Bond refinancing could pay for Complete Streets
City Council will vote on refinancing proposal on Sept. 26
FARMINGTON — The City Council will decide whether to refinance two sets of bonds to pay for several major capital projects, including finishing the river trails system and revitalizing downtown.
The council delayed voting on the refinancing proposal until the next council meeting because Councilor Linda Rodgers was not present at this morning's meeting. The council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at Farmington City Hall, 800 N. Municipal Drive. Meetings can be watched at fmtn.org.
The City Council already has approved using $6 million from the refinanced bonds to build a water park that will replace Brookside Pool. When the council approved refinancing the bonds for the $6 million water park in June, it also asked the city staff to look into other projects that could be funded using refinanced bonds.
During this morning's meeting, several additional projects were presented to the City Council. Those projects include purchasing a new fire truck ($1.2 million), completing the river trails system ($2 million), implementing the Complete Streets project in downtown Farmington ($5.1 million in bond money, plus other funding), renovation and addition of lighting at some athletic fields ($270,000), replacing part of the aquatic center's roof ($500,000) and completing a portion of the Civic Center expansion.
After the City Council approved the Civic Center expansion last year, interest rates on loans increased. That created a $500,000 funding gap in the Civic Center project, City Manager Rob Mayes said.
The councilors present during the meeting voiced support for the idea of refinancing bonds to pay for the projects.
"These are projects that I think we as a council have listed as priorities for so long and have believed wholeheartedly that would spur economic development, would improve quality of life and just touch so many people in the community," City Councilor Nate Duckett said.
The river trails system has been built over the past 35 years in conjunction with the nonprofit River Reach Foundation. The downtown revitalization and Complete Streets project also have been in the city's plans since the early 2000s, but they have never been fully funded. The Complete Streets project is intended to make the district more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Duckett has been working with an ad hoc committee over the last year to identify improvements that could be made to the athletic fields.
"It just seems crazy that with one vote we can accomplish so much," City Councilor Sean Sharer said.
The council is also considering using the bonds to build a new miniature golf course estimated to cost $1.6 million. However, during Tuesday's meeting, councilors favored looking for other funding sources for the course. If the miniature golf course were included, the city would pay 3.17 percent of its general fund budget each year on bond debt, or approximately $1.8 million. Currently, the city pays less than $1.6 million a year on bond-related debt.
In other news, the city will spend up to $2,500 to have 250 signs created for the Slow Down Farmington campaign. The city found a company that will produce signs for less than $3 apiece, but it is not local. Mayor Tommy Roberts said the council could justify spending up to $2,500 on signs if the city could find a local sign maker. Estimates are that it will cost $7.50 per sign if the city goes with a local company, so it will likely be less expensive than the $2,500 that has been allocated.
The campaign is intended to discourage speeding in neighborhoods. Residents will have the chance to get a Slow Down Farmington yard sign during National Night Out, a community event presented by the Farmington Police Department from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington, 1925 Positive Way.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.