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Infrastructure demands mean big budget increase for Rexburg in 2016

$14.2 million, or 22.7 percent. That’s how much Rexburg’s city budget is increasing from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2016. The increase comes out of necessity as the city pursues several major upgrades with its infrastructure to keep up with growth and demand.

“We have about fifteen hundred more students per year,” said Mayor Richard Woodland. “They all require infrastructure. That’s a lot of flushes when you think about it, and we have to provide and stay out in front of those needs.”

Speaking of flushes, the two major areas of spending are with the city’s sewer and water systems. The biggest sewer system upgrade at the water treatment plant is already in its final stages.

“We issued a bond in 2010 for the water treatment plant,” said Matthew Nielson, Rexburg’s chief financial officer. “You can see that it’s a six to seven year process to finish those out.”

Other upgrades to the sewer system include expanding current sewer lines, and increasing capacity of the city’s storm sewer system in several places.

To accommodate for Rexburg’s increasing water demands, the city plans to spend nearly $12 million to upgrade it’s water infrastructure. This will be the first major investment in the city’s water systems since the mid-1970’s. The upgrade will benefit from financial help from the Department of Environmental Quality.

“The Department of Environmental Quality loan is about $11.1 million, but they have offered to forgive some of the principle amount of about $2.1 million,” said Nielson.

City leaders expect to complete several road repaving projects where they plan improve the utility lines along these roads in the process. Folks can also expect construction on 2nd east to expand the road and alleviate expected traffic congestion near the future Walmart.

City parks will see a lift with the new budget too. $160 thousand is planned to complete new green space at Riverside Park. Another $800 thousand will go towards constructing a new baseball/softball quad at Community Fields.

Also included in the budget is the remaining money needed to complete the Center Street Fire Station upgrades. The city will also hire six new full-time personnel with one of those coming from a current part-time employee.

Most of the money for this year’s budget will come in the form of new tax revenue and growth. The increase in the state’s gas tax will help with many of the road projects. New neighborhoods and apartment complexes add new sources of property tax revenue. Utility rates will also increase by about 1.3 percent for the average homeowner. Other sources of revenue include urban renewal contributions, and left over money from Rexburg’s general fund.

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