Council approves bond issue for new fire station

By Gus Bode

Mayor Joel Fritzler swears in new Carbondale police officer Michael McFarry Tuesday night at the Carbondale City Council meeting. The council voted unanimously to issue bonds for a new fire station, as well as refinance bonds from 2004. Genna Ord | Daily Egyptian

The Carbondale City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to issue bonds to fund a new fire station.

“I’m looking forward to a new fire station,” Mayor Joel Fritzler said. “I’m sure the fire department is as well.”

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The new fire station will be built on a lot the city purchased at Sycamore and Glenview. It’s estimated to cost $2.8 million.

There’s currently no timetable for when the new station will be built, Fritzler said Monday. The design will probably be finalized this winter, and hopefully the station could be completed by next fall, he said.

It will replace Fire Station #2 at 300 S. Oakland.

Station #2 is 50 years old and would not withstand a major earthquake, according to the bond issue ordinance cover sheet.

It also needs a number of major renovations including a new HVAC system, roof and floors, and repairs to the sewer system. The restroom and showers are also not set up to accommodate female employees.

The bonds are also refinancing the 2004 bonds totaling more than $4 million in principal. The 2004 bonds were themselves a refinancing of the 1995 bonds, which were issued to pay for the construction of the Carbondale Civic Center.

Low interest rates made this the time to approve the bond issue, the request for the bonds said.

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“Staff analysis shows that if we wait to refinance the new fire station at a later date, that interest rates will likely go up and the cost of construction will definitely go up,” City Manager Allen Gill said.

The bonds were structured to keep total debt payments as level as possible, Gill said.

“People are really wanting municipal debt right now because they see it as more of a safe harbor now than the stock market,” said Steve Adams, a representative from Bernardi Securities, the firm underwriting the bonds.

The total payout during the lifetime of the bonds will be $5.3 million for the ones refinancing the 2004 bonds and $3.8 million for the fire station bonds, Adams said.

The Council also heard a presentation from representatives from Ehlers Inc., a firm that prepared a report on the city’s water and sewer systems with Fehr-Graham and Associates.

The firms found that the city needed to replace water mains, line sewer pipes, make repairs to the sewage treatment plants and replace pumps, seal covers and other system components. Ehlers found that the city’s income is sufficient to pay for operations and debt payments, but depreciation of the city’s capital investments continues to grow and income is not sufficient to pay for capital asset replacement.

The firm recommended restructuring the city’s water and sewer rates to include a low flat monthly rate plus charges based on usage.

The council also voted unanimously to approve a fair day’s designation for Nov. 3 for Cartoon Network Carnival in the parking lot adjacent to Hangar 9. The carnival features music from independent artists and characters from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, according to a letter from Carbondale Main Street Executive Director Meghan Cole.

 

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