Council to Vote on Bond Issue Monday
Roswell City Council is expected to decide whether they will send a $24 million bond referendum to voters in November during the meeting next Monday, Aug. 13.
Over the course of several hours and following what was at times a heated debate, Roswell City Council consented to placing an item regarding a proposed bond referendum on the council agenda for next week.
The proposal comes on the heels of a failed penny tax for transpotration projects throughout the metro area. Now the city council must now decide if and when Roswell should bond $24 million to be used for capital improvement projects which often get sidelined at annual budget time in order to keep property taxes down. According to city staff and council, the two $12 million bonds would not put more of a burden on city taxpayers since the timing of the new bonds essentially begin when the prior bonds are paid off.
Roswell City Councilwoman Betty Price said, "We don’t stick our necks out too far. We’re prudent, we move forward with caution."
But while some questioned whether a November bond referendum is too soon considering the failure of TSPLOST, many of the city council members believe Roswell citizens will be more likely to approve money for local projects that directly affect their streets, parks and neighborhoods.
"I have a lot of faith in our residents and their faith in how the city’s run," said City Councilman Jerry Orlans, regarding his support for moving forward with a November bond. "We’ve been talking about this for two and a half years, so I don’t think we’re rushing it."
A list of over $200 million projects was whittled down to just over $40 million, but if a bond referendum is put to voters, the city will have to further narrow the list down to $24 million.
At the top of nearly all of the council priority lists for using the bond money was the Holcomb Bridge/Ga. 400 Interchange. The exit is a source of irritation for many a local resident and is one of the most regionally congested corridors. Because improving it is such a massive undertaking, the city's department of transportation has broken it up into seven smaller projects, three of which are already slated for funding by the Georgia Department of Transportation, regardless of the TSPLOST failure. That leaves Roswell with four improvement projects, at a pricetag of $6 million in total - a cost they hope to cover with bond money.
Another highly touted project on the list was a proposed $6.6 million in improvements to the Roswell Cultural Arts Center. If approved by council to be placed on the bond, the fully-booked center - which has already turned away around 90 requests for rentals this year so far - could add a smaller theater, acoustical additions and movie screening abilities, among other improvements. The enhancements would boost Roswell's place on the cultural arts scene in the metro area and tie into the growing vitality of the city's historic district, proponents suggest. The Historic & Cultural Affairs department was still crunching numbers on what kind of revenue could be generated by the improvements, though they said the operations costs would increase by $50,000 annually.
Other top priorities for the city council seemed to include: a new fire station in east Roswell, historic gateway improvements, the addition of a theraputic pool at the Adult Recreation Center and artificial turf fields. The city's Recreation and Parks staff have said the indoor pool would effectively cover its own operations cost, if built, and artificial turf fields will bring in more tournaments.
City staff will need to bring more cohesiveness to the project list, per the council's direction over this next week. They will propose a final condensed funding list during the Monday, Aug. 13 meeting, at which time city council will decide whether or not the referendum will go forward to local voters on the November ballot.
The council is expected to meet Monday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Roswell City Hall, 38 Hill Street.