GRANTS PASS – At their workshop Monday, March 2, the Grants Pass City Council began deliberations on how to best use roughly $2.4 million remaining in discretionary funds resulting from the sale of surplus property on River Road. Approximately $1.1 million of the $3.5 million sale of the property must be used to pay off an inter-fund loan used to purchase Dollar Mountain according to council resolution.
Further discussion and deliberation on how the remaining $2.4 million will be used will be conducted at a subsequent workshop, Monday, March 9.
Councilors heard a presentation from Finance Director Jay Meredith and City Manager Aaron Cubic about the status of discretionary funds in the city’s General Fund, priority items identified through the council’s recent strategic planning sessions, and ongoing projects.
Meredith explained the city’s limited sources of discretionary funds in the amount of approximately $5.6 million generated through franchise fees, state revenue sharing, and business taxes. He then explained how those funds are typically used to subsidize city departments, “with very little left over,” he said.
“Next fiscal year and future years will be similar, if not a small deficit, so general fund resources are not available for strategic plan capital projects without changes to tax/fee structures or reductions somewhere in the General Fund budget,” said Meredith.
Meredith also identified additional revenue sources which can be used for capital projects, such as Urban Renewal Agency (URA) dollars, lodging taxes, and certain system development charges.
He completed his portion of the report by cautioning the council that one-time revenues such as sales of surplus properties “should not be used for operational expenses.”
Cubic’s portion of the presentation outlined how the $2.4 million could be applied to those projects the council identified as top priorities for the coming year. He began with the council’s “three-star” priority items in chronological order of how long the items have been in the council’s strategic plan.
“This is staff’s proposal of how we could potentially allocate those resources with regard to your strategic plan,” Cubic said.
He also identified items on the list which qualify for URA funding.
“We’d rather use Urban Renewal dollars whenever possible,” said Cubic.
Examples of URA-qualifying projects on the council’s list included sewer development in Spalding Park, ornamental lights along “H” and Fifth streets, blighted building removal, and a feasibility study to explore developing a convention center.
Staff recommendations for River Road property proceeds allocation included $700,000 to accommodate deferred park infrastructure priorities.
“We would take care of all of our preventative park maintenance issues,” said Cubic.
“We have a 20, 30, 40-year-old park infrastructure that is coming to the end of its useful life,” added Meredith.
Additional recommendations for covering “three-star” items included $250,000 to complete Beacon Hill park; $485,000 to complete phase one trail development at Dollar Mountain; $450,000 to begin work at Caveman Pool; and $100,000 to install additional security cameras at existing parks.
“A number of your ‘three-star’ items would be complete,” Cubic said.
He then outlined “two-star” items identified in the council’s strategic plan which could be addressed with the remaining funds. Those items included $250,000 to refurbish the city’s aging Hillcrest Public Safety Station; $75,000 to upgrade and repurpose Westholm Park; $80,000 to install a bike pump track at Beacon Hill Park; and $10,000 to establish an art facilities program.
The city council agreed to revisit the proposed items at their next workshop, Monday, March 9.
“Luckily, we have already done the hard work through strategic planning, and we have a road map of where we’re going,” said Cubic.