WOODWARD - The city of Woodward moved one step closer to possibly the largest infrastructure improvement in the town’s history after the city council approved payment authorizing Veenstra & Kimm Inc. for professional services in regards to the potential HMA (hot mix asphalt) street improvement project.
The HMA street improvement project, if approved, would pave every non-paved street within the Woodward city limits. According to Woodward Mayor Brian Devick, the improvement project would save the city $35,000 in street repairs per year.
The engineering costs for the work was proposed at $124,000. On Monday night, the council agreed to pay that amount to Veenstra & Kimm Inc. to get the engineering work underway. In a coincidental turn of events, the city of Woodward was recently awarded $122,800 from the state for a road-use tax after annexing an area north of town in previous years. That left $1,200 to pay in order to get engineering work started.
Although the street improvement project is a hot topic in Woodward, the only item on the agenda Monday regarding that issue was whether or not to pay for the engineering with the funds the city currently has or to take out a bond to pay for the research work. The council unanimously voted to pay the money with current funds in order to avoid unnecessary interest rates associated with a bond.
“The city council has voted and decided to go ahead and hire engineering services so we can better define the scope of work; so we can know exactly how much side work, drainage work, prep work and other work needs to be done along with the streets so we can have a sharper number,” said Devick.
During the open forum portion of the council meeting several concerned citizens of Woodward questioned the financial information presented during previous meetings, including a public hearing and special session that was held on Feb. 5 to discuss the project. One citizen asked for “transparency” from the mayor and council regarding the amount taxes would be raised in order to pay for the large project. In a previous meeting, the mayor had used an estimate to give citizens a general idea of what the HMA street improvement project may cost in the future. However, the estimated start date for the project, if approved, wouldn’t begin until the summer of 2015. The mayor assured the public that before starting any project that involves a bond, there will be several public hearings.
In an uncommon action, Woodward Mayor Brian Devick asked the council for permission to speak to the attendees of the meeting, which was approved. Devick rose from his chair and used a whiteboard to help explain the details of the street project, including projected tax implications. He spent about 20 minutes fielding questions from the audience while attempting to answer all queries regarding the subject.
“I believe in being transparent in everything we do,” said Devick. “I will personally sit down with anyone and go through every page of the resolution.”
The city will receive an accurate representation of what the street project will entail when the work is completed by the engineering firm. That will take several months to complete.
In other business, a public hearing was held for the adoption of the Woodward city budget for the fiscal year 2015. The budget showed a decrease in taxes from $14.97 per $1,000 valuation in 2014 to $14.79 per $1,000 valuation in 2015. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the council approved adopting the 2015 city budget.
The pool located at Woodward Golf Club was also an important topic at previous meetings, as the members of the club had asked the city to donate $3,000 per year in order to help keep the pool open. The pool was built in 1969 and with declining memberships over the past 20 years, the club lost over $4,000 last year.
The council agreed unanimously that the pool is a benefit to the community and approved resolution 2014-04 to donate $3,000 per year to the Woodward Golf Club. According to minutes from previous meetings, the donation will be used to supplement family pool memberships by reducing the cost from $175 to $75 per year. The council also voted to refinance the city’s current storm sewer general obligation (GO) bond. With seven years remaining on the bond, refinancing with current interest rates could save the city of Woodward approximately $40,000 over those seven years.
The next scheduled Woodward City Council meeting is set for Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m.