By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon voters will pour their hearts out on Valentine’s Day next Tuesday as they decide the fate of a $37.5 million street bond proposition.
Polling places across the City of Yukon will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 14 for the election. Early voting was 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Canadian County Election Board.
“I hope everyone will make an informed decision,” Yukon City Manager Tammy Kretchmar said, speaking at Thursday’s Yukon Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon.
“The City of Yukon would ‘love’ for you to go out and vote.”
The purpose of this bond election is for voters to decide whether to accept an annual property tax (millage levy) to fund street and sidewalk improvements that are outside the City of Yukon’s normal operating budget.
“The proposition passes with a simple majority,” Assistant to the City Manager Jason Beal said. “There’s 17 projects and it’s one proposition. They all pass, or they all fail.”
The City of Yukon would collect no more than $37.5 million over an estimated 10 years, Beal added.
“There is the chance that, with continued growth, we reach $37.5 million in year nine or 10,” he said. “If we reach $37.5 million quicker, then the mill ends early.”
Among the proposed improvements are upgraded intersections on N.W. 10th Street at both Cornwell Drive and Garth Brooks Boulevard and adding a fifth lane on Garth Brooks Boulevard from N.W. 10th to Vandament.
“A vote ‘yes’ means we get our roads fixed,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said at the Feb. 7th city council meeting. “A vote ‘no’ means you keep driving on the ‘same ole same ole’.
“Don’t just listen to hearsay. Research that; look on that list. Every single road project that we’re doing is something I’ve heard a complaint about. Most important, get out and exercise your right to vote.”
The Yukon City Council in fall 2022 selected the 17 roadway projects after getting feedback from Yukon city staff and residents.
Input was received in a community survey and town hall meetings in fall 2021, along with Capital Projects Advisory Board discussions last spring and summer.
“Just because you have a 73099 zip code, does not mean that you can vote in this election,” Beal pointed out. “You have to be a citizen of Yukon, in our city limits, and registered to vote.”
At Tuesday night’s Yukon City Council work session, Beal described these 17 projects that would be funded by the proposed bond issue:
- Wagner Road: Replace existing asphalt with a 28-foot concrete surface and replace select concrete panels from Yukon Parkway to Sara Road.
- Holly Avenue: Replace select concrete panels and rehabilitate the asphalt section from Poplar Avenue to N.W. 10th.
- Garth Brooks Boulevard: Rehabilitate the asphalt section from Vandament Avenue to Main Street (State Highway 66).
- Yukon Parkway: Replace existing asphalt with a four-lane concrete section from the Preston Park Addition south to SH-66, replace select concrete panels and improve drainage from SH-66 to Wagner Road.
- S Fifth Street: Reconstruct with concrete from Main Street to Poplar Avenue.
- Cornwell Drive/N.W. 10th: Reconstruct intersection to include dual left-turn lanes.
- Garth Brooks Boulevard/N.W. 10th: Reconstruct intersection to include dual left-turn lanes.
- Garth Brooks Boulevard: Widen the street to include new fifth lane from N.W. 10th to eastbound Interstate 40 ramps.
- Garth Brooks Boulevard: Widen the street to include new fifth lane from westbound I-40 ramps to Vandament Avenue.
- Yukon Parkway/Ranchwood Boulevard: Improve intersection with pedestrian crossing and sidewalks.
- Yukon Parkway/Vandament Avenue: Reconstruct intersection to provide protected left-turn lanes.
- S Fourth Street: Reconstruct the street with concrete from Main Street to Oak Avenue.
- Spruce Drive: Reconstruct the street with concrete from Cornwell Drive to Bass Avenue.
- S First Street: Reconstruct the street with concrete from Oak Avenue to Vandament Avenue.
- Kingston Drive: Replace select concrete panels from Holly Avenue to Kingston Place.
- S Third Street: Reconstruct the street with concrete from Poplar Avenue to Yukon Avenue.
- S Third Street: Reconstruct the street with concrete from Main Street to Oak Avenue.
The proposed improvements have a combined price tag of $37.5 million.
The ballot language is “very specific” about this bond proposition, Beal noted.
“It can be to improve lighting, street landscape, pedestrian crossings, and, of course, all the street improvements,” he said.
PROPERTY TAX IMPACT
City officials want to fund the 17 roadway projects by increasing property taxes. This funding method was chosen over hiking Yukon’s sales tax rate.
The City of Yukon’s currently property tax rate is 3.15 mills. This would increase to 15.01 mills if the road bond passes.
In comparison, the property tax rates for Canadian County’s public school and technology center total 105.76 mills.
If voters approve next Tuesday’s City of Yukon election, property taxes would increase an estimated $10 per month for each $100,000 of assessed value.
For example, the owner of a property valued at $300,000 would pay $30 more each month ($360 annually) in property taxes.
The City of Yukon’s bond advisor provided these financing details this week:
“The Yukon City Council will determine the term or length of the bonds (‘term’) issued each year. The current projected term is five years.
“If the streets proposition is approved by the voters, the council will determine in March 2023 the term of the first bonds, called a ‘series.’
“Beginning in 2024, each year a new series of bonds will be issued, and the council will determine the term of the bonds to be issued. Ten series are projected.
“The language of the proposition contained in the ballot as approved by the council when the election was called states that bonds shall be paid within 25 years (‘term’).
“This is standard language of the Attorney General and is the maximum term of each series of bonds. For the Yukon GO bonds, five-year terms are projected.”
There are not enough funds in the city’s operating budget to cover large capital projects without affecting basic city services, city officials said.
Most of the City of Yukon’s operating budget covers day-to-day operations that include all city services like utilities, public safety and quality of life.
Some 80% of the City’s general fund budget covers personnel costs and there isn’t enough left to fund large capital projects like roadways, Kretchmar said at Thursday’s Yukon Chamber luncheon.
Some $3 million was available in last year’s budget for capital improvements – and that was more than usual because of higher sales tax revenues, Yukon’s city manager pointed out.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors recently voted to endorse the street bond proposition.
“If we want Yukon to continue to be the best it is, we’ve got to support this,” Yukon Chamber CEO Pam Shelton said.