City eyes borrowing for capital projects

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BELOIT - The City of Beloit will be borrowing more money - increasing its captail projects budget 80 percent over last year - to make improvements to city infrastructure.

The Beloit City Council approved the initial process to secure a total of $13.55 million in general obligation bonds, revenue bonds and notes to help fund capital projects and to satisfy debt service obligations.

The items will come back for final council approval next month, according to city staff. Of the $13.55 million, over $8 million is covered under current water and sewer rates, city staff said.

In November 2017, the council approved $21.49 million for the city's capital improvement plan, up from $11.82 million last year. Of the total, $12.29 million will be used for infrastructure improvements. The remaining funds will be designated for development, equipment, building and grounds or financing purposes, according to city budget data.

The 2018-2023 capital plan identifies various projects across the city in a tiered, multi-year funding format. Funding for projects largely depends on the city's ability to issue new general obligation bonds.

The total bonds and notes reflect as follows:

• $4.07 million for sewer system improvements over 20 years

• $4.05 million for water system improvements over 20 years

• $3.32 million for capital projects designated as corporate purpose bonds over 20 years

• $2.16 million note for cemetery debt service and capital projects over 20 years

All bonds with projected interest included:

• Sewer system revenue bond: $5.75 million

• Water system revenue bond: $5.90 million

• Corporate purpose bond: $4.61 million

• Cemetery/capital projects: $2.49 million

Both the sewer and water system bonds are considered revenue bonds and are covered under the current water and sewer rates, accordint to city staff.

Capital projects slated to be funded this year include $2.39 million in street improvements; $392,000 in parks improvements; $230,000 in Beloit Fire Department projects; and $220,000 in general redevelopment, according to the city's bond report.

After the bonds are sold, the city's remaining borrowing capacity will be approximately $28 million, according to the report. This year the city is expected to handle $4.9 million in debt service, carrying a total general obligation debt of $44.5 million, according to the report.

The city's overall general obligation borrowing in 2018 of $5.48 million decreased from 2017 when the city borrowed $7.14 million in general obligation bonds.

Officials have previously lamented the city's narrow borrowing capacity as a roadblock to approving large-scale construction, like the building of a new Beloit Police Department. The city also is under restrictive state levy limits, limiting the city's autonomy in generating revenue.

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