Two inquiries, still in the very early stages, about locating industrial operations on land south of Offutt Air Force Base have the city and the county considering new ways to install sewer infrastructure in the area.
Sarpy County Administrator Mark Wayne told the Sarpy County Board Oct. 8 that a year-old interlocal agreement between the county and the City of Bellevue should be adjusted to eliminate a requirement that Bellevue taxpayers approve a half-cent increase in the city’s local sales tax.
Revenue from that tax increase was to help fund installation of infrastructure in hundreds of acres south of Offutt and east of Highway 75. Voters rejected the tax hike in last November’s election.
Wayne told the board the City of Bellevue now believes it can help fund the project by using money in its keno-funded Community Betterment Fund and its sewer revenues.
Bellevue City Administrator Dan Berlowitz said those were the most likely funding sources.
“We have the Community Betterment Fund and the wastewater fund,” he said. “Those are funds there that could go toward infrastructure, or we could bond it. We have ways of doing this.
“The good thing is that we wouldn’t be paying for everything because of the partnership with the county.”
Wayne said he has been in contact with the Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation about two projects.
One concerns land currently occupied by the defunct PCS Nitrogen plant, and the other concerns land on the other side of LaPlatte Road.
Wayne said he knows very little about either project other than they involve manufacturing and would consume large amounts of water.
Toby Churchill, executive director of the Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation, said he cannot comment on specific cases but that a great deal of interest is being expressed about land surrounding the new bridge over the Missouri River currently under construction.
The key is installing water and sewer systems, he said, with electricity posing less of a challenge.
“We have had, and continue to have, a lot of interest in that site because of the new Hwy. 34 bridge connecting I-29 to Hwy. 75,” he said.
But, Churchill said, the infrastructure problem remains difficult. The city of Bellevue cannot use the state’s tax-increment-financing laws as a funding mechanism because the land sits outside Bellevue’s city limit, he said.
Churchill said the likely solution is that a client will have to bear the cost of infrastructure installation and be repaid over time as other businesses hook up to the systems.
HDR Engineering of Omaha has estimated the first phase of infrastructure installation will cost about $2 million.
Wayne said that would open “many hundreds of acres” for development.
Commissioner Tom Richards, who represents the Bellevue area, said the pending completion of the new bridge over the Missouri River means it is time to push harder for infrastructure improvements.
“There’s a huge piece of land down there, and the decking on the bridge will soon start,” he said. “There’s a serious development project looking at that area, so good for us.”
Commissioner Don Kelly, whose district includes southern Bellevue, also urged the improvements.
“It is in our interest to get some smart development there,” he said. “It could be a very significant development.”
The board asked Wayne to revise the interlocal agreement.