After being handed a new “credit card” via the state legislature’s approval of Cambridge’s .5% sales tax increase, the Cambridge city council went about “shopping” for the projects that will be funded by the money collected through the sales tax increase.

Before going into the list of potential projects, city administrator Lynda Woulfe explained that the state requires the city to specifically list which projects will be funded and the amount of money dedicated to each project. She also said there are certain state requirements that limited what projects could be funded.

“A specific capital project means a single building or structure, improvements within a single park or native recreation area, a continuous trail, a continuous segment of roadway or two or more continuous segments of roadway, and sanitary storm sewer or water project in continuous geographic area served by the project that is specifically described in the resolution,” Woulfe said.

Woulfe also told the council that these specific projects must be submitted to the state’s commissioner of revenue and that the resolution must remain on the city’s website for the duration of the sales tax increase. She also updated earlier information by saying there must be a 90-day advance notice to the commissioner of revenue, so the sales tax will not go into effect until Oct. 1.

Before voting on the projects to be funded (see itemized list), the council asked about a few projects that were on the original list of proposed projects that was presented to voters, but did not make the final list. Among those were a splash pad and pickleball courts.

Woulfe explained that since they were allowed to fund improvements to only one park, they chose Sandquist because “it has been in the (long-range) plan the longest.” However, by funding Sandquist improvements with sales tax revenue, funds budgeted for Sanquist will be freed up for other projects.  

Mayor Jim Godfrey also noted that Sandquist was the most expensive of the possible projects, which would make it easier for the city to fund the other projects on their own.

“We just can’t use local option sales tax for them, but we can use city revenues,” Woulfe said. For example, the splash pad could be paid for with additional revenues from Northbound Liquor, which would have otherwise been used for other parks projects.

“This is going to enable us to put in a splash pad earlier than what it looked like if this didn’t pass,” confirmed city council member Lisa Iverson.

In terms of the pickleball courts, Woulfe said those would be included in the 2020 street improvement project bidding, much like the original pickleball courts were funded.

Library timeline modified

Because the state legislature took longer than expected to approve the sales tax increase, Woulfe asked the council to amend the purchase agreement the council had previously approved for the housing of the library at the old Gables East building.

“Now that the local sales tax has passed, the other thing we need to do is update the purchase agreement for the new library with the new delivery dates,” Woulfe said. “Now that we know we can begin construction, substantial completion is now set for April 15, 2020, and final completion by May 2020.”

City buys a UTV

Police chief Todd Schuster came before the council to request permission to purchase a Yamaha Viking UTV that the department had actually been using on loan from Larson’s Cycle for the past two years. Schuster explained that the original loan agreement, which was entered into by then-chief Dwyer, included a provision that the UTV would be returned to Larson’s Cycle every six months and a new UTV would then be issued.

“It was never returned to Larson’s during any portion of the agreement,” Schuster said. “Therefore, putting us in violation of the agreement. Larson’s Cycle contacted us a couple weeks ago and informed us we now had to purchase the UTV because Yamaha contacted them and said they had to buy it. Returning it to them was not an option at that point.”

Schuster said the UTV only has 56.4 engine hours and 300 miles on it, so it was in “almost new” condition. He also said Larson’s will sell it to the city for $10,600, which is $4,500 below the original manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

When asked how this oversight had occurred, Schuster admitted he had not seen the original contract. 

“I would assume it’s somewhere in the laserfiche system,” he said.

Woulfe added that she also wasn’t aware it needed to be returned every six months. 

“They just said we couldn’t draw holes in it or make permanent modifications or adjustments to it,” she said.

Schuster said the UTV will be utilized in things like parades, during inclement weather and to reach areas that can’t be reached with a squad car.

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