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City wants $30 million bond for capital improvements

Would help eliminate backlog of street projects by 2018

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 7:41 am

At an open house for contractors Tuesday, Mayor Tom Henry predicted that a “ton of projects” would keep them busy over the next several years, “no matter who the mayor is.”

A four-year capital improvement plan submitted to City Council later in the day by Controller Pat Roller outlines how the city intends to do that – in part through the sale of a $30 million bond that would be repaid through county economic development income taxes (CEDIT) over 10 years.

Although Roller acknowledged that some Council members might prefer a “pay-as-you-go” approach to road projects and other capital improvements, she said borrowing at an expected average interest rate of 3 percent would allow the city to complete more projects more quickly. Together with $21 million in anticipated cash payments, the entire backlog of street repairs and improvements is expected to be completed by 2018, she said. Revenue from the bond, which would require separate City Council approval and could be issued early next year, would have to be spent within three years.

Roller said the 48-page report, which was discussed but not voted upon at Tuesday's meeting, is unusually comprehensive in part because “in prior years, we didn't have as much money. If you have more money, you need internal controls.” The report reflects recent recommendations of the mayor's Fiscal Policy Group and in part reflects additional revenues generated by City Council's July decision to increase local income taxes by 0.35 percent.

In 2014, the report anticipates about $45.27 million capital improvements. Henry said last month that $13.6 million will be available for road projects next year. Other categories to receive improvements include parks, trails, sidewalks and public-safety equipment.

“We're blending revenue streams. Our goal is to keep every contractor working,” Henry told the crowed at the open house. "Nobody in our state is doing what we're doing. Everywhere I go, people give me a thumbs-up, not a finger. That's unusual.”