By Emily Le Coz | NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The city next month could issue the first of several anticipated bonds for a host of capital projects and purchases, including a multi-million-dollar aquatic center.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. presented the proposed $3.9 million bond issue to the City Council on Tuesday. It requires council approval before it can be issued, and Reed said he wants it out before year end.
“This is the lowest rates have ever been, and it certainly makes sense to step on out and take advantage of them,” the mayor said.
The bond would fund a half-million-dollar fire truck, about $400,000 worth of vehicles and equipment for the Public Works Department, and $2 million in engineering and early construction costs of the new $11.3 million aquatic center.
More than a half-million dollars would go toward neighborhood improvements – otherwise billed as infrastructure improvements – which will help the city purchase and demolish dilapidated structures and generally spruce up older neighborhoods to attract families.
Finally, the bond would fund the first phase of some long-anticipated improvements to Gumtree park, which sits along one of the city’s major entrances off Front Street. It sets aside $85,000 for trees and a new plaza there.
“We want to plant trees along the main highway coming into the city to beautify the roadway,” said Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis. “Then we want to open the entrance way on Tolbert Street and create a plaza coming into the park so the neighborhood can take advantage of the park and playground already there.”
It’s all part of a five-year capital projects plan approved last month by the council. The plan, which was pitched by Chief Financial Officer Lynn Norris, separates large-scale expenditures from the general fund budget. And it envisions paying for them all through bonds issued over the next several years.
In all, some $32 million of capital projects would be funded through Fiscal Year 2015. It would take an estimated two decades years to reimburse all the bond debt.
Norris said the city is financially able to assume the debt, which will not affect its current bond rating or require a tax increase.