City Council Takes Another Look At Capital Improvements

Luke Phillips
City Manager Laura Fischer provided the Holtville City Council with a copy of the city’s Capital Improvement Budget at its  meeting Monday and told them that they may want to reconsider some expenditures.
“This is just an opportunity to discuss your budget, so you can see where the budget is right now,” Fischer said.
With the state’s decision to absolve RDA funds and the possibility of the city losing funds from it’s utility tax, several of the improvements on the budget may no longer be possible.
A petition has been filed that seeks to do away with the city’s five percent tax on utilities, a large portion of which goes toward paying for the city’s parks.
The first seven items on the Capital Improvement Budget are projects that have to do with improvements to parks and without the utility tax income, Fischer says the council may have to reconsider some of the improvements.
“Our parks are completely funded by RDA and utility tax funds,” Fischer told the council. “You may want to reconsider whether you want to spend your remaining RDA funds on parks that you won’t be able to maintain.”
Loss of the funds could have an impact on planned improvements for Mack Park and also plans to install grass for a public use area in the empty lot at 6th and Pine.
Council member Colleen Ludwig used the opportunity to bring up the topic of the city’s proposed Public Safety Building, a project that has fallen by the wayside in recent years. Ludwig says she requested the project be added to the council’s agenda, but has yet to see the topic up for discussion.
“It was voted on that we would have a public safety building and now we’re just excluding it,” Ludwig said. “We won’t always have this economy or this situation that we’re in now. There’s been a lot of time and money spent on this already and I would hate to see it wasted. I think it’s something that warrants a discussion.”
“It’s not a project that’s up for approval right now,” Fischer said, adding that the council needs to consider cutting projects from the budget instead of adding them.
“You need to think about which projects you could eliminate, what you could do without,” she said. Parks projects on the Capitol Improvement Budget, in order of priority are: New fields and a new playground for Mack Park, the first phase of the Alamo River Trail project, a soccer field at 6th and Pine, a skate park at the city’s old tennis court, a dog park at the city Public Works Yard, new restrooms for Holt Park and restoration projects for Doris Butler and Van Der Linden Parks.
Community Projects listed on the budget in order of priority include: A downtown revitalization project, new street signs, a new trailer for the fire department, a fence for the public works yard, and paving of a parking lot on Pine Ave.
The total RDA budget for all of the projects combined is $2,089,119