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Hagerstown plans to sell bonds to fund projects including proposed stadium

August 03, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

The city of Hagerstown plans to sell $9.08 million in bonds to help fund a number of projects, including $4.42 million for property acquisition, facility design and site preparation for a downtown multiuse sports and events center, and $250,000 to buy and level the defunct Municipal Electric Light Plant.

More than half of the bond money, or $5.397 million, would go into the general fund in the 2012-13 fiscal year budget.

The largest sum of that would go toward the preliminary work on the proposed stadium facility that potentially could house the Hagerstown Suns baseball team. A little more than $2.2 million in general fund money already is budgeted for the project this fiscal year.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the funding is in line with the funding formula and action plan agreed upon by the city and the Washington County Commissioners earlier this year.

Other general fund projects include $250,000 toward the purchase, demolition, site work and purchase of the former MELP property on Eastern Boulevard across from Municipal Stadium, $296,000 for a 50-percent down payment for the replacement of the city’s Engine No. 1 firetruck and $431,000 for other projects and emergency needs.

Those other projects and emergency needs include $171,000 for public works vehicles, $110,000 for Market House improvements, $100,000 for Memorial Boulevard underdrain costs and $50,000 for City Park band shell seating.

About $2.2 million would be used for water fund projects, including $1.17 million for the continuation of the meter replacement program, $415,000 to begin upgrades at the Breichner plant, $350,000 for continued replacements of distribution system infrastructure and another $310,000 for other equipment replacements.

A little more than $1.3 million for the wastewater fund includes $580,000 for vehicle and equipment replacements that have been deferred for three years, plus $765,000 for other infrastructure and equipment replacements, repairs or upgrades.

City staff also will recommend using $100,000 for structural rehabilitation and caulking at the North Potomac Street deck, the documents show.

The Hagerstown City Council will discuss the proposal for the bond sale with staff at its work session Tuesday, which begins at 4 p.m., but a final decision to move forward isn’t expected until later this month.

Zimmerman said bond funding is all part of the city’s previously approved Capital Improvement Program, and it follows through with plans for projects in this fiscal year’s budget that were approved several months ago.

City and county officials earlier this year agreed to a formula that would contribute up to $800,000 annually for 20 years toward the proposed downtown stadium, which could be built near the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue.

City officials still are working to forge a new long-term lease to keep the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals in town, but as of last week had not presented a proposal to Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said before the city council meeting July 24 that he expected to have something for Quinn by mid-August.

If approved by the five-member council, final approval and sale of the bonds isn’t expected to take place until late September or October, Zimmerman said.

Currently, the city is rated AA3 with Moody’s and AA- with Standard & Poor’s, both strong ratings, according to a memo from Michelle Burker, the city’s director of finance.

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Summary of bonds, by fund

  • General fund — $5,397,000
  • Water fund — $2,245,000
  • Wastewater fund — $1,345,000
  • Parking fund — $100,000

Total 2012 bond — $9,087,000

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