Johnson town commissioners may soon authorize a first bond resolution to fund upcoming capital projects.
The city initially released and then removed a $63.5 million bond issue from the committee’s draft agenda for Thursday’s regular meeting.
Among other expenses, the resolution said the funds could help finance improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems, stormwater management system, public infrastructure, parks facilities, municipal administrative facilities. or schools.
The commissioners plan to hold a working session this Thursday before their regularly called meeting to discuss the potential bond issue. A city spokesperson said no city staff would be available for an interview on the subject before that meeting.
It is not clear if a bond issue will finally be on the agenda this Thursday or at another meeting in the near future.
Johnson City Mayor Joe Wise said the city would back the money for identified projects and most of the funds would be earmarked for expenses already approved by the city commission, such as rehabilitating West Walnut Street.
He said the borrowing environment is as competitive as it is likely to be for the foreseeable future.
“Issuing debt now or early March will cost taxpayers a lot less than if we don’t do it before June, September or December,” Wise said. “…It will be much more beneficial to have those funds already borrowed now when (interest) rates are lower than they will be.”
According to the city’s 2022 fiscal year budgetthe city plans to issue $35 million in new general bond debt, which will fund two multi-year projects: $22 million for a portion of the West Walnut Street Improvement Project that will come from the general fund and $13 million for the construction of additional diamond fields at Winged Deer Park.
The city has yet to borrow that money, and a city spokesperson said it would be included in the potential bond resolution that commissioners will discuss Thursday.
Johnson City recently launched an approximately $33 million project in the West Walnut Street corridor that will involve redesigning the streetscape and underground utilities.
The city is also preparing to build new grass softball diamonds and natural grass soccer fields at Winged Deer Park. The expansion project has an estimated cost of approximately $15.5 million. City officials said they expected construction to begin in March and take about 12 to 15 months.
At the end of fiscal 2021, the city had about $188.4 million in total outstanding debt, according to its annual financial report. Johnson City is subject to debt limits in its charter, and excluding sales tax revenue debt, total bond debt cannot exceed 10% of the assessed assessed value of the property in the city.
During their Thursday business session, commissioners will also review federal funds the city has received under the American Rescue Plan Act, which total about $13.4 million. City leaders said they wanted to use the funds for “transformative” projects.
The City Commissioners meet the first and third Thursdays of each month at 6:00 p.m. in the Committee Room at City Hall, 601 E. Main St.