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Council vote set to borrow for projects

The Common Council will vote next week on borrowing $6.62 million to $7.67 million for a wide range of projects and purchases.

The list would include the demolition of the Main Street parking ramp and new roofs for City Hall and two other buildings. Last month, the Council authorized borrowing up to $8.6 million, but the decision on green-lighting individual projects was put off.

Wednesday, Mayor Michael W. Tucker presented a list of 22 projects that were considered by the city's Capital Improvements Committee. However, that committee decided to put seven of them on hold, while two others already had been included in the regular water and sewer budgets for this year.

Alderwoman Anne E. McCaffrey, R-2nd Ward, suggested delaying more projects to reduce the total cost from $7.67 million to $6.62 million.

She noted that the borrowing would produce a substantial increase in next year's budget for debt service, a blow to the taxpayers she wanted to cushion.

"By bringing it down $1 million, we can keep the amount we pay [for interest and borrowing costs] pretty consistent," McCaffrey said.

With interest rates at record lows and the city's bond rating at a record high, Council President Joseph C. Kibler and Alderman Patrick W. Schrader pushed for borrowing the full amount, even if it isn't all spent right away.

While there was debate over whether to buy particular vehicles or pieces of park equipment, Tucker said there is no dispute over the big-ticket items: the new roofs and the parking ramp demolition.

The 37-year-old ramp, closed six years ago because of crumbling concrete, would be replaced by a surface-level parking lot. The estimated demolition and paving cost is $2,625,000.

Tucker said he expects demolition to be delayed until after the Christmas shopping season to minimize the impact of blocked traffic on downtown businesses.

Roof replacements at City Hall and the water and sewer plants must be done before winter, Tucker said. They would cost about $900,000 each.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com