The City of Portland took a major step toward funding the restoration of City Hall and phase two of the improvements at the waste water treatment plant at the Feb. 3 meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The board approved unanimously the issuance of General Obligation Bonds (GO) in the amounts of $4 million for the funding of the renovations to city hall and $16 million for phase 2 of the improvements at the sewer plant.
According to Finance Director Doug Yoeckel, the timing is right to issue the bonds because rates are historically low. He added that the city will be getting updated ratings for the new issues.
The $4 million GO bond will be issued in February and is secured by taxes the city will collect. The work on the renovations will begin when the City Hall building is completely vacant.
The concrete block building the city recently purchased has been torn down and they are in the process of moving the offices housed in the City Hall to various places in town.
The $16 million GO bond will be issued in April and is secured by sewer rate increases for customers. The city is under a mandate from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to improve its sewer system.
Portland is under a moratorium and is restricted to the number of new sewer taps that can be issued. The anticipated growth of the city will be halted if the state continues to restrict the number of sewer customers that can be added.
The board voted for a 30 percent increase in sewer rates when the plan for improvement was presented. In June 2019, they gave approval for a 15 percent increase in the sewer rate. At the Feb. 3 meeting, Mayor Mike Callis suggested the additional 15 percent rate increase could be pushed further out in the future because of savings that have occurred recently such as decreases in overtime pay.