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Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Celina looking for funding to finish walkway

By William Kincaid
The city of Celina may consolidate three tax increment finance (TIF) districts to pay for the remaining phase of the walkway along West Bank Road and a water line project.
Revenue generated from the city's Grand Lake TIF, which includes the West Bank and downtown area, will not be enough to finish the walkway, Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan told city council members on Monday night.
Bryan suggested consolidating the Grand Lake TIF with the state Route 703 TIF and the Market Street TIF.
The first phase of the walkway - completed this summer - was financed through a $1.3 million loan secured on the open market and a $250,000 state grant. The Celina Rotary Club has made a $150,000 pledge over 10 years as well to help with the walkway.
The city pays $110,000 each year for the interest and principal of the $1.3 million loan, of which the city still owes $1.2 million.
Bryan said city administration was hoping to borrow an additional $1.4 million in February for the second phase when it renewed the $1.2 million note.
"There's no way that's going to happen," Bryan said, pointing out the city will not pursue funding until the financial markets settle down and the three TIF districts are consolidated.
The second phase is 2,000 feet of concrete walkway in the center of West Bank Road, which would complete the path from the lighthouse to West Bank park.
The city also wants to upgrade the current 4-inch water line that runs along Market Street to a 12-inch line. The city would have to borrow another $600,000 for the waterline, which, among other things, would provide additional fire protection to buildings in the area.
To proceed with the second phase and water line projects, the city would need to borrow $2 million on top of its current $1.2 million loan, putting the city $3.2 million in debt.
At that rate - with 4.2 percent interest - the city would pay $246,000 a year over a 20-year period.
"In theory, it should work," Bryan said.
But to insure the city has enough money to pay the annual principal and interest, Bryan suggested consolidating the three TIFs.
The city is slated to bring in a total of $319,624 in revenue from the Grand Lake, Market Street and state Route 703 TIFs by the end of this year for taxes collected in 2007, according to the city's calculations.
The Grand Lake TIF is expected to generate $163,946 in city revenue and $54,649 in Celina school revenue; the Market Street TIF is expected to generate $40,025 in city revenue and $13,342 in school revenue; and the state Route 703 TIF is expected to generate $115,653 in city revenue and $38,551 in school revenue.
"The (Grand Lake TIF) is a substantial number, even more than we were projecting," Bryan said. "Those three (TIFs) would total $319,624."
Councilman June Scott wondered if the city was counting chickens before they hatched. The city has been conservative with its TIF structure, accumulating cash before borrowing money, Bryan responded.
"This is pure mathematics of what we think it should be," he said about expected TIF revenue.
Scott said he has been an advocate of the boardwalk as long as no money was taken from the general fund. However, he said the water line project is more important than completing the boardwalk.
Bryan suggested completing both projects at the same time.
"Simultaneous is fine," Scott said.
"We have been very lucky we have not had a major fire in that area," councilman Rick Bachelor said, stressing the importance of the water line project.
"Why not consolidate (the TIFs)?" councilman Bill Sell asked.
"There's no reason from our point of view not to," Bryan replied.
Council took no action.

Construction plans:  Building a breakwater structure in Grand Lake to protect Celina's West Bank Rotary Walkway from wave and ice damage should begin this winter.
But it may not be completed for several years, based on donated concrete.
Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan on Monday said the structure was estimated to cost the city $3.5 million. But through creative and efficient planning, the city will pay only $150,000, he said.
City officials will use concrete from the recently demolished Mersman Furniture Co. to begin building the structure this winter. Local contractors said they would donate concrete to the project in the future, Bryan said, adding they estimated it could be completed in two to three years.
The first phase of the West Bank Rotary Walkway - a total of 2,000 feet of concrete in the northern and southern portions of the path - was completed this summer.
As of Sept. 30, the city has $575,000 remaining in the phase one fund.
Bryan said the city plans on using the remaining money for the following projects:
• Construction of the breakwater structure, $150,000.
• Construction of restrooms and a shelter near the former Blue Goose and bike path, $150,000.
• Construction of Lake Shore Drive boat docks, including a seawall and concrete decking, new curbing and pavement, $125,000.
• Wetlands mitigation of 4 1/2 acres at Fleetfoot Road, $100,000.
• Removal of existing fishing piers, $25,000.
• Leveling existing rock and adding stone along uncompleted sections of West Bank Road, $25,000.
- William Kincaid
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