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Johnson City commissioners approve $22 million bond issue for 2019 projects

Zach Vance • Jan 3, 2019 at 7:32 PM

In their first meeting of 2019, Johnson City commissioners approved a $22 million bond issuance to finance 16 different projects throughout the course of the fiscal year. 

According to the agenda, the actual bond proceeds will total $21.6 million, in addition to approximately $400,000 in interest and issuance costs.

The resolution approved by the commission states the interest rate cannot exceed 6 percent per year, and the bonds will mature serially or be subject to mandatory redemption with payments due July 1 of each year beginning 2022 through 2041. 

“After we put the budget together (each year), we look at the projects approved for funding and determine those that will need to have debt issued for them. Then we look at where we are in terms of implementing construction, and we plan it so we do one issue a year. That way it saves us some time and cost with the bond issuance,” City Manager Pete Peterson said. 

“So what we’ve done is assemble the package of all the projects that we’re doing in this fiscal year to make one issue here in January.”

Peterson said the city also tries to time its issuances to coincide with lower rates in the bond market to keep borrowing costs as low as possible. 

The breakdown of the issuance is follows: 

•  Water/Sewer Fund: Carryover projects include the Brush Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements, $2.6 million; Knob Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements, $1.1 million; and Tannery Knob water tank replacement, $700,000. 

New projects include the Brush Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant aeration blowers and electrical replacement, $2.5 million; Lower Boones Creek Phase I (I-26 Boones Creek Exit), $1.5 million; 2009 Eastern Water Expansion, $1.5 million; Upper Reedy Creek Lift Station, $2 million; and Service Center (phased) $2 million.

•  Solid Waste Fund: Bolton Block property, $2 million. 

•  General Fund: Fire truck, $500,000; Sesquicentennial Legacy Project (City Portion), $1.3 million; Athletic Complex property purchase, $1.4 million; Police Training Center, $1 million; Walnut Street design, $700,000; Schools (Liberty Bell cafeteria completion), $500,000.

•  PEP Fund: Library Roof, $300,000.

As it relates to upcoming projects, commissioners also voted to authorize more funding for the design and implementation of the Sesquicentennial Commission’s legacy project in King Commons Park. Currently, that project entails the construction of a natural playground, bathrooms and a historical plaza circle. 

The original agenda item included appropriating $110,130 for Barge Design Solutions to complete final construction drawings and provide bid and construction administrative services for the legacy projects. 

After speaking with Public Works Director Phil Pindzola, Peterson said he felt the city could perform the construction and administrative work in-house, and therefore, he recommended the commission only authorize $61,750 for Barge Design Solutions to complete geotechnical services and the construction documents. 

Including that $61,750 total, so far, the city has paid Barge $215,860 of the original $300,000 allocated to design the legacy projects. 

In other business, commissioners approved a contract extension with Pepsi Beverages Co. to sponsor the 2019 Fourth of July fireworks event at Freedom Hall Civic Center. This is the second extension approved to the original five-year agreement, which had initially been extended six months through Dec. 31, 2018. 

“This amendment will allow Pepsi to proceed with its planning and commitments for the annual Pepsi Independence Day Celebration & Fireworks for July 2019,” the agenda stated. 

The new extension does include one caveat: It exempts Pepsi from providing “free goods” in the form of 90 cases of 12-ounce cans. This extension will expire Dec. 31, 2019. 

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