Arlington council to review $20 million bond sale

Posted Monday, Mar. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- The city plans to sell $20 million in bonds this summer to pay for projects that include a new east Arlington fire station, road and sidewalk improvements and youth baseball fields at the Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Complex.

Those fire, park and public works projects are part of this year's proposed $54.6 million capital budget, which also includes significant water and wastewater system work throughout the city.

The Arlington City Council is set to begin reviewing the list of planned infrastructure improvements at its meeting today.

Though Arlington has millions of dollars in infrastructures needs, District 4 Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon said the city is being fiscally responsible by keeping its debt ratio low. That helps keep the city's bond ratings high, which means Arlington can get lower interest rates when borrowing money, she said.

"If you have a good bond rating, you get a better deal. That saves us money," Wilemon said. "So far we are doing extremely well, and we want to continue to do that by managing that ratio and keep our bond rating high. It's good for the taxpayers."

Arlington dedicates about 32 percent, or $36.6 million, of its $113.3 million in property tax revenue to paying off debt. The city's total annual debt service is about $41.1 million, with $4.6 million coming from other revenue sources outside property taxes, such as the Arlington Convention Center.

The proposed capital budget would put the tax-supported debt per capita at $842, below the self-imposed cap of $1,060 per capita, according to a staff report given to the council. Issuing more debt would also mean less property tax revenue would be available for the city's operating expenses, Budget Manager Mike Finley said.

From the $20 million in bonds sold this summer, the largest portion would go toward improving mobility and drainage. The city's Public Works Department would receive about $12.9 million for road and intersection rebuilds and improvements, sidewalk repair or replacement and irrigation.

Another $560,000 would go toward repair or replacing traffic signals and street lights, and $7.8 million would be dedicated to projects that address flooding caused by storm-water runoff.

This year's capital budget also includes $26.8 million for Water Utility Department projects to enhance the city's water, wastewater and reclaimed water system. Arlington will sell $9 million in bonds, which will be repaid by utility fees, this summer to fund a portion of those improvements.

As of October 2012, Arlington had $320.7 million in outstanding bond debt, not counting the Cowboys Stadium debt, according to the city website. The city still owed $248.2 million on the football venue as last October.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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