CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Coral Springs is considering borrowing $25.5 million to complete a string of new public improvement projects – a prospect that will put the city in further debt and could require residents to pay more in taxes and fees.
The proposed projects include rebuilding parts of the city’s public works and public safety complex, constructing a new fire station and senior center, and improving a park.
If city commissioners approve the proposal as early as next week, it could mean the owner of a single-family house valued at $300,000 would pay at least $21 a year in new taxes and fees.
This would be on top of additional taxes city officials have planned for residents in the years to come to cover existing city expenses.
City officials said this week the projects would cost $31 million, but the city would apply $4 million from a pending sale of the former city hall site on Sample Road and another $1.5 million in “existing borrowing” toward the work.
That would bring the borrowing to $25 million.
Coral Springs is already $77 million in debt from previous projects dating back at least seven years, including the new city hall building, according to the city budget.
In the budget approved last month for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the city will spend just under 6 percent of the money in the “general fund” to repay the debt.
The city has a rule: officials can’t spend more than 12.5 percent of the money in the general fund to pay off debt.
The biggest part of the new proposal is rebuilding the “Westside Campus,” a series of buildings off NW 120 Avenue, some of which are nearly 50 years old, including the city garage and storage building, Coral Springs City Manager Frank Babinec said.
As part of that project, there would also be renovations and upgrades to the fire training and police firing range facilities and surrounding buildings.
On the other side of the city, Coral Springs wants to build a new Fire Station No. 64, just up the road on Ramblewood Drive where the existing station is, Babinec said.
The borrowing would include rebuilding the existing station at 500 Ramblewood Drive into a senior center.
In addition, the project would add and improve nature trails and walking paths at nearby Kiwanis Park at 520 Ramblewood Drive, Babinec said.
These three projects – building a new station, creating a senior facility, and improving the park – would cost $5 million, Babinec said.
Another cost associated with the borrowing, officials said: $500,000 in bond issuance costs.
In discussing the borrowing and the projects on Wednesday, Babinec and other officials said now is a good time to consider this work because the interest rates and construction costs are low.
Officials added that the proposed increases to taxes and fees to pay for the projects could be reduced if staff members find grants.
Commissioners were generally in agreement that the Westside Campus project needed to be done.
But there was concern from some commissioners – including Shawn Cerra and Joshua Simmons – about imposing new expenses on residents at a time of Covid-19.
Simmons said he wants to fund the Westside Campus project at first and potentially consider the fire station, senior center, and park projects at another time.
“We need to take care of what’s most necessary,” Simmons said.
Larry Vignola said all the projects have been discussed for years, and he agreed that now is the right time to complete them.
“The timing is as good as it’s going to get,” he said.
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