Decatur’s Bond Projects: Where Was the Money Spent?

Below you’ll find a quick summary of how Decatur’s 2006 bond projects projections panned out, according to a 2006 vs. 2010 Bond Projection spreadsheet (pdf) recently compiled by the City of Decatur.  The spreadsheet was created at the request of the city commission to provide residents with a breakdown of how the individual projects in Decatur’s 2006 $16.4 million bond have fared financially.

The City Manager has contended previously that many of the larger discrepancies below are a result of going with “long-term solutions to address facility needs instead of making short-term renovations and repairs.”

Note that my numbers below do NOT include the “Funding Other Sources” columns found in the spreadsheet.  So if there’s a particular discrepancy that interests you, I’d suggest checking out the full spreadsheet first to make sure that spending wasn’t off-set with another form of funding.  (Example: Land acquisition for parks)

Legend = (2006 projection vs. 2010 projection)

Continue reading “Decatur’s Bond Projects: Where Was the Money Spent?”

City Commission Approves Shifting Bond Funds and Exploring Financing Options

Last night, the Decatur City Commission unanimously approved City Manager Peggy Merriss’ suggestion of repurposing the remaining $3.7 million in Public Works bond funds to help build the Decatur Recreation Center and authorized her to explore other financing options to fund renovations to the unfinished projects from the 2006 bond referendum (Rec Center, Fire Station #1, Public Works).

Life intervened for me and I couldn’t attend the meeting, but the DNO and InDecatur have reports.

Of particular note were comments by Commissioner Jim Baskett who praised the City Manager for figuring out a way to fund the unfinished projects, and made clear that unlike some of his constituents, he was not “caught by surprise” by the need for more funds, since some projects – like McKoy Pool and Fire Station #2 – ended up costing more than anticipated.

Baskett also confirmed my suspicions that the Commission wasn’t willing to support funding these unfinished projects with a millage increase.

According to the DNO, both Commissioner Baskett and Mayor Floyd admitted that there may have been a communication breakdown in alerting the public that some of the bond projects were taking on increased costs that might affect the completion of other projects down the road.

A Resident Report From the Decatur Bond Meeting

Judd writes in…

Just back from the bond meeting. For me there were two main headlines. First is that the bond being proposed to the City Commission would be about equal to the 2006 bond, i.e. around $16. It would not cover Beacon Hill, but would cover the list of items listed in the 2006 bond. So the total bill is roughly double what was put before the voters [ in 2006]. Second (and I suspect of great interest to DM readers), this bond will not go before the voters. No referendum. It’s a different type of bond, made possible, in fact, by the credit the City has established from the first bond.

In case you missed it earlier, the city is projecting around $8 million to build a new Public Works facility and $5.7 million to renovate the Decatur Recreation Center.  I assume any remaining funds would be used to renovate Fire Station #1 downtown.

The city is pursuing this now because if finalized this year, the bonds would be interest-free under the Federal Government’s Build America Bonds program.

To Build or Not to Build; To Tax or Not to Tax

According to a newspaper website, the city of Decatur currently has two financing options on the table if it decided to build the unfinished projects left over from the 2006 bond referendum (Fire Station #1, the Rec Center, and the Public Works building.)

The city could raise the millage rate by .4 (equivalent to $72 a year on a $400,000 house) or it could dip into its reserve fund for two years and then use $900,000 a year in capital improvement sales tax money, which is currently being withheld by DeKalb County, to make the loan payments for the remainder.

As the Mayor pointed out in an off-hand comment during a recent commission meeting, the city has to make a decision regarding the ongoing HOST sales tax lawsuit it has with DeKalb County.  Either the city can continue the lawsuit, which is slowly crawling its way back to the GA Supreme Court again, and hope that they win AND that DeKalb can somehow come up with the $10 million in owed back taxes, or they can drop the lawsuit, give up the $10 mil and start getting their nearly $1 million a year from the County “tomorrow”.

I’ll have to get clarification, but I’m assuming that the idea of using two years of reserve fund money is mainly a time-cushion to insure that whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, the city will at least be receiving its annual $1 million from the county by that point.

The city is holding a public information session on our options tonight at 6:30p at City Hall.  Click here for more info.

New DHS Gym & Auditorium Opens Oct 11th

CSD’s Maria Lewis makes the announcement to the community…

City Schools of Decatur is excited to announce the opening of Decatur High School’s new gymnasium and auditorium. Doors will be open to the public on Sunday, October 11th from 2-4 p.m. Please come join us in the celebration!

City Buys Roly Poly

Courtesy of Google StreetView

Looks like the Cemetery Master Plan is moving right along.

Carl points out that last night’s City Commission agenda includes the following note: “Recommend authorizing the Mayor to execute documents to purchase 811 Church Street.”

Well, that would be the Roly Poly building.  And according to Carl “the Cemetery plan has always included removal of this building (as well as the “art shack” on Bell St)”.  A closer look at the plan shows that this building will be torn down in order to widen the Church St. entrance.

Summer Fun: Many Bond Projects Scheduled to Begin Soon!

Yes, we’ve seen the “directionally-challenged” wayfinding signs going up (and sometimes blocking/or being blocked by other street signs), we’ve seen some impressive sidewalk replacement, and the construction of McKoy Pool, but really we’re waiting for the city’s larger bond projects to get underway.

Well, hold onto your hats Decatur citizens because starting this summer/early fall, much of that $14.6 mil will begin to be spent!

Check it out: (And click the links for more detail)

West Ponce/West Trinity Bike Lanes: (Start Date: June 08 )

Oakhurst Streetscape Improvements: We’re talkin’ trees, sidewalks and crosswalks in downtown Oakhurst (Start date: July 08 )

Downtown Streetscapes: East Trinity and Church Street get a facelift (Start Date: Sept 08 )

Fire Station 2 Rebuilt: Oakhurst Fire Station 2 being replaced (Start Date: Aug 08 )

Decatur Cemetery: Stormdrains? Not sure what else. (Start Date: Sept 08 )

Glenlake Park: Tennis players took issue with plans to cut back on the # of tennis courts due to a natural spring under them, but these plans (that include many changes and improvements to the whole park) were still approved by the city commission. Wonder where they will put the new tennis courts. (Start Date: Sept 08 )

All of this is taken from the city’s website, so start dates and whatnot may not be absolutely up-to-date.

I welcome any info, updates or revisions!