City to hire attorney to draft TUF ordinance
Clintonville schedules public information meetings on transportation utility fees
By Bert Lehman
Clintonville will hire an attorney to help City Administrator Sharon Eveland develop an ordinance for a potential transportation utility fee (TUF) the city is looking to create.
At its Dec. 8 meeting, the Clintonville City Council voted to authorize Eveland to engage the services of Lawrie Kobza from BoardmanClark, with the services not to exceed $10,000. Ald. Peggy Zaemisch voted no.
Eveland said Kobza is one of the most prominent utility attorneys in the state of Wisconsin.
“We want to make sure that we are creating an ordinance that would be as legally defensible as possible, so it does take the time and effort to put into it,” Eveland said.
Also, at the meeting, the council received an update on potential user rates if the city were to create and adopt a transportation utility.
A transportation utility would charge citizens for trips they make. The goal of a transportation utility would be to generate revenue to pay for road projects within the city.
Jon Cameron of Ehlers, the company conducting the transportation utility study for the city of Clintonville, said the study Ehlers conducted included two different budget scenarios. Cameron said these scenarios were updated since his presentation to the council at the September council meeting.
Under the first scenario, the annual fixed charge to a single-family home would be $62.95, with an annual trip rate of $8.63. Assuming 9.44 trips per day, the total annual transportation utility charge would be $144.42, or $12.03 month.
Under the second scenario, the annual fixed charge to a single-family home would be $37.56, with an annual trip rate of $7.70. Assuming 9.44 trips per day, the total annual transportation utility charge would be $110.28, or $9.19 per month.
Assuming the same annual fixed charge and annual trip rate as a single-family home, but 16.19 trips per day, a small commercial office building in the city would have an annual transportation utility charge $202.67, or $16.89 per month.
Under the second scenario, the total annual transportation utility charge would be $162.28, or $13.52 per month.
Assuming the same annual fixed charge and annual trip rate as a single-family home, but 191.64 trips per day, a manufacturing building in the city would have an annual transportation utility charge of $1,716.77, or $143.06 per month.
Under the second scenario, the total annual transportation utility charge would be $1,513.81, or $126.15 per month.
The study also explored different scenarios involving the impact a TUF would have on future borrowing by the city, the city’s debt tax rate for residents, and how many road projects could be completed.
Eveland said the TUF would be set at a high enough revenue-generation rate to be able to pay for capital projects if the city doesn’t continue to receive grant funds. This would ensure that the city would continue to be able to complete road projects even without grant funding.
TUF vs. city debt
At the end of the presentation, Eveland said, “The numbers that we are talking about on this, really does kind of show how the transportation utility fee, that the city is in the direction of bringing our tax rate, the debt portion of our tax rate down. It is something that the community has talked about for a long time.
“And the transportation utility is potentially projected to not only bring down our debt service tax rate, but also do about $3 million more in projects than we would if we did not have a transportation utility fee, but we got grants.”
She added that it is not financially realistic for the city to borrow funds to complete its needed road projects. Borrowing more will increase the city’s debt tax rate, and impact its debt utilization rate, which the city has been working to decrease.
The only other option would be special assessments, Eveland said.
“We’re trying to move away from special assessments because they have such a negative impact on individual property owners,” Eveland said.
She told the council that the city is continuing to do the required research about the viability of a TUF. This includes multiple different factors.
“Trying to make sure that the data we’re putting into this database for the fee is as accurate as humanly possible for when we get ready to take this to the council for consideration,” Eveland said.
The city of Clintonville has scheduled two information meetings to inform citizens about the possible creation of a transportation utility fee.
The city will hold two meetings to provide information and receive feedback. The first meeting is scheduled at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, at the Clintonville Community Center. The second meeting will be held virtually on the city’s Facebook page at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30.
At the meeting, City Administrator Sharon Eveland will give a brief update on the financial data and present the current information as it relates to the draft ordinance. The meeting will then be open for questions.
Anyone wanting to learn more about the potential transportation utility or to ask questions is encouraged to attend. Though two meetings will be held, each will be given the same presentation so the public is welcome to select whichever meeting works best.
As a reminder, masks are currently required for entry into public facilities.
The city has also established a page on the city’s website under the Public Works Department about the transportation utility.
The website also includes a presentation by Ehlers, the municipal financial advisor firm hired by the city to conduct the study and assist with developing the TUF.
Anyone with questions may email Eveland at [email protected]