News Column

Funds needed for road construction

May 15, 2014

By Kate Coil, The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.



May 15--Contractors and city leaders discussed the future of a long-awaited major thoroughfare Monday.

John Ring, owner of Tennessee Contractors Inc., approached the Board of Mayor and Aldermen during its work session to discuss the ongoing construction on Commonwealth Drive. Ring said when the idea of the road was first developed in 2011, he partnered with the city, Pinnacle Bank, First Farmers and Merchants Bank, and Fitts Land Partners, LLC to finance the construction.

As the city was financially unable to commit money to the project, Ring said then-Mayor Michael Dinwiddie agreed to allow him to recoup money from tap fees along the road in exchange for Ring paying in the city's portion of the road upfront. However, Ring said he is now at a point where he can no longer keep putting money into the project. At the present time, Ring said he is hoping to finish curbing on the road and bring it to a point where final pavement can be laid.

"We have to have money to complete the project," Ring said. "We are out of money, and we've already put in more money than we intended."

He told board members one of the four original partners has since backed out and Pinnacle Bank has already constructed all of the road they agreed to finance.

"I said I would finish the road, and I'm a man of my word and honor," he said. "I certainly wasn't counting on one-fourth of the partners not coming through."

Ring said he was hoping either the city or other private partners would step up to help complete the road.

Alderman Jonathan Duda said city leaders recently ranked Commonwealth Drive as the sixth most important transportation project out of 20 road projects the city is planning. Duda suggested the board repeal the original agreement made with Ring to allow him to recoup tap and instead have city pay Ring the $343,000 he would have collected in tap fees to allow him to finish the road.

Duda also suggested allowing those who own property bordering Commonwealth Drive be given incentives on building or other city permits if they choose to help funding the road project.

CHARITABLE GIVING

Alderman Amy Wurth said the city's budget committee has recommended $19,000 donations be given to seven local organizations that applied for funds. The committee recommended the city give $2,500 to the Spring Hill Ham Festival, $2,000 to Senior Citizens Spring Hill, $2,000 to Senior Citizens Maury County, $2,500 to the Spring Hill Arts Center, $2,500 Keep Maury Beautiful, $5,000 to the Well Food Bank and $2,500 to the Pay It Forward Festival.

"We wanted to evenly spread those donations to all of the groups without exceeding $20,000," Wurth said. "We spent over $64,000 on charitable donations last year. Our goal, because we want to cut our costs and how much we are donating taxpayer money, we decided to cut that down to $20,000."

All of the groups receiving money are registered 501(c)(3) groups, City Finance Director Jim Smith said.

Vice Mayor Bruce Hull said the city also reorganized how it defines organizations it gives money to, categorizing groups as city committees, business partnerships and charitable organizations.

INCOMPLETE ROADS

After several residents from the Reserve at Port Royal lobbied city leaders to take action against their developer for not completing road paving in their subdivision, Assistant City Administrator Dan Allen said representatives of other neighborhoods have been approaching the city asking for similar action.

Developers are required to finish paving streets in city subdivisions once construction is 80 percent complete, but Reserve residents said their subdivision was 96 percent complete and had not been paved. City leaders then voted to give developer John Ring until June 30 to complete paving or bond money he paid into the city would be used to pave the streets, instead of being returned to Ring at the end of construction.

The Reserve is not the only subdivision facing this issue, and Allen said he has compiled a list of about 25 neighborhoods that are 80 percent complete but have not received their top coat of paving.

"I did some quick estimates on what it would cost the city to go ahead and top out these roads," he said. "There are a few sections where we don't have enough bond money to pave. There are others where we are working at the developers to get streets paved."

Allen said he will report back to the board in September to update them on what projects have been completed. At that time, he said the board may choose to take action against developers who have not complied with the paving requirement.

___

(c)2014 The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.)

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Source: Daily Herald (Columbia, TN)


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