Preliminaries over for center; DuPont council votes to build

DuPONT - Getting built is the only thing left on the to-do list for DuPont's civic center.

The DuPont City Council ended 2 1/2 years of work Tuesday night as it voted unanimously for Mayor Steve Young to sign the leases that will roll the $17 million project into its construction phase.

"We are on our way," Young said as he signed. "I think it will be the hallmark of the city."

"I feel like applauding," said Bill McDonald, city administrator.

The next steps will be securing permits and constructing the roads and other infrastructure needed for the future police and fire station, city hall and other buildings slated for the 14-acre property.

The developer, Panattoni Development Co., is expected to begin construction in January.

'Lease, lease back'

The project is being funded by a process called "lease, lease back," McDonald told attendees at a town hall meeting last week.

It does not require a bond levy, but the payments the city makes to repay the debt will be almost identical to those in a traditional bond.

The process also limits the city's liability during construction.

The developer leases the property to be developed from the city, and, when construction is complete, the city will effectively "lease" the buildings back from the bank the developer's debt is sold to.

The city does not pay anything until construction is complete.

In other business, the council:

n Gave preliminary approval to a plan that would allow the city to recover fees for its newly formed ambulance service through billing of insurance companies and patients. Final approval is expected at the Aug. 7 c ouncil meeting.

n Rejected by a split vote an ordinance that would have amended council rules to include a s tanding committee structure.

Such a structure would have required council members to sit on committees with city staff.

Council members would have been responsible for bringing matters from their committees before other council members for consideration.

Council members Larry Wilcox, John Ehrenreich and Roger Westman voted in favor of the measure; Megan Pottorff, Penny Coffey, Jennifer Crouse, and Linda Cumberbatch voted against it.

An attempt to bring the matter up again at another meeting was quashed by the same vote.

n Approved, also by a split vote, a sewer-rate increase of $55 for residents of the city's Historic Village.

The money will go to pay off a debt for the sewer that is being transferred to Pierce County. Council members Wilcox and Pottorff voted against the measure, saying they had heard complaints from Historic Village residents on fixed incomes.