At its November 8 regular meeting, the city commission took an important step towards meeting its responsibility to provide a safe and secure quality of life for its residents.
That step was to start the process to secure $22.5 million to invest in infrastructure projects that range from improved water service to street paving to much needed upgrades to the city’s firefighting equipment.
In making the decision, Commissioners took into consideration several factors that the projects to be financed are critical and necessary infrastructure projects and that the city’s bond rating and current debt service is such that borrowing funds are affordable. These are factors many can relate to when facing major personal borrowing: can I afford to borrow this money and is this expenditure necessary? For the Commission to answer to both questions was yes.
The projects to be addressed were determined after a series of meetings by city staff that resulted in a long list of needed infrastructure improvements that were then prioritized. A list of the projects and their cost is stated below. Also noted are those projects considered but that did not make the final priority list.
The Commission was able to make this financial decision because no ad valorum taxes, that is funds received from property taxes, will be used to repay the bond, but rather separate funds that generate income are robust enough to meet the obligations. Were it necessary to use ad valorum funds, then a vote of the public would have been required.
The final approval to the issuance of the improvement bonds is expected at the Commission’s next regular meeting on December 13.
Of the $ 22.5 million total, nearly half or $9.41 million, will be used for the rehabilitation of Riberia Street and improvements for entry corridors along King Street, San Marco Avenue and Anastasia Boulevard that will include water, sewer, stormwater, road and sidewalk upgrades. Because of the variety of work being performed, these funds will be repaid from the city’s Utility, Stormwater and General Funds.
Improved water service to areas west of the San Sebastian with specific upgrades in the area of Volusia and Pearl Streets and improvements to the King Street drainage basin will cost $4.8 million to be repaid from the Stormwater Fund.
Stormwater projects totaling $2.625 million include improvements to the Cordova/Treasury Street drainage basin and funds sufficient to meet matching funds requirement that will allow the rehabilitation of the seawall south of the Bridge of Lions. These funds will be repaid from the City’s Utility Fund.
Public safety is the priority and included are funds in the amount of $3.165 million that will be used to replace aging fire department equipment including its aerial truck, a pumper truck, and the 53 year old island fire station. There are also funds included here to complete work on the former Riberia Street landfill reclamation project, and to introduce a way-finding sign system to encourage pedestrian traffic in the downtown area. Repayment of these funds will be from the General Fund.
Construction of a breakwater on the north side of the of the municipal marina has long been needed to protect the docks from even small storms that can do damage to exposed areas. That improvement and necessary dredging will cost $2.5 million that will be repaid from the Marina Fund.
Projects to be addressed with the $22.5 million bond issue:
Utility Fund Projects
San Sebastian River Force Main - $625,000
Volusia St/Pearl St. Upgrades - $510,000
King St. Drainage - $340,000
Various Utility Projects - $3,325,000
General, Utility and Stormwater Funds Projects
Riberia Street Phase I - $2,900,000
Riberia Street Phase II - $3,810,000
Entry Corridor Improvements - $2,700,000
Stormwater Fund Projects
Seawall Replacement (matching funds) - $1,500,000
Cordova St./Treasury St. Flooding - $1,125,000
General Fund Projects
Riberia St. Peninsula Bank Stabilization - $800,000
Aerial Apparatus Truck - $525,000
E-One Pumper Engine - $240,000
Wayfinding Signage for Downtown - $250,000
Street Resurfacing/Sidewalk Repairs - $500,000
New Island Fire Station - $850,000
Marina Fund Projects
Breakwater and Dredging - $2,500,000
Projects Considered But Not Included in The Bond Issue
Alcazar Hotel Rehabilitation
North Water Works Building Restoration
Exhibit Hall(s) Construction
Spanish St./Charlotte St. Rehabilitation
King St./US1 Corner Rehabilitation
Francis Field Upgrade
Establishment of Spanish Village
Bayfront Band Shell
Riberia Street Park (Galimore Center)
Priority B & C Utility Projects