The City Council at its March 5 meeting is expected to give final approval for a ten-year borrowing of just over $2 million for capital projects included in the 2018 City Budget. These non-utility projects are being funded with tax-supported general obligation (G.O.) debt.
Major projects being funded in 2018 include:
- Resurfacing of 27th Street from Forest Avenue to Washington Street (also includes water and sewer work)
- Parking lot resurfacing at Vets Park (also includes upgrades to storm water mains that run through this area, discharging to the river), a project already bid and set for completion this Spring; this project is also receiving DNR grant assistance.
- Phase 2 of the Sandy Bay Highlands conservation subdivision, which will add 22 new home sites (project already bid and set for construction this Spring)
- Expansion of public parking areas serving Vietnam Veterans Park
- “Permanent” financing of new police and fire radios purchased in 2016 with initial financing through Motorola (0 percent for 24 months)
- Completion of the east side bike trail along STH 42 to the high school (one mile long, 10 foot wide paved trail)
The City is also borrowing another $250,000 to reduce a longstanding liability to the WI Retirement System. Over the past several years, that liability has been reduced from just over $4.1 million to about $2.5 million.
The City will be retiring about $2.4 million in existing G.O. debt principal in 2018, so overall City debt will see a net reduction of about $400,000.
Two Rivers will also be undertaking utility capital projects in 2018 that will require borrowing to finance long-term assets. Major projects include a $4 million wastewater plant upgrade that I addressed in last week’s column, water main replacement projects on Adams Street and 37th Street, the utility work on 27th street addressed above, and sewer main lining in various locations.
Most the utility borrowing will be through Wisconsin’s Safe Drinking Water Fund and Clean Water Fund, which offer very favorable rates for such projects.
City Manager, Utility Director in D.C.
Electric Utility Director Ken Kozak and I attended the American Public Power Association’s annual legislative rally in Washington D.C. Monday-Wednesday of this week.
This annual gathering focuses on legislative and regulatory issues facing the nation’s municipal electric utilities. Wisconsin was well-represented, with 65 attendees from 25 different utilities. Also attending were representatives of TR’s power supplier, WPPI Energy, and the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin (MEUW).
In addition to various programs and speakers, the conference included visits to Capitol Hill with Wisconsin’s U.S. Congressmen and Senators to address public power issues.
This annual D.C. gathering also presents an opportunity to meet with Congressional staff on other issues of importance to our communities.
This year, I met with staff reps for Senators Johnson and Baldwin, as well as Congressman Grothman, regarding TR’s interest in improvements to its outer harbor, which should be funded through the budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
2017 City Operations Balanced
While still subject to review by the auditors, it appears that the City’s 2017 General Fund budget ended the year in balance.
Total spending, at $10,048,272, was about 2.3 percent above budget, primarily due to higher-than budgeted overtime in the Police and Fire/EMS budgets.
That extra spending was offset by higher-than-budgeted revenues in several areas, notably EMS charges and in-house engineering charges for various capital projects.
Two Rivers City Manager Greg Buckley can be reached by calling 920-793-5532 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.