally posted by Vivian Moon Vivian Moon wrote:

Middletown not considering streetlight assessments in 2017...

nts

The idea was to levy about a $3-per-month assessment on homes and businesses that would be used to pay the city’s street-lighting bills, which city government now pays to Duke Energy at a rate of about $750,000 per year. If residents and businesses were paying that amount, city government would be free to spend it on paving, Adkins explained.


Mr. Adkins:
This sounds like the administration doesn't think that residents now pay for street lights, but we DO!!  We, the people, pay for EVERYTHING that the city, state, or federal government spends money on.  Government has NO money unless they first confiscate it from we, the people!

You simply have not taxed us as a separate line item for street lights as yet.  But we, the people, are most certainly paying for them now, just as we have been paying for them from the first day they were installed.
“Mulligan said he ... doesn’t believe they necessarily make the return on investment necessary to keep funding them.” …The Middletown Journal, January 30, 2012
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Douglas Adkins View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 29 2016 at 2:08pm
Mike -   I agree with your post completely.
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