Watertown council approves financing for 2012 Streets and Parks Project

By Matt Bunke, Community Editor

The Watertown City Council approved a 10-year financing plan to pay for the 2012 Streets and Parks Improvement Project during its June 26 meeting.

The project will finance the project through a 10-year, roughly $2.2 million bond. The city had originally considered both 10 and 15-year bonds, but settled on a 10-year bond to save approximately $250,000 interest costs.

According to City Administrator Luke Fischer, the city is expecting a 2 percent interest rate on the bond, which would be the lowest rate of any debt the city holds. With interest, the total debt is expected to be about $2.48 million.

Fischer said the city would try to bend the debt around existing city debt in order to maintain a stable debt service levy over the course of the 10 years. This is an effort to avoid spikes or drops from year to year in the tax rate.

Repayment of the bond will be funded by four main revenue streams: the debt service levy, assessments to property owners, the general fund and enterprise funds.

Property assessments are expected to cover about $728,000 of the project. The city will also incur assessment costs for land it owns in the projects areas: Madison Street Park, Highland Park and the former Motzko property next to Highland Park, which the city recently purchased.

The city’s share of assessment costs will impact the general fund, while water and sewer costs associated with the community park project will impact the Enterprise Funds. This is expected to create a need for another utility rate increase in the future.

The city council approved the Streets and Park Improvement Project during its May 27 meeting. The project will include the construction of two streets in the new Community Park site, as well as the extension of utilities through the park. The 2012 project will also include the reconstruction of portions of Hutchinson Road, Madison Street, Hunter Drive, Sugarbush Trail, Dutchmans Way and Jackson Avenue.

In other business:

The council discussed plans for a new city Web site design with Ben Moonen of Five Technology, the company that is designing the site.

The new site design is intended to improve the way the site looks and functions, display more prominently the parts of the site that are most frequently accessed by residents, and include a blog feature that will allow city staff to provide frequent updates on projects and other things as they develop and progress throughout the city. The new site will also be easier for city staff to update and maintain.