We are closing in on a year since a proposal was presented to the Gothenburg City Council outlining a plan for addressing the city’s street and water/sewer issues. At the July 21 council meeting, a bid for the estimated nearly $3 million project was accepted, and by this time next year residents should be seeing a significant change in the city’s infrastructure.
When it comes to any kind of project of this magnitude and expense most citizens want to know, where is the money coming from to pay for it? And most importantly, are my taxes going to go up for this? The answer to the second question is - no. While the council had at one time considered proposing a 1/2% city sales tax for funding the projects, they decided not to pursue that avenue and were able to secure other resources instead.
One of those revenue sources will come from Highway Allocation Fund pledge bonds to the city, in an amount not to exceed $1.3 million. These funds will be used toward the cost of street improvements on Avenue I between 16th and 20th Streets. The 10-year bond would incur an approximate annual payment of $143,000.
City Services Director Shane Gruber explained that the repair costs the city incurs each year for the streets and water mains varies, but there are currently areas of town where the water lines have more clamps than pipe, which is not good.
At the Feb. 4 City Council meeting, Gary Steele of Miller & Associates Consulting Engineers, P.C. of Kearney presented the design and construction engineering plans for the project. The Highway Allocation bond funds will be used for the street repair project on Avenue I. Meanwhile, funding for improvements of the city’s water supply system will come from General Obligation Water bonds to the city which were approved by the council in February, not to exceed the amount of $1.8 million. This bond is also based on a 10-year issuance, with an annual payment from the city of about $197,000.
While most - if not all - of the city’s water lines are in need of replacing in the near future, the project was divided into smaller sections based on priority. The first section to go to bid was the Avenue I area between 16th and 20th Streets. Those bids were presented to the council at the July 21 meeting with the engineer recommending the bid from Blessing, LLC of Kearney in the amount of $906,507.26.
“There is a slight chance that the project will happen this fall but more than likely in the spring being that it is late in the construction season to be starting on a project like this. Again the project consists of replacing the pavement between curb to curb with water mains being improved at each intersection from 16th Street to 20th Street on Avenue I,” said Gruber.
Another grant will be used to replace more than 60 wheelchair ramps in the city to help meet the ADA requirements for the sidewalks around town. That will be done as a separate project from the street and water project next year. None of these projects will affect taxes for city residents.