By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE – Questions remain as Greenville City Council heads into its special meeting on Thursday to discuss the proposed sidewalk project with the public at the Anna Bier Civic Center, St. Clair Memorial Hall, 7 p.m. Safety Service Director Curt Garrison shared a list of unanswered questions that will need to be addressed before the city can move forward with a resolution of necessity.
Garrison asked council if it wanted to move forward with the current scope of the first phase of the project, which includes the area inside Walnut on the west, Tecumseh on the east, East Water Street on the north to Fifth Street on the south. There will be 10 phases that will encompass the entire city. The scope could change if council isn’t willing to appropriate approximately $670,000 of city funds in 2020 to complete the project. However, Garrison pointed out if phase one is changed the scope for the remaining phases would need to be adjusted.
Councilman Leon Rogers said, “This sidewalk program was passed some years ago and nothing was ever enforced. If we start downsizing at this point and start shoving the ball down the field and don’t get it done, where is this going to put us in the future?”
Rogers also asked if other city projects would need to be eliminated or downsized in order to complete this project. Garrison noted there were many variables to take into consideration before that question could be answered. The city will need to look at how much revenue is taken in throughout the year and then determine how many property owners will complete the work on their own. Garrison said, “If the city has to spend $600,000 on the project next year – the short answer to your question is yes, there would be other projects that would have to be sacrificed to move that forward at that amount.”
In discussing the issue with Choice One Engineering, Garrison learned other communities with similar projects have averaged 40-50 percent participation.
Council will also need to determine the length of the assessment and whether or not a service fee/interest would be charged to the property owner. Current legislation allows the city to assess the property taxes for up to 10 years. Council would need to affix an actual number of years to its resolution of necessity. Current legislation also allows for the city to charge interest at the current rate.
Garrison said the biggest concern for the city will be the elderly who are barely making it now on a fixed income. “That is a huge concern that is out there. Greenville has a significant elderly population. I believe that is the type of issue we will hear on Thursday night and will need to address (the concern).”
In other business, council approved two resolutions that will put tax levies on the ballot in November. Both are renewal levies for current operating expenses and are for 1.2 and 3.8 mills.