City council discusses flood preparation

SMITHFIELD—With temperatures set to rise significantly in the coming weeks, flooding was a primary concern at the Smithfield City Council meeting Wednesday night. With the rise of Summit Creek after rainy weather last week, and springs west of town haven’t been existent in more than 30 years coming alive again, Mayor Darrell Simmons said city crews have been preparing day and night, and that the they are well prepared for what may come.

“I’ve sure been impressed with the emergency group,” he said. “There is a good comfort level.”

Because Smithfield is prone to flooding, the city has drawn plans for extending a 24-inch storm drain on 3rd south. The council also discussed plans to put a new storm sewer in on new developments on the east side of town

The extension of the 3rd south storm drain was planned into the tentative 2012 budget, which was approved at the meeting. The new budget includes scaled back sales tax, and funding to continue to slurry seal roads. The council is facing a budget deficit next year, around $39,000. City Manager Jim Gass said the deficit can be balanced in a number of ways including a slight raise in property tax. Currently, Smithfield has one of the lowest property taxes in the state. Even if Smithfield doubled the tax, they would still be average in the state, Gass said.

Even with the shortfall, Simmons said it’s most important to see the situation in the long term.

“Difficulty can be good if it helps us look to the future,” he said

The most discussed issue at the meeting was the consideration of Ordinance 11-06, which amends Title 17. Title 17 states that a business may not have a parking lot more than 300 feet from it’s establishment. Because some buildings in town face the issue of being “parking locked”, the council is considering changing this to 500 or 1000 feet. This would allow a business with limited parking to contract with another business within said amount of feet to share parking, so long as that parking is not required for the other business. The ordinance was not approved, but will be reviewed by the council and have a motion carried at the later date.