City moving ahead with bond issues

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

City moving ahead

with bond issues

By Jeremy Weldon

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Batesville’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen will soon advertise its intentions to borrow up to $16 million with the issuance of general obligation and water/sewer bonds, and barring serious opposition at public hearings, will begin the infrastructure improvements before the year’s end.

Aldermen met with representatives of the Butler Snow law firm last week for final details of the financing options for the ambitious public works projects. The board was reminded that a municipality has three years from the time of issuance to begin projects, and also given an opportunity to review repayment options.

The various upgrades and new projects potentially covered under the bond issue are not finalized, but the main expenditures have been discussed. Funding will come from two sources – a general obligation bond for up to $8 million and a water/sewer bond for the same amount.

On the general obligation side, the first $2.6 million will be set aside for the City of Batesville’s commitment to the purchase and initial costs of The Concourse when the Northwest Mississippi Community College satellite campus is built at the site of the Outlet Mall.

Groundbreaking for that project is set for October. The rest of that bond money has been earmarked for a new fire station and a municipal complex building for Van Voris St. Other projects under consideration with that bond capital include renovations and additions to the Parks and Recreations Dept. and other city service departments, including the Gas Dept. and Street and Sanitation.

The general bond will be repaid with an increase in the millage rate to produce enough ad valorem revenue to make payments on the debt without using any of the money the city currently takes in and budgets for its regular operations.

Until final bond numbers and property valuations inside the city limits are calculated it’s unclear to know what the increase will be for taxpayers, but early estimates are that 3 to 5 mils of tax assessment will be realized.

On the water/sewer project, city officials have recently raised the service rates sufficient to cover the repayment of that bond issuance, if approved. Those funds will immediately be used to upgrade and  repair damaged sewer lines throughout the system with the main goal of alleviating the ongoing flooding and sewer backups in East Batesville with each rain of more than a half-inch.

After notices of the intentions to issue the bonds are published, officials will hold a public hearing for comments from the general public. Should there be significant opposition, the board may ask for a smaller bond issuance using the same procedure.

The City Board will next meet Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 2 p.m.