Voters in Atlantic, Tuesday, soundly defeated a bond measure to pay for renovations to the 2nd and 3rd floors of City Hall, but that doesn’t mean interest in the project died with the bond issue. City Councilperson Kathy Somers, during Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, thanked the Council for allowing the 2nd floor issue to come before the voters in a referendum.
Somers asked if a group of citizens could make the project more viable by going after placement of the building on the National Register of Historic Places, which would make grants more accessible. Mayor Dave Jones said if grants and a proposal are obtained, the Council could consider options at that time.
The City has already issued $100,000 in bonds for an elevator that would have made the 2nd floor handicapped accessible, but since the project is not going to happen, discussion turned to how that money would be used. City Administrator John Lund said there are a couple of options available. Lund said “The investors into our bonds, really, all they care about is what’s the risk to [The City’s] credit rating, and that we repay the money back, plus interest. It’s the State that’s more interested in making sure there’s not shenanigans going on with the money. So, we could commit it to other things, but there’s a number of steps that we’d have to go through, but nothing too elaborate.”
One of the problems that came up during a State Inspection of the City Hall building, was with the electrical system on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Mayor Jones said the Community Development Committee can handle decisions related to taking care of electrical issues. Councilperson Dana Halder pointed out that the money was only to go to maintenance of the building if the Public Measure failed. City infrastructure, particularly with regard to technology improvements, according to local businessmen, and Halder are essential if Atlantic is to grow jobs. High Speed/High capacity internet service is one area sorely lacking in the community, especially for businesses that rely on the technology in order to compete globally.
He said “I think we need to do everything we can to work together and make this come through, because, that’s jobs. That’s one of the things I think we need to focus on and help get accomplished, so we can get that through the goalpost, and I think it would be easier for us to attract new businesses to town.” Mayor Jones said it would also help retain current businesses. Jones said the City has tried to convince service providers to upgrade internet and/or invest in fiber-optic systems, but those efforts have been met with little success. He said the question remains, who is responsible for securing higher technology, the City, or the Utilities?