December 6, 2012
Funding for the city’s three biggest projects — repairing the Washington Avenue bridge, building a new fire station and repairing the Sedalia Public Library — is a step closer to being complete after a special Sedalia City Council meeting Wednesday.
Financial adviser Carl Ramey told council the city received $7.3 million in bonds with 3.02 percent interest, “an incredibly low rate.”
“We got that low rating in part because the city has a very solid ‘A’ credit rating,” Ramey said. “Sedalia has a very strong capability to attract business. We also had a lot of competition for the bonds. They were spread out nationally, and the more companies you have wanting the bond, the better.”
Ramey also noted the city’s strong reserve fund, “(Sedalia) has always had very good budgeting practices, both building and maintaining that reserve as well as using it wisely when needed.”
The debt service payments will equal out to about $506,000 per year on average, which is less than originally anticipated, and the first payment would be made in summer or early fall 2013.
In the meantime, ongoing work continues on all three projects:
Washington Avenue bridge
With the design work finished, bids for the repair of the 101-year-old bridge went out last week.
Closed around this time last year due to structural concerns, costs for the bridge have risen steadily from the time council chose to repair, rather than rebuild the bridge completely or build a bridge in a new location.
According to City Administrator Gary Edwards, city officials will have a pre-bid meeting on Monday to discuss the bids, but believed they would “be in good financial shape with our $2 million bond allocated for the bridge.”
The bridge is still on track to be completed by fall 2013.
Sedalia Public Library
At the library construction has been ongoing since its closure in August. The building’s front columns have been braced and this week crews are working to take out a window in the building’s southwest corner to get equipment into the basement.
“Once they get everything set up (engineers) will be able to start doing the piering,” said Library Director Pam Hunter.
The piering — which will be done both inside and outside the building — will involve jackhammering down to bedrock. According to Hunter, a similar fix was done in 1955 when the library’s foundation issues were first found.
“At the time they dug down to what they thought was the bedrock,” she said. “It turns out they actually just hit a layer of bedrock and below that was a void. This time we’re going down 30 feet to actual bedrock.”
The piers will support the building as construction is finished, Hunter said. Plans to tear out the building’s front porch and steps are also in the works.
“The porch and steps will have to be completely redone,” she said. “The columns sit on their own foundation so they’ve had to be braced but they should remain stable.”
Crews hoped to start on the piering in early November but Hurricane Sandy delayed the project as the piering company was offered a government contract to work in the affected area.
“Luckily that only set us back a few weeks; better than months,” Hunter said. “Right now we have a start date on the piering of Jan. 7 and a very fluid completion date of early June. It depends on a lot of factors, including weather, but we’re hoping to be completely finished with all the construction by summer.”
So far the board has spent $445,338.19 of its $1.5 million part of the bond on construction costs. On Monday council signed off on a special agreement with the library concerning its debit service payments. Last week the Library Board approved a measure to ask voters to approve a .07 per $100 in assessed valuation property tax. The tax, which would sunset in 25 years, would bring in about $120,000 each year for the library to pay its $105,000 debt service agreement.
If the tax does not pass, and voters turn it down every year until 2015, the city would take over those payments.
“The city will basically ‘front us’ the money for the $1.5 million,” Hunter told the Democrat. “After we’re finished paying off the $1.5, then we’ll tack on to the end of that what we owe the city for the next 25 years.”
Fire Station No. 2
In early November council approved bids for the proposed $3.7 million project to build a new station headquarters to replace the 40-year-old Station No. 2 on West 16th Street.
More than a year in the making, the project has been “a labor of love,” said Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld.
The new station will feature much-needed space, including a classroom area that can be used by the community, more sleeping quarters and offices. Training facilities and a tower that can be used for hose-drying are also in the plans.
“We’d been talking about the need for a new station for years and then brought the idea to council this past January,” he said. “I had no idea it would take this long, though. There were a lot of details to work out.”
The first major detail, the land, kept the project delayed for weeks. Because the current station sits on land owned by the Missouri National Guard, the city had to get legislative approval before it could begin work. That approval didn’t come until the last day of session in June. Then bids came in higher than anticipated and fire department officials had to scale back some of the projects.
“It’s been an uphill battle, but we’re finally at the point where we can see some real progress,” Ditzfeld said. “Depending on weather, we’re looking at substantial completion by November 2013. Of course that would mean we’ve had no significant delays. We’re crossing our fingers with that one.”
The timing is important, Ditzfeld noted, because the city’s new 100-foot ladder truck is expected to be delivered around the same time.
“We’d have nowhere to put it. Our current stations are too small,” he said. “So as long as we can get the bay areas finished, we should be OK.”