By ASHLEY HELMS
The Village of Mamaroneck is in the midst of shoring up some of its infrastructure, but the repairs won’t come without a price tag for taxpayers.
The Board of Trustees unanimously approved a bond package worth $2.7 million on Dec. 16 intended to pay for various improvements around the village, many of which are finished or already underway. Residents will be paying the $2.7 million, plus any interest accrued on the bonds, through their
Upgrades included in the bond are heating and ventilation equipment for Village Court, located at 169 Mt. Pleasant Rd, which are expected to cost about $552,000, a police band radio system for the village police department, costing about $10,000, and the Jefferson Avenue bridge sewer replacement.
A sewer line at the Jefferson Avenue bridge construction site was broken accidentally by the Arben Group in March 2013. Repairing the sewer line, according to a bond resolution memo, cost about $1 million. The project has drawn the ire of the community after several delays in the bridge’s opening along with environmental concerns after the breaking of the sewer pipe that caused 3 million gallons of raw sewage to flow into the Mamaroneck River.
According to Trustee Ilissa Miller, a Democrat, upgrading the heating system in Village Court involves switching from oil to natural gas. This will save money because natural gas uses less energy and is more environmentally sustainable.
“[The heating system] was wearing out and when you replace something, you replace it with a smarter option,”
The bond had to be approved by a two-thirds super majority on the Board of Trustees because it could affect the village’s credit rating and possibly result in higher interest fees, Miller said.
A two-thirds super majority is when three out of five members of the Village Board vote in favor of a proposal.
“The reason we are doing the bonding is because we have phenomenal credit rates and our scores are high because we pay everything off,” Miller said.
The Dec. 16 bond approval allows the village to borrow in the short term, a maximum of five years, and take advantage of lower bond interest rates, according to Village Clerk-Treasurer Agostino Fusco.
Following the Dec. 16 approval, the village will now go forward with the bond process to cover the expense of the repairs that are being bonded for. At that point, interest rates that will be applied to the bond will become available. Going forward, the village anticipates borrowing on a more long term basis for the repairs. Some long-term bonds could have a lifespan of 30 years.
The clerk-treasurer said that when a municipality applies for a bond, it pays a flat amount to the bond lawyers for the service. Packaging numerous repairs together in one bond saves the village thousands of dollars as opposed to bonding for each individual project.
“We try to use the general fund balance to loan money until we can go out and bond and we save a great deal of money,” Fusco said.
A line item for the debt payments will appear on village budgets in the future, Miller said, but a concern for village government is the 1.67 percent tax levy imposed by the state because it effects how high taxes can be raised, which in turn could effect how much of the bond debts are paid off each year. Miller said the tax levy can be overridden with a majority vote, but village government must be cognizant of consistently voting to override the levy when it goes to bond. Infrastructure maintenance is one of the most costly parts of running a village government, she said.