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Council members will discuss capital projects Monday

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The Watertown City Council will meet tonight to discuss for the first time the proposed $53.7 million 2012-13 city budget.

The discussion will center on the next year’s capital budget and projects through 2016-17.

Several department heads are expected to attend the meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

Compared with recent years, the $1.2 million capital budget for 2012-13 “is about average” in scope and price, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said. As with previous years, all of next year’s projects will be on a “pay-as-you-go” basis with money from the general fund.

Mr. Hauk said he expects council members to sift through the document and decide which are most important.

“Some projects may move up or down as their priorities,” he said.

The biggest project is an $8.1 million, half-mile reconstruction of Factory Street. It includes new curbs and sidewalks and the replacement of water and sewer lines. The work will start next spring and take about a year to complete.

The city will pay 5 percent of the cost, while the federal government will kick in 80 percent and the state 15 percent.

Other projects in the 2012-13 program include:

n $100,000 to design and install a new surface for a parking lot at the back of the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. The lot that accommodates buses and tractor-trailers also would get a new drainage system.

n $120,000 to resurface the municipal William J. Flynn Pool, behind North Elementary School off East Division Street.

n $200,000 to replace the deteriorating roofs on the pavilion and restroom at Thompson Park.

n $90,000 to rehabilitate the snow dump platform along the Black River. City Department of Public Works crews use the platform to get rid of accumulating snow on city streets.

n $30,000 to determine whether the Sewall’s Island railroad bridge can be converted into a pedestrian bridge. The Watertown Local Development Corp. hopes to market the island for redevelopment, possibly housing.

n $175,000 for a new street sweeper to replace a 1999 vehicle.

n $100,000 to install a waterproof membrane on the Arch Street culvert to prevent further damage from leaking water.

n $60,000 to replace the joints on the Court Street bridge to prevent water damage from weather changes.

n $135,000 to replace a 12-year-old dump truck with a plow.

n $150,000 to continue the city’s sidewalk program. Work would include North Indiana, Summer, Railroad and Columbia streets and Cayuga Avenue.

To help pay for projects after next year, the city will receive $3.1 million in accelerated state aid through the state’s new “spin-up” program. That work would include a variety of projects at the fairgrounds and Thompson Park.

The city — among about a dozen communities across the state that qualify for the program — will get its first accelerated payment in June of next year, Mr. Hauk said. The “spin-up” program will help the city get through some potentially difficult financial times involving both insurance premiums and retirement contributions, he said.

The $53 million tentative budget includes a 2 percent increase in the tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, to about $7.4 million. The projected tax rate is $7.282, or a little less than a penny increase per $1,000 of assessed value.

So far, no other budget sessions are planned. However, a public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 7. The fiscal year begins July 1.

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