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City of Farmington makes plans for the future

The Farmington City Council is considering a $125,000 addition to the 2014 tax levy, which, under a new plan, could lead to the city's future financial stability.

The one-time new levy is being considered as a mechanism for long-term, capital improvement projects, including equipment and vehicle purchases, as well as street reconstruction and renovation projects as far out as 2047.

The projects identified in the plan are staggered over the next several decades. The goal, city engineer Kevin Schorzman said, is to set up a financial plan that will allow the city to pay for the projects without having to bond for them in the future.

In part, the proposed $125,000 in new levy money could help to accomplish that goal. Collecting the extra funding will allow the city of Farmington to allocate money for a new-roads CIP, and to collect funds for a new-equipment CIP. Over the next several years, funds set aside would be built up to cover CIP projects.

In subsequent years, through 2019, the city would set aside $118,000 of its levy for the CIP funds.

By 2021, the city is projected to have accumulated enough funding to not only pay for the CIP expenditures on its list, but to also have money to set aside for any other projects that come up.

At the same time, the city will use existing levy funds to pay down the debt from existing bond projects. The city will still have to bond for the upcoming $3.760 million Pilot Knob Road and 195th Street intersection project scheduled for 2015, but if all goes according to plan, that may be the last time the city of Farmington would have to bond for projects, Schorzman said.

As the years go by and the city pays down its debt, the amount of funds available for other projects increases. The ultimate goal, Schorzman said, is to eliminate the bond debt, and instead be able to cover project and equipment costs through the levy.

"This gives us an indication of when we will be able to tackle some other plans," Schorzman said. "If we do this, we can take care of our equipment and road needs well into the future."

Street improvements

Schorzman presented a similar plan in 2011, because Farmington had gone through a period where budget cuts put major capital improvement projects on hold. The problem with that, though, is that some of those projects were street reconstruction and renovations, and those same issues still need to be addressed.

The proposed capital improvement plan identifies some of those projects that will need to be funded in the next few years. The intersection reconstruction at Pilot Knob and 195th Street is the first of about 15 projects that are scheduled between now and 2029. Included on the list are a reconstruction at Akin Park Estates East in 2017, reconstruction of Akin Park Estates West in 2019 and a reconstruction of Honeysuckle Lane and Second Street, also in 2019.

Each of the Akin Park Estates projects tops $700,000 in projected costs. The Honeysuckle project is estimated around $3 million.

"By collecting ahead of time, we will be able to not have to bond for an entire project cost except for that first year," Schorzman said.

The road projects have to be addressed, he added.

"We have stretched these projects out to the limit of my comfortability," Schorzman said. "If we don't do something, sooner or later, the roads will fail. This puts us at a point of control."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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