Sunset Hills adopts capital-improvement plan; voters weigh Prop 1 Tuesday

Committee of city residents promotes passage of Prop 1

By Mike Anthony

A five-year, capital-improvement plan, the first in the city’s history, was unanimously approved last week by the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen.

The Capital Improvement Committee, chaired by Ward 3 Alderman Stephen Webb, identified nearly 100 potential projects and items totaling roughly $7.8 million in the five-year plan outlining the city’s capital-improvement needs.

The committee was established in May when the Board of Aldermen adopted an ordinance asking voters to consider a permanent extension of the city’s existing half-cent, capital-improvement sales tax in the Tuesday, Aug. 7, election.

The ballot language for Proposition 1 asks voters if the city should continue to impose the half-cent sales tax for the purpose of funding capital improvements and paying the costs of operation and maintenance of those capital improvements.

A simple majority is required for approval of Prop 1.

The half-cent, capital-improvement sales tax initially was approved by voters in 1994 to fund a more than $5.7 million bond issue for City Hall repairs, a new police station, a new public works building and street improvements, among other items.

Because the sales tax is tied to a bond issue, restrictions exist on how revenue from it can be used. For example, for every dollar the city wants to spend from the capital-improvement tax for street improvements, 57 cents must be appropriated from general revenue.

As a result of a decline in general fund revenues, a surplus has accumulated in the capital-improvement fund. A surplus of $103,000 is projected for this year.

At the end of April, the capital-improvement fund had a cash balance of $688,184.

The bonds were issued in 1996, refunded in 2004 and are set to be retired in 2016. If the bonds are retired, the tax would end in 2016 unless voters elect to extend it.

The capital-improvement sales tax currently represents roughly 12.5 percent of the city’s total gross revenue.

If the remaining bonds totaling $450,000 are redeemed after the August election, the city would save an estimated $41,000 in net interest expense, and have a cash surplus of more than $238,000 in the capital-improvement fund.

In addition, the tax will continue to generate $875,000 per year for capital improvements. Redeeming the bonds also will eliminate the requirement that capital-improvement funds be matched with general revenues.

The capital-improvement plan, which covers 2013 through 2017, identifies 24 potential projects totaling $1,028,735.06 for 2013.

A committee of Sunset Hills residents is promoting the passage of Prop 1.

The Say Yes Again Committee is chaired by Mike Hogan, who was appointed to the city’s Finance Committee in June by the Board of Aldermen.

In 1994, a committee of residents promoted passage of the capital-improvement sales tax and seven other tax-related measures with the slogan “Say Yes for Sunset Hills.” That is why the group of residents promoting Prop 1 is calling itself the Say Yes Again Committee.