Statesboro’s mayor and council and the Urban Redevelopment Agency they recently created are poised to act Tuesday on a $4.5 million bond issuance and award $2.9 million in contracts for improvements to the Luetta Moore and Grady Street parks.
Both the regular City Council meeting and a meeting of the URA are scheduled for 9 a.m. in the City Hall council chambers. Soon after the council meeting is called to order, the mayor and council will recess for the URA meeting before returning to council business, said City Clerk Leah Harden.
The URA board consists of Mayor Jonathan McCollar as its chair, all five City Council members and five other citizens: Victor Dickey, Mary Foreman, Maurice Hill, Elizabeth Johnson and Ronald Love.
Both parks are in District 2, represented by Councilwoman Paulette Chavers, who is the mayor pro tem and now vice chair of the URA.
“These parks have needed to be renovated well over 20 years, and I’m just elated that we are able to get the ball rolling,” Chavers said Friday. “Having that social infrastructure there is just going to create a different atmosphere for the community and bring a little more unity in the community.”
A teaching pool and splash pad with a bath house will be central to the renovated Luetta Moore Park on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, but planned features also include family pavilions with grills, a volleyball court and a new playground. Covered basketball courts are planned as a centerpiece of the Rev. W.D. Kent Park on Grady Street, but it will also get a picnic pavilions, a walking trail and renovated restrooms.
Chavers said the goal is to provide “adequate parks where families can go and actually feel safe and not have to worry about where they’re going to park, because they’re going to have adequate parking, … walking trails, … a place to play basketball, working water fountains” and the aquatic features without having to go across town to Mill Creek Park.
URA bond issue
On Tuesday, the URA board’s one scheduled action is to approve a “supplemental bond resolution” issuing a single, $4.5 million, 10-year-bond to Truist Bank at a 1.47% annual interest rate. In other words, the city, through the URA, is borrowing that amount from the bank, and gets a reduced interest rate by issuing a tax revenue-backed bond.
City Manager Charles W. Penny said this is one of the lowest interest rates on debt he has seen.
“It almost doesn’t make sense not to borrow money if you’ve got projects you need to do, at that kind of interest rate,” he said.
A summary from Davenport & Company, the city’s financial advisor, shows that Truist Bank, based in North Carolina, requested the lowest rate of the 10 banks that submitted proposals. The other proposals carried interest ranging from 1.51% to 2.4% and included several from banks with Statesboro locations.
At its previous meeting, City Council unanimously authorized the URA to issue the bonds. Now the council is slated to act on spending a large portion of the money.
Council members have received a staff recommendation to award the main construction contract for the park improvements to John E. Lavender & Associates, a Statesboro-based firm, on its bid of $2,877,954.
Another local company, Dabbs-Williams General Contractors, submitted the only other bid. But it was disqualified for not including Minority and Female Business Enterprise affidavits required in the bid request, Assistant City Manager Jason Boyles stated in the bid recommendation memo.
Lavender & Associates submitted the required documents, indicating 26.5% participation in the project by minority- and female-controlled subcontractors.
But Lavender had the lower bid anyway, since Dabbs-Williams bid $2,987,175, Penny said Friday.
Beyond Lavender’s contract price, the city is building a 20% contingency, or about $600,000, into the budget for completing the project.
The council also has a recommendation to approve a new contract not to exceed $33,560 to Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, which designed the park renovations, for administering the construction.
All of these elements, including the contingency, add up to about $3.5 million. But a request for bids for playground equipment is still out, and other work will probably be needed, Penny said.
Among other things, the city staff is working with a local provider to bring internet service to these parks, which he said have none now.
“That’s critical,” Penny said. “When we’ve tried to have meetings over the Jones-Love Building (at Luetta Moore Park), you can’t do it without internet, and if you’re going to have activities in the park, you’ve got to have that.”
Issuing the bond also has estimated costs of $80,000. If any money is left over from the net bond proceeds, the city will use it in repaying the debt, Penny said.
Two weeks ago, the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners and Statesboro City Council approved a formal agreement committing $1 million from the county’s share of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to these projects. County officials previously promised this amount to improve parks operated by the county-funded Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department in Statesboro neighborhoods.
Another $1.1 million over five years is earmarked from the city’s own share of SPLOST. But the city will need more years of SPLOST funding, beyond the current voter-authorized range, or will have to spend other revenue to pay off the bond.
Also Tuesday, the council in slated for a second reading and possible final vote to adopt the International Property Maintenance Code as a city ordinance. This includes some local specifications, such as a 12-inch maximum height on grass and weeds, where 18 inches had once been discussed, and an Oct. 1 to May 1 period when all rental residential properties must have adequate heat.