A decision regarding how Clark County will fund roughly $66 million in road improvements mostly located near Northeast 179th Street off of the Interstate 5 interchange has been postponed again, with an absence of two of the five county council members and concerns over constantly-changing information to blame.
The council voted to continue a hearing regarding the selection of a funding option for the road improvements until Aug. 20 during their regular meeting last week.
Councilor John Blom, acting as chair for the meeting, announced that although the council would conduct a public hearing on the funding decision at their July 16 meeting, they would not be taking a vote. He said the absent councilors, chair Eileen Quiring and councilor Julie Olson, had “emerging issues” that required their attention that night and thus couldn’t make the meeting.
Council and county staff have spent months attempting to come up with a solution to make up the $66 million. That money would be used to fund road projects required before the county can lift an urban holding overlay on some 2,100 acres located around the I-5/179th Street interchange. The overlay prevents development within it before the needed infrastructure is reasonably funded.
In May, the council had also postponed a vote in order for staff to provide them with a better framework on how different funding options would pan out. Though staff did provide a more granular look at how potentially leveling more fees for developers, raising property tax rates or a combination of both would pan out, councilors were concerned over how much information provided to them seemed to change over several meetings, both at work sessions and public hearings.
Clark County Councilor Temple Lentz said a development agreement final draft for one of several projects proposed in the urban holding area was not presented to the council until the day before and presentation material changed the day of the hearing.
“It’s disappointing to me to once again be in a position where information for a hearing has been replaced and added to at the last minute,” Lentz said. “Our responsibility as councilors is to make informed decisions on behalf of our constituents, and it is difficult to achieve that when neither we nor our constituents are able to review materials in a reasonable amount of time.”
Lentz reiterated a request she has made before, that “complete materials” be available to council and the public at least a week before a meeting. Both councilors John Blom and Gary Medvigy agreed with Lentz on getting documents available sooner.
“The legal minimum may be 24 hours, but when we are dealing with something that affects this many people, involves so much money and has seen substantive changes literally every time we have reviewed it, more time is crucial,” Lentz said.
Council decided to continue the hearing to Aug. 20 and not Aug. 6, their next regular meeting, given the day is the deadline for the 2019 primary election.