West Monroe Board of Aldermen

Mayor Staci Mitchell says an online survey is available to anyone, whether a city resident or not, who has an interest in the future shape of downtown West Monroe.

Mitchell and her chief of staff, Courtney Hornsby, notified the public of the survey during the West Monroe Board of Aldermen’s special called meeting Tuesday.

“There’s roughly 30 questions,” Hornsby said. “It shouldn’t take you very long. You have to decide whether you like one thing or another.”

Mitchell said the survey’s questions concern the downtown area only.

The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7TTLQGT

The Board of Aldermen called the special meeting to re-adopt an ordinance creating an economic development district at the former Trenton Golf Course property and levying a 5-mill property tax there, too. The Board of Aldermen previously adopted two ordinances for those measures earlier this month, but those versions contained typographical errors, according to West Monroe attorney Doug Caldwell. Caldwell is the city’s legal counsel.

City officials also are considering expanding the boundaries of the downtown West Monroe economic development district and levying a property tax there as well.

Under state law, an economic development district has the authority to levy up to a 5-mill property tax, a 2-percent sales tax or a hotel occupancy tax.

No election is needed because no voters live within economic development districts.

The online survey discussed Tuesday could lead to recommendations about how to spend the revenues from any property tax or sales tax that might be levied in the downtown area.

Earlier this year, the city used grant funding to retain an engineering and planning firm, McClure, of Clive, Iowa, to conduct a study to determine the city’s best path forward to develop its downtown area. McClure is responsible for the online survey.

“They are asking the opinions of the public,” Hornsby said. “They got 333 responses in three business days. They would love to get more feedback.”

Alderwoman Morgan Buxton asked whether the survey’s results depended on the number of participants.

“Do we have a target or goal that we’re trying to get? A certain number of residents for feedback?” she said.

“It doesn’t have to be residents,” Hornsby said. “It could be a shopper, a tourist, anyone who has an interest in the downtown.”

McClure is expected to hold additional “public visioning” hearings in November to gather more specific feedback about possible projects in the downtown area, according to city officials.

It could be several months before specific projects are recommended or prioritized.

“Their whole plan won’t be ready until March or April,” Mitchell said.

“The meetings will be more focused, not big picture but specific goals,” added Alderman Thom Hamilton, who owns a business in the downtown area.

On another front, the Board of Aldermen approved the expenditure of $150,000 to make improvements to the Austin Street Sewer Lift Station.

“This is an expansion of the wet well and the replacement of pumps,” said Robbie George, with the Monroe engineering firm, S.E. Huey.

George is the city’s consulting engineer.

As part of the project, S.E. Huey will be paid $89,5000. Other project costs include $50,000 for a resident project representative and $10,500 for topographic surveying.

“It’s the largest lift station at the end of our system, taking all the sewage from our system and pumps it to the treatment plant,” George said.

“They’re very large pumps. We shouldn’t have to do anything with it for a long time after that.”

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