City Council moves forward on $14 million bonds to fund projects

The City of Clinton is a step closer to funding new construction or upgrades to its Police Department, Fire Department and Recreation Complex though installment purchase revenue bonds.
 
On Monday, Council voted unanimously on first reading of an ordinance to allow administration to proceed.
 
The installment purchase revenue bonds will total $14 million with 30-year financing. It involves the creation of a non-profit corporation as the borrowing entity that leases the facilities back to the City as bond payments are made. 
 
The cost of the construction is $10.5 million – $6.5 million on general fund improvements for fire and police, and $4 million for the recreation complex. The City puts up $3.5 million of project equity (cash reserves) to fund the residual portion of the Recreation Complex, which totals $7.5 million.
 
That's $10.5 million financing on $14 million in projects.
 
Exactly how the money will be spent is still in flux.
 
An option presented in December featured a substation at $678,264; a police station at $1,095,965; and a fire department at $4,279,856 for phase 1 and $409,657 for phase 2.
 
One unknown addressed last month was the location of the courts. City Administrator Bill Ed Cannon offered two possibilities – court in council chambers with the above plan; the building of two fire stations (one near Ext. 54 and one on Greenwood Hwy.) and renovation of the Public Safety building for court; or renovation of the community center for court.
“I think we're set on the police department,” said Cannon. “You may have other ideas. This is a large expenditure that will affect the City for 50 years. We need to make the right decisions.”
To do that a workshop was scheduled for Jan. 14, at 6 p.m., to discuss options and look at the cost associated with different options. Council also discussed meeting two or more times each month due to its full plate of projects.
 
“If it takes three or four meetings to get it right, we will meet,” said Mayor Bob McLean.
 
Council can proceed with second reading on the installment bonds in February and fill in details later, but a set plan of action needs to be in place before financing offering documents are presented. Quick movement is needed to lock in interest rates.
 
Hospitality revenues would pay back the recreation complex debt payments. General fund revenue would pay back the general fund debt payments.
 
Despite the option chosen, the City can't take out more than $14 million in bonds or it would be forced to look at raising taxes.
 
In other business:
• 2020 Spirit of Christmas decorating awards: Ward 1 – Carlos Whitmire (101 Washington St.); Ward 2 – Cindy Tucker (157 Pine St.); Ward 3 – Clattie Putnam (710 N. Broad St.); Ward 4 - Walter Reynolds (504 Jefferson St.); Ward 5 – Bob and Vickie Benjamine (703 N. Adair St.); Ward 6 - Clarissa Messer (201 Young Drive); Business winner – House of Pizza. Ward winners received a $50 credit on their utility bill and the business winner received $100.
 
• Annual Awards: Police Officer of the Year - Chris Moore; Fireman of the Year – Clay Ward; Fire Commitment to Training – Daron Vincent; Highest Call Volume – Kenneth Robertson. Council also approved a resolution to honor George Howell for more than 45 years of service as a volunteer firefighter.
 
• Laurens County Museum's Laura Cook and Debbie Vaughn talked about the partial opening of the Witherspoon Building on Nov. 15 and future plans, including a revolving theme exhibit. City of Clinton administration was directed by council to pursue collaboration with the Museum, involving artifacts from the now defunct Clinton Museum.
 
• Council voted unanimously to proceed with Phase II of its Connectivity Study at a cost of $10,500. Funding will come from hospitality tax.
 
• Council voted to purchase 1.3 acres at 304 W. Pitts Street, future site for the Clinton branch of the Laurens County Library.
 
• Council approved first reading of an ordinance approving the sale of 40 acres of City owned property on the southeast side of Hwy. 72. A national company looks to develop the property.
 
• Council voted to hold a public hearing on amending the City's operating budget for 2021-22. It allows for the bond issue to occur.
 
• Council approved first reading of a new subdivision ordinance, which will affect future construction.
 
• Council approved a contract with W.K. Dickson for service related to water and sewer planning. The review, rate study and roadmap will help the City prepare for losing 56 percent of its revenue, when LCWSC's new facility on Lake Greenwood is operational, between Nov. 1, 2021 and May 2022.
 
• Council authorized a three-year contract with CTR Coatings for manhole rehabilitation. The cost is $37,000 per year. A spray-on material will keep rainwater and groundwater out. This prevents infiltration, which raises the cost of sewer treatment.
 
• The Community Grant Assistance Committee approved $1,500 for Family Promise.

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P.O. Box 180
513 North Broad St.
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-1900
Fax: (864) 833-1902

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