Petersburg’s borough assembly Monday voted to set aside just under a million dollars of surplus revenue from last year that could be used for local capital projects. The money could be used for renovation of the police station, jail and municipal building depending on a funding request to the state.
Last year’s surplus of $950,000 is from additional sales and property taxes collected in the first year of the new borough, along with a payment from the federal government for federal land inside the borough. Petersburg received two years worth of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes funding from Washington D.C. in the same fiscal year.
The assembly Monday was slated to consider a resolution putting half of that surplus in the borough’s property development fund. That pot of money is used for land purchases, repairs and improvements on borough property.
Assembly member John Havrilek suggested an amendment to put the entire surplus into that fund and said he wanted to let people know the borough was serious about project priorities. “You know and I understand we would take out of the general fund if we need it but to me this says, this is our priority, we’re dedicating this money to it if we have to and we want everyone to know we’re serious about this,” Havrilek said.
Local tax revenue and other federal and state payments initially accumulate in the borough’s general fund, which includes operations for many of the main functions of the municipal government outside of local utilities.
The borough has secured about half of the 10 million dollar cost of the proposed police station and municipal building project, the borough’s top capital project priority. Assembly members are seeking additional state grant money in the upcoming session but could eventually kick in some local money for the renovation.
Borough manager Steve Giesbrecht thought moving the money to the property development fund would send a message about the importance of the project. “I like suggesting nice messages to our police folks next door that we are taking this replacement of their mess very, very seriously,” Giesbrecht said.
The police station side of the 56-year-old building has a sinking floor and separating walls because of a failing concrete slab. The borough has developed plans to redo that along with the jail and office space for borough administrators and the finance deparment.
Mayor Mark Jensen thought it would be good to have the money set aside in case state funding needed a local match. “So my view on this is if we’re going through the legislative process with the state and we find out that we do have availability to get some money and they ask where’s your matching grant we say well we have this available. So it might strengthen our hand if there’s anything to be had this year.”
The votes were unanimous to amend the motion and approve that resolution. Earlier in the meeting the assembly voted down a resolution to commit the borough to provide funding for many of the capital projects on its priority list.
Nancy Strand said she was not enamored of the idea. “I think that when we ask the state for funding we should just ask them for the entire amount and if we happen to have some funding available to contribute, then contribute it. But I think the more funds we offer to the state the fewer they will designate for us.”
Other assembly members agreed and voted unanimously against that resolution.