WOODWARD - The city of Woodward moved one step closer to the largest infrastructure improvement in the town’s history Monday when the city council approved payment to the engineering firm of Veenstra and Kimm Inc. for services regarding a hot mix asphalt (HMA) street improvement project.

The HMA street improvement project, if approved, would pave every non-paved street within the Woodward city limits. According to Woodward Mayor Brian Devick, the improvement project would save the city $35,000 in yearly street repairs.

The engineering costs for the work was proposed at $124,000. On Monday night the council agreed to pay that amount to Veenstra and Kimm to get the engineering work underway.

In a coincidental turn of events, the city of Woodward recently received $122,800 in state road-use taxes after annexing an area north of town. That left $1,200 to pay in order to get engineering work started.

Although the street improvement project is a hot topic in Woodward, the only item on the agenda Monday regarding the issue was whether to pay for the engineering work with funds the city currently has or to sell a bond to pay for the research work.

The council unanimously voted to use current funds in order to avoid unnecessary interest rates associated with a bond.

"The city council has voted and decided to go ahead and hire engineering services so we can better define the scope of work, so we can know exactly how much side work, drainage work, prep work and other work needs to be done along with the streets so we can have a sharper number," said Devick.

During the open forum portion of the council meeting, several concerned citizens of Woodward questioned the financial information presented during previous meetings, including a public hearing and special session held Feb. 5 to discuss the project.

One citizen asked for more "transparency" from the mayor and council regarding the amount taxes would be raised in order to pay for the resurfacing project.

In a previous meeting, the mayor used an estimate to give citizens a general idea of what the HMA street improvement project might cost.

However, the estimated start date for the project, if approved, is the summer of 2015, so the mayor assured the public there will be several public hearings before starting any project that involves a bond.

In an uncommon action, Devick asked the council for permission to speak to the attendees of the meeting. The council approved, and Devick rose from his chair and used a whiteboard to help explain the details of the street project, including projected tax implications.

He spent about 20 minutes fielding the audience’s questions on the subject.

"I believe in being transparent in everything we do," said Devick. "I will personally sit down with anyone and go through every page of the resolution."

The city will receive an accurate idea of what the street project will cost once the study is completed by the engineering firm, which will take several months.

In other business, a public hearing was held for the adoption of the Woodward city budget for the fiscal year 2015.

The budget showed a decrease in the tax levy from $14.97 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation in 2014 to $14.79 per $1,000 of valuation in 2015.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, the council approved adopting the 2015 city budget.

The swimming pool at the Woodward Golf Club was also an important topic at previous meetings, as members of the club had asked the city to contribute $3,000 a year in order to help keep the pool open.

The pool was built in 1969 and with declining memberships over the past 20 years, the club lost more than $4,000 last year.

The council agreed unanimously that the pool is a benefit to the community and approved resolution 2014-04 to pay $3,000 a year to the Woodward Golf Club.

According to minutes from previous meetings, the money will be used to supplement family pool memberships by reducing the cost from $175 to $75 per year.

The council also voted to refinance the city’s current storm sewer general obligation bond.

With seven years remaining on the bond, refinancing at current interest rates could save the city approximately $40,000.

The next scheduled Woodward City Council meeting is set for Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m.