Mayor answers questions

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Staff report

Mayor James Perkins Jr. passed out a sheet of questions and answers about the upcoming city bond issue Monday night at the Selma City Council meeting.

The questions were given to him by members of the city council.

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Voters will determine the success or failure of the $12.5 million bond issue on Feb. 26.

Here are the questions submitted by council members and the mayor’s answers:

Question: Will the city own the wired network (downtown)?

Answer: Yes, the city will own the wired network.

Question: Will citizens have to pay to be on the network?

Answer: The proposed broadband network is currently in design phase. Initial deployment of the network will be for City of Selma public safety and public finance. Shortly thereafter, the network can be made available to citizens of Selma. It is the responsibility of the city council to determine the cost to citizens, if any.

Question: Will network owners have access to everyone’s computer information?

Answer: The City of Selma will use IT industry standards to secure the network.

Question: What proposed streets have been identified for pavement, gutters and sidewalks curbing?

Answer: Street pavement is not included in the proposed gutter, curbing and sidewalk project. No streets have been identified for gutters, sidewalks and curbing. The Public Works Department will perform work based on known drainage challenges and priorities. The mayor will coordinate communications with city councilpersons to ensure their priorities are met.

Question: Will this be enough money to meet the needs of this project throughout the city? If not, how much more will be needed?

Answer: No. In order to complete all pavement, gutters, sidewalks and curbing requirements within the city, we would need over $100 million. this is a long-term project that must be started somewhere. We have determined by approaching this massive problem, it is better to install new curbs, gutters and sidewalks versus attempting to mill and resurface all the streets. The $250,000 is only for the purchase of the equipment needed to form and lay concrete for curbs, gutters and sidewalks. Material costs are proposed to come from the Municipal Aid Fund that presently has a balance of $1,358, 415 and grows at an approximate rate of $20,000 per month.

Question: What plan will be put in place to maintain the extension of the library?

Answer: That is the responsibility of the library. The board and library director have not said they do not want the extension. In fact, the director provided the plans for the proposed extension over three [word missing] ago.

Question: What plan will be put in place to pay utilities for the library, currently, and for future extensions?

Answer: There has never been a problem with having the ability to pay the utility bill(s) at the library. The question has always been who should pay, what amounts between the city and county. when the debate started, the city was paying 75 percent of the public funding for the library, and the county was paying 25 percent. The mayor proposed that the percentages be changed to the city paying 55 percent and the county paying 45 percent. Because the amount in question was close to the cost of utilities, it was simple to shape the discussion using utility bills as a focus. The notion that the city and county cannot pay the utility bills for the library is more spin than fact.

Question: How much money will it take to purchase, or lease, the Trolley Transportation System, and how many will be needed?

Answer: The City of Selma is proposing to purchase either one new trolley unit or two trolley refurbished trolley units. Our research shows that the average cost of the proposed vehicles is as follows:

The projected cost of a refurbished trolley vehicle is $53,000.

The projected cost of a new trolley vehicle is $147,000.

Question: How many people will be hired to manage this system, and how will they be paid?

Answer: the trolley is the beginning of a community transportation system. It is anticipated that a fee structure will be established to provide resources needed to support the system. It will be the responsibility of the city council to approve or reject a proposed fee. However, administratively, it is anticipated that a minimum fee structure beginning at 50 cents should be considered.

The City of Selma does not anticipate hiring additional workers for this project. the Public Works Department of the City of Selma will be responsible for the maintenance of the trolley vehicle(s). the design of the trolley system will promote economic growth and sustainability.

Question: How will the city recover its $2 million investment in the movie theater?

Answer: Public/private partnerships of this nature are designed to lower the upfront cost to the investor and provide a needed service for the citizens. Cost recovery will come in the form of a number of ways. The city will gain additional sales tax. The city can apply, the traditional theater ticket tax. the city can structure a lease-back agreement. All of these methods can be used to recover costs.

Question: What type of safeguards, or options, will be in place to ensure the investment is protected?

Answer: the City of Selma will use all available tools to conduct due diligence and to maximize the safeguard of its investment. This safeguard shall include, but not be limited to, contracts, short-term lease agreements and purchase options. Further, be mindful, the city council must approve all contracts, leases and risk management instruments/agreements. The traditional check-and-balance will remain in place.

Question: Will there be a lease agreement? If so, please explain the terms of the lease payments.

Answer: All options that are available for the build and use of this property that are available under the laws which govern the use of the bond funds will be explored. If the build/lease option is used, then there will be a lease agreement. The terms of the lease agreement will comply with the laws of the state of Alabama. Best practices will be borrowed from other communities. And, again, the city council will make the final decisions as to this matter.

Question: How will the amphitheater and river walk be managed, and by whom?

Answer: The amphitheater and river walk will be managed by the City of Selma with the delegation of responsibilities as follows:

Maintenance of structure &8212; Public Buildings

Beautification and upkeep of grounds &8212; Public Works

Maintenance of river walk and trail &8212; Recreation Department

Question: What is the estimated amount of money it will take to manage and maintain these facilities?

Answer: The City of Selma will utilize the recommendation published by the Department of Transportation in trail design to ensure the design allows for low-cost maintenance and increased sustainability. The city will also implement a monitoring system that will allow for the annual assessment and quality improvement strategies.