To take a larger chunk out of deferred maintenance projects in public works, Independence city staff wants to borrow and address more needs now rather than schedule out the projects over several years.
Specifically, the city would finance nearly $18 million over 15 years to obtain several new vehicles and fund a bevy of bridge, curb and gutter, sidewalk and intersection improvements.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on that transaction Thursday as an emergency ordinance in a specially called meeting. The ordinance had been on the agenda for Monday's meeting, which was postponed due to bad weather.
To secure a 4.28 percent interest rate for the financing, City Manager Zach Walker said, the council would need to approve it this week rather than wait until the next meeting on Dec. 30. Otherwise, the interest rate would climb to 7 percent.
The street sales tax brings in about $8 million every year, Walker said, more than half of which goes toward the annual overlay program.
“That doesn't leave a lot for other projects like intersection or curb reconstruction,” Walker said.
The money that would be used for those projects over the years will instead go toward paying off the loan. In essence, Walker said, the city would be “advance appropriating” and borrowing the future.
“It's not covering everything (in deferred maintenance), but it's a step in the right direction,” Walker said, as the city has about $27 million in deferred public works maintenance, according to a city report more than two years ago.
A couple million dollars would go toward the public works fleet. Among the vehicles, Independence would replace 11 snow plow trucks that Public Works Director Tim Gramling said are 20 to 25 years old and in some cases lack available replacement parts.
“Our mechanics have to fabricate parts sometimes,” Gramling said in a presentation to the council a couple months ago. “We would pay less in interest than we would in maintenance.”
Doing a lot of up front work on high-need areas, Gramling said, hopefully would minimize the impact to the public over time, then address the remaining projects on a pay-as-you-go basis.
“We've seen a couple places where we had to close streets because it wasn't safe and we didn't have a plan in place (for that budget cycle).,” Gramling said, including the recently replaced culvert on 42nd Street between Noland and Phelps roads.
Walker said projects will be bid out individually according to city guidelines.