Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Former council member questions bond proposal, vote to happen Tuesday

Jul 20, 2018

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

 

A vote on the $1.8 million bond to fund the new Washington Fire Station is coming up next week and it has left at least one former Washington council member with questions.

During the regular Washington City Council meeting Tuesday, former member Mark Kendall spoke about the bond issuance, asking council members to think hard before the vote. During a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, the council will examine and vote on the sale of local option bonds to build a new fire station.

Meanwhile the landscaping for the project is already being done, bids have been let for the project and the funding is one of the last steps. Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said he did not believe the council would vote against approving the bond issuance.

“I don’t see that as a possibility,” Hinson said, of the council not moving ahead with the bond sale. “At the stage we are at, the council has already authorized the issuance of the debt. The council has already authorized us to go to the market for bids. The only step that is left is receiving the bids on the debt and directing the sale. We are at the very end of the process on the financing.

“You have decided to fund this project through bond revenues versus allowing the public, who will ultimately pay for this project, to vote,” he said. “You have followed the letter of the law in reaching this conclusion, but I would question if you have followed the intent of the law.”

The project, which was discussed when Kendall was on the council but rejected in favor of a different plan, costs $1.8 million to build a new fire station and $700,000 for renovations to the city hall and police station.

He said citizens are allowed to petition for a vote on such expenditures and that a petition for a bond referendum with 114 signatures had been submitted, but the council had not accepted the petition.

Hinson explained the petition was not delivered timely for a bond vote. He said the council had not initiated proceedings and the city’s bonding attorney advised the city to return the petition to Kendall. The council had been informed of the petition but had taken no action.

When Kendall was on the council, several alternatives had been discussed to address the spatial needs issue for both the fire station and city hall. The council was proceeding with a plan that would have used the former library building as a city hall while the police and fire stations would have remained in the existing city hall. In December 2015, a newly seated board voted to move away from the plan and proceed with a plan to build a new fire hall. According to a space needs study done in 2013, the city offices need about 25,000 square feet. The current municipal building has about 9,400 square feet.

Site work on the plan began earlier this year with a completion date of August 2019.

Mayor Jaron Rosein encouraged anyone with questions to contact Kendall, Hinson or city attorney Kevin Olson.

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