Pierce County plans to borrow to replace bridges, fix buildingsELLSWORTH -- The Pierce County Board has laid the groundwork to accept federal stimulus assistance to borrow $1.7 million for several projects, the most expensive of which are two bridges.
By: Judy Wiff, The Republican Eagle
ELLSWORTH -- The Pierce County Board has laid the groundwork to accept federal stimulus assistance to borrow $1.7 million for several projects, the most expensive of which are two bridges.
To proceed, the plan to issue and sell general obligation bonds must be approved by at least 13 of the 17 County Board members. A vote is expected Tuesday, with bonds being offered for sale May 25.
Under the federal Stimulus Act, Pierce County may issue nearly $1.7 million of recovery zone economic development bonds. The U.S. Treasury will pick up 45 percent of interest on the bonds.
Joe Murray, the county's financial adviser, predicts a true interest cost of about 2.5 percent, saving the county about $80,000 in usual borrowing costs.
Payments would be about $192,000 a year for 10 years. According to Murray, the average Pierce County home is assessed at $199,000 and the annual tax impact of the debt on that home would be about $12.50.
While priority would be given to other projects, including replacing the Courthouse roof and remodeling restrooms in the courthouse and the county office building, the bulk of the money is expected to be spent to replace bridges on County Road F in Clifton and on County Road U south of Plum City.
The bridge on F has an estimated price tag of $5 million and the bridge on U is expected to cost $1.6 million, Highway Commissioner Chad Johnson said.
The state will pick up 80 percent of the cost, leaving the county to pay about $1.32 million for both bridges.
Johnson said the Highway Department's multi-year plan calls for the work to be done in 2011 and funds have been set aside to help pay for the project.
The board allocated $850,000 in its contingency fund to help pay for the bridges, said Finance and Personnel Committee member John Kucinski, who objected to borrowing for road projects.
"When you put something in (the contingency fund), that is its legal purpose. We can't be hiding the ball," Kucinski said. "Tell me the last time we borrowed for a bridge."
The county has always had the foresight to save for bridge, road and building projects. but with recent economic restrictions, that money has been needed for other purposes, replied Supervisor Jeff Holst, who also serves on the Finance Committee.
"This happens to be a new opportunity that just popped up," said Supervisor Dan Reis, who serves on the Building Committee.
When the county borrowed $4 million in 2008 to tackle a list of building projects, it had only estimates and the money didnít go as far as expected, Reis reminded board members.
These are the other projects to be funded: Courthouse roof, estimated cost $31,000; parking lot resurfacing and lighting, $208,000; Courthouse tuck pointing, $25,000; Courthouse handicap-accessible interior doors, $20,000; and update and remodel restrooms, $200,000.