By KATIE HOOS
The City of New Rochelle is looking to bond for infrastructure enhancements as part of its 2014 capital improvement program which will add $2.6 million to its overall debt.
On Feb. 4, the New Rochelle City Council unanimously voted to approve the issuance of eight bonds, totaling more than $2.6 million, which will be used to pay for various improvements and repairs around the city. The city also received $8.5 million in state and federal grants toward this year’s budgeted $13.9 million capital improvement program.
Improvements the city is bonding for include the partial reconstruction of City Hall, located at 515 North Ave. The city is bonding $250,000 to cover the cost of window replacement, HVAC system replacement, the purchase and installation of a back-up generator and asbestos mitigation.
Mayor Noam Bramson, a Dem-ocrat, said these installments will benefit city taxpayers.
“These enhancements improve the energy efficiency of the government complex and will lessen city tax dollars spent in fuel and building operations,” he said.
Additional city infrastructure upgrades set to be bonded for are the purchase of a new boat lift at the municipal marina located at 22 Pelham Road, which will cost $160,000; improvements to storm drains throughout the city, at a cost of $190,000; purchases of a fire engine and a fire command vehicle, costing $618,000 and $60,000 respectively, and the purchase of public works vehicles and a parks bureau truck, totaling $810,000.
Bonding for $328,714 in dra-in-age improvements to the Hal-cyon Park area of the city, which frequently sees flooding during heavy rainfall and powerful storms, was also approved.
Enhancements to the drainage system include a new culvert—a structure that allows water flow under roads—increased piping capacities to alleviate flooding, new manholes, relocating gas and water mains, and relocating and replacing sanitary sewer pipes.
The city received a $1.7 million grant from FEMA in 2013, which will cover the majority of the $2.3 million Halcyon Park drainage improvement project. The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York provided a $250,000 grant toward the project as well.
Another major project going out for bond is the replacement of traffic signals at 20 intersections on Main and Huguenot streets. Federal transportation aid
totaling $4.3 million and state funding of $801,300 through the Marchiselli High-way Impro-vement Program will pay for the majority of the project, leaving the city to bond $245,000 and pay the remaining $22,100 from its general fund.
“The traffic signal upgrade is a long awaited improvement that will greatly improve traffic flow in the downtown area,” Bramson said. “Fortunately, it’s funded almost entirety by federal and state grants.”
According to Finance Comm-issioner Howard Rattner, the bonds are short-term notes that will mature in five years. Rattner said the city typically purchases notes that require a piece of the principle bond amount to be paid each year for up to five years, so that will likely be the case when the city purchases these bonds. He said the bonds will likely have an interest rate between 1.5 to 2 percent.
The city currently has $68.1 million in outstanding debt as of Dec. 31, 2013, and once these bonds are issued, the city’s debt will increase by $2.6 million.
When asked by the City Review how these bonds will affect taxpayers, Rattner was uncertain, stating he wouldn’t know the answer until next year when the city makes its first payment on the bond. Rattner estimated the amount would be rather insignificant.