Time for new taxes?

Bond issue, sales tax hike in 2022 proposed to help Yukon's aging infrastructure, city staff says

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The diving board is missing and the water is full of algae at the empty Kimbell Bay Pool this summer that is closed for the season in Yukon due to repairs that are needed to the facility built in 1963. (Photo by Robert Medley)

The state of Yukon’s infrastructure, with growing needs for street improvements, repairs to aging water lines, a swimming pool, and other buildings, and just how to fund such work was highlighted for Yukon City Council members in a study session Tuesday, June 15.

“We’ve been talking about all the projects that need to be done in the City of Yukon, about infrastructure,” City Manager Tammy Kretchmar told council members. “Buildings need to be remodeled, upgraded, new ones built and quite a few road projects need to be done also. We would like to go ahead and start with our campaign to do so.”

City leaders have marked June 28, 2022 as an election date for a general obligation bond issue or a sales tax hike. Both options are being studied.

Kretchmar highlighted several areas where work needs to be done.

She said a survey has been prepared to send to residents, and public meetings will help identify needs.

“We want a lot of citizen and community input on this. It is not about what we want but what our residents want and need.”

She then went over projects that the city staff members have worked on.

Kretchmar also talked about funding options, such as raising sales tax revenue and calling for a general bond issue election in November, but Yukon Public Schools are planning a general obligation bond issue election for November.

“With the history of how the G.O. bonds have gone with the schools they have always passed with high numbers so we thought it would be better to wait until next year.”

She said June 28, 2022 would be the best time for a Yukon general obligation bond issue.

“We need citizens input to go forward,” Kretchmar said.

There will be two to three town hall public meetings planned.

“The goal of the survey is to have as many options and reach as many people as possible. We will have it in-person, online and it will go out in the utility bills,” said Jason Beal, Yukon’s assistant to the city manager.

Questions will be asked about the service provided from the fire department and the police departments in Yukon. One section will focus on current and future needs.

“Does the community feel we need a new community center, a fire station?” Beal said.

The third section will focus on land use of 195 acres owned by the City of Yukon. A multi-use sports complex has been discussed, he said. Outdoor entertainment venues or a fitness center are possible.

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Funding options are topics of questions on part four of the survey.

“We did ask the question,” Beal said.

“We don’t know what the citizens want yet,” Beal said. A penny sales tax increase may be proposed. A general obligation bond issue would be paid by mill levies on property tax.

Yukon sales tax is 8.85%, with 4% that goes to the City of Yukon. A one penny increase would bring in $27,886,510 over five years.

Mitchell Hort, assistant city manager, revealed a number of projects in the City of Yukon.

Major street improvements, a new community center, widening Garth Brooks Boulevard, a new fire station, public library and sports complex were discussed.

“Yukon Parkway is one that we hear a lot about. It is something we need to consider going forward,” Hort said.

Wilshire Road east of State Highway 4 is in disrepair. Wagner Road also needs resurfacing east to Sara Road, he said.

Water lines are needing to be replaced and repaired due to the aging infrastructure.

“We just want to bring to your attention all of the needs,” Hort said. “We have water leaks. A lot of our system is aging, and there are a lot of issues.”

A new City Hall complex is also being considered.

The Yukon Community Center was built in 1973 and needs refurbishing.

Jackie Cooper Gymnasium also has roof problems. Kimbell Bay Pool built in 1963 has been closed due to needs for repairs.

“They are old and passed their life expectancy,” Hort said.

The cost to fix the Jackie Cooper Gymnasium roof is about $500,000.

“We do have problems,” Hort said.

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