Public hearing is Friday on city $5.8M bond issue
Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 7, 2003
[8/07/03]Vicksburg taxpayers will get their say Friday on a proposed $5.8 million bond issue that may result in increased water and sewer rates.
A public hearing is set for 10 a.m. at City Hall Annex. City officials will accept citizen comments on a plan to borrow money to pay for water, fire protection, sewer improvements and new water wells.
When announced in July, city officials said the bonds would be repaid out of water and sewer funds, but South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman said he doesn’t know how much of an increase could be needed.
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“That number has not been determined yet and it may not have to be until next year,” Beauman said.
The administration borrowed $17.5 million in its first year for infrastructure improvements and downtown revitalization and began making annual payments of about $2.3 million on that debt through cuts in other departments.
Beauman said it may also be possible to repay the $5.8 million through tax revenue rather than increasing monthly utility bills.
“We still feel like there’s some fat in the budget and we’re still cutting,” he said.
The hearing date is also the deadline for residents to submit a petition calling for a vote on the bond issue. One person appeared before the city board and on TV23 seeking to start a petition, but the City Clerk’s Office has received none.
Other than the building of six water wells, most of the funds will go to water lines and fire protection in the annexed areas and installation of electronic meters that use radio transmissions for readings.
In all, the city is planning about $8.5 million in improvements, but will use a $2.7 million federal grant to offset some of those costs, Strategic Planner Paul Rogers said.
The city can borrow up to 20 percent of its assessed property value, or about $53 million. Today, Vicksburg owes about $21.3 million for money borrowed over 10 years. That money financed various projects, including the construction of the Vicksburg Convention Center and the city swimming pool. The city has borrowed about $45.1 million over the past decade.
A vote can be forced with the presentation of 1,500 registered voters’s names on a petition, but voters here have not called for an election on any bond issue in 50 years.