At its meeting this week, the Auburn City Council discussed possible dates for a special referendum on allocating money from the city's 5-Mill Tax Fund to pay for Auburn City Schools projects.

The 5-Mill Fund, a property tax that has been around since the 1940s, used to fund recreational and infrastructure projects in the city before residents voted in 2015 to use the monies raised to fund ACS projects.

"The council has given the Auburn City Schools board use of the city's 5-Mill Fund, and in order for the 5-Mill Fund to be used it has to be used only for what the electorate agrees to allow it to be used for," said City Manager Jim Buston. "It's an up-and-down vote. Yes, we want to use it for whatever is presented or no we don't want to use it for whatever is presented."

The council landed on a potential date of Aug. 13 for the special referendum, although Buston said the city needs to address the potential date with the ACS Board of Education before any date is finalized. If the board has no problem with the Aug. 13 date, the City Council will take official action to finalize the date for the referendum at its meeting on May 21.

Auburn City Schools will come up with a list of specific projects that it wants to pay for using the 5-Mill Fund, which residents will vote on whether to approve.

"So Auburn City Schools will come up with a ... set of projects, sort of like the renovation of Drake or the renovation of Cary Woods," Buston said. "They'll have a series of projects that they want to do that the 5-Mill Fund will support."

A request to Auburn City Schools by The Villager for information about what projects might be presented was not returned by print deadline.

The council also directed the city manager, at the request of Councilman Kelley Griswold, to develop an amendment to the zoning ordinance for Academic Detached Dwelling Units that would prohibit those projects on parcels within or abutting the North College Historic District. 

That amendment will be presented to the Planning Commission, most likely at its packet meeting in May. The earliest the council could consider the issue would be at its second meeting in July. A public hearing would be required.

Griswold first proposed the amendment at the last council meeting, which drew immediate shouts of protest from developers in attendance who noted its potential impact had not been weighed or vetted by the Planning Department and that the public had not been given the opportunity to comment.

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