By Eric Swanson
ADA — Ada voters will decide this summer if they want to keep a special sales tax for street upgrades and economic development.
The Ada City Council voted 4-0 Monday to extend the one-cent sales tax which has been in place for 14 years. The council also called for a public vote on the issue and set an Aug. 28 election date.
Councilman Guy Sewell was absent.
The sales tax dates back to 1998 when Ada voters approved Propositions 1 and 2. Voters approved proposals to renew the tax in 2002 and 2007 and will vote on a third renewal in August.
The initiatives authorized the city to impose a one-cent sales tax and use three-fourths of the proceeds for road improvements and other public works projects. The remaining one-quarter is set aside for economic development projects, such as retaining existing businesses and recruiting new ones.The Ada Jobs Foundation estimates Proposition 2 sales tax revenues generate roughly $3.2 million for economic development over five years, according to the foundation’s website.
Figures on how much Proposition 1 generates were not immediately available Tuesday.
Mayor Greg McCortney wondered whether Proposition 1 tied officials’ hands by specifying that sales tax dollars should be used only for streets and sewers.
“There’s never a shortage of street, alley, water and sewer projects,” he said. “But if this was just to go to capital improvements, so that we would have a little more flexibility on how fast we could use that money as the years go by. To me, it just seems like we’re being more specific than we necessarily have to be.”
But Councilman Darrell Nemecek said the language in the ordinance was intended to let residents know the money would be used only for certain projects.
“I think that’s what it was,” he said. “It was to be used for streets, alleys, water system, sewers.”
In other business, the council:
• Exempted places of worship located in an arts district from having to obtain a certificate of approval.
Churches and other worship sites in transitional and residential arts districts are exempt from having to obtain a review and recommendation from a special committee.
• Condemned the buildings at 219 and 223 1/2 N. Stockton as dilapidated and ordered the property owners to tear them down.
The council delayed action on the building at 223 N. Stockton because the owner, Capital Development, plans to repair the building. But Capital Development indicated it could not start work on the building for at least 60 days.
Whenever the city condemns buildings, the owners have 30 days to file an appeal. If they decide not to appeal, they must tear down the building in less than 90 days.
If the owner doesn’t meet the deadline, the city will tear down the building and then file a lien against the property in hopes of recovering the cost.
• Rezoned the northeast corner of the intersection of Pre-Paid Way and Stonecipher Boulevard from a single-family residential district to an office commercial district.
The rezoning clears the way for Life Community Church to build a new church and a memorial chapel on the site.
• Agreed to support a tax credit award to rehabilitate a 60-unit housing development at Rolling Meadows Apartments, 1300 Kerr Lab Road.