As a new year gets started, the city of Clarinda is paving the way for a significant street improvement project.
During its meeting last night, Jan. 8, the Clarinda City Council set a public hearing for Jan. 22 to consider the issuance of $1.5 million in General Obligation bonds to finance the street project. The public is encouraged to voice any concerns it has about the project during that public hearing.
Following the public hearing, the council could consider a bond purchase agreement including the terms of the purchase and the interest rate for the bonds during its meeting Feb. 12. A resolution issuing the bonds could then be approved during the Feb. 26 meeting.
“I have talked to the engineer about the specifications for the project. We are hoping to take bids in late February or early March. If all goes well, we could close on the bonds March 11 and receive the funds. I could see the winning bidder staring on it this summer,” Clarinda City Manager Gary McClarnon said.
Included in the $1.5 million project would be approximately $300,000 for the resurfacing of Garfield Street from Eighth Street to 10th Street in front of the Agriland development that is already underway. McClarnon said when the council approved an 80 percent Tax Increment Financing (TIF) rebate for the Agriland project, the intention was to use the 20 percent retained by the city to pay for street improvements in that area.
“If we’re going to do this street project, this is the perfect time to bid it out and get it done. When you issue GO bonds there are a lot of fixed costs like legal fees. We were going to be paying those fees anyway, so there is no need to wait and pay those costs twice. The more bonds you issue, the cheaper the rate actually is,” McClarnon said.
The remaining $1.2 million of the bond issue would be used to finance asphalt overlays on problem streets in the city.
“I find it very exciting for us to be moving forward with this project. Last winter was hard on our streets and we certainly have some streets that need some help,” McClarnon said.
Despite the size of the street project, McClarnon said he and the council have carefully planned the timing of the project to reduce the impact on local taxpayers. In 2009, the city issued $1.1 million in bonds to pay for a similar street project. Those bonds will be paid off this year.
“When one bond issue is dropping off, we look at issuing General Obligation bonds again. This keeps the tax levy about the same. That way we do not have up and down fluctuations, and we can always use some street improvements,” McClarnon said.
In 2009, the $1.1 million bond issue paid for overlaying 66 blocks of city streets. However, as prices have increased since that time, McClarnon said the engineers have told him the city would be lucky to pay for 40 blocks of overlay with the $1.2 million bond issue this year.
To identify which high priority streets need the most immediate attention, the council recently hired Snyder and Associates to complete a street condition report for the city. The results of that report were reviewed by the council last night.
“They have color coded the streets with red being the streets in poor condition; yellow, fair; blue, good; and green, excellent. We have a lot of red and yellow streets in our town,” McClarnon said prior to the meeting. “I found the street condition report to be very useful. There are some of the red or poor areas, I have questions about, but I agree most of them need to be done. The trick for the city council is to go through and figure out which streets to work on. We have to focus on our high traffic streets.”
Based on the results of the report, McClarnon said the engineers estimated it would cost Clarinda $16 million to fix and overlay all the streets identified as being in poor or fair condition.
“We’ll knock a chunk out this year and we have another bond issue coming off next year. So, we could do another $1 million. That is only a drop in the bucket for what needs to be done, but at least it’s a start,” McClarnon said.