Dead End for City-County IGA

Despite on-going negotiations between the City of Lamar acting as the Lamar Redevelopment Authority Board and Prowers County Commissioners, a final resolution on an Intergovernmental Agreement between the two never materialized.  The IGA, if approved, would have spelled out the sharing of tax revenue funding from the Urban Renewal District.  The IGA was developed about two years ago, at the same time the Urban Redevelopment plan was organized at the recommendation of the former Lamar city administrator, Ron Stock.  The city, county, Re-2 school district and Prowers County Hospital District all had a vested monetary interest on how tax revenues, generated by the new Renewal District, would impact their annual incomes.   

TIF, or Tax Incremental Funding, would be generated by new construction or improvements to existing structures within the newly designated district, which encompassed most of the city of Lamar’s retail district along Main Streets and Olive Streets.  Those taxable revenues could be used to either help foster economic development within the district, or when they accumulated sufficiently, the revenues could be used to help secure future bonding, also to be used for economic development projects. 

The three entities had been at odds with a subordination clause in the original agreement which would delay or negate any tax payments to the three (hospital, school, county) should the Redevelopment Board default on making payments to a future bonding authority.   Two years of negotiations followed suit, making progress in some areas, but never finding mutual accord over the subordination clause.  Although the annual financial impact to the Hospital District was around $2,000, the board decided against signing the IGA because of the potential negative impact the clause could have on their own plans for bonding issues for hospital development.  The county commissioners were reluctant to sign the IGA for the same reasons, and hesitant to commit future commissioners to the same obligation during the life of the 25 year agreement. 

The September 12 deadline, offered by the Redevelopment Board three weeks ago, expired during the Monday night Lamar City Council meeting when the board, stating they had not received word from the county during the last negotiation extension, voted to simply let it lapse.  The city had been informed by the Hospital District, that their board declined to accept the IGA in its present form as well and the agreement died for lack of a motion from the Redevelopment Board.  The county will receive $10,337.66 for ten years as payment from the city for an economic incentive agreement, a portion of real property taxes assessed on the Holiday Inn Express in Lamar when it was initiated in 2008.  The Urban Redevelopment Authority will vote each year on a continuation of those payments.   

The city council briefly discussed a draft of the Five Year Capital Improvement Plan for the city during the Monday evening work session.  City Administrator Bill Pfeilsticker presented a list of some needed improvements and purchases in the neighborhood of $1,300,000.  One area that requires attention has not had a price tag attached at this point; improvements to the city’s levee system.  A map site study by FEMA representatives informed the city, the current levee system needs to be raised by four feet in order to be certified for national flood plain insurance coverage.  The levees are in the Willow Creek Park area, continuing east, to behind the WalMart store.  A similar study was conducted for Granada and Holly, with those towns needing only minor improvements to be in compliance.  Pfeilsticker said the city’s facing a January 1, 2012 deadline to submit improvement plans, and he needs to develop information sources on a project of this nature in order to start.  There’s the added problem, he said, that the base to the levees may not be sufficient to bear the weight of the addition four feet of material.  Until that time, there’s only guesswork on how much the project will cost.  Failure to achieve compliance will put the surrounding area at risk for flood insurance coverage or future business development.  The flood insurance premiums could be mandatory if the project is not completed. 

Other improvement topics included HVAC upgrades for several buildings in the city as well as replacement of some city vehicles.  The $200,000 irrigation project request from the Spreading Antlers was also discussed, with the city council deciding to look at the $15,000 per year assist they give to the course for equipment purchases.  These items will be discussed at a budget work session, Monday, September 15, at 6pm by the council.

By Russ Baldwin


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