City getting ducks in a row after bond issues pass

City getting ducks in a row after bond issues pass

Marion taking ‘ cautious’ approach to spending, says mayor

Marion likely won’t see any of the $16 million from the reissued bonds until June or July, but residents will see several streets get resurfaced and work on a new sewer line and ballfield improvements begin this year once the money comes in.

Voters in Marion by a nearly 4-to-1 margin authorized the city to refinance some old bonds for another 30 years in order to pay for a new round of capital improvements, including a railroad overpass.

The city will receive $12.185 million for street improvements — the bulk of which will be for the overpass; $2.285 million for the Fire Department; $1.075 for park improvements; $815,000 for water projects; $635,000 for the Police Department; $360,000 for sewer improvements; and $220,000 for the library.

Mayor Frank Fogleman said they have a conference call scheduled with their bond lawyers to hash out the details, but it will be at least 30 days before they can start selling the bonds.

“It’s in the lawyer’s hands now,” Fogleman said. “We have to dot all our i’s and cross our t’s and get the paperwork done first. We will do all those things and then they have some legal steps to follow.”

Fogleman said he isn’t certain yet whether the city will ask for all of the money at one time, or spread it out over several issues.

The bypass is at least 18 months to two years off before construction will likely begin. The city also will have to wait on Arkansas Highway Department’s plans for Military Road to see whether they will lose the annex building where the Chamber of Commerce and Water Department are housed and what the road will look like.

The state is planning to widen Military Road to four lanes and the city may add additional improvements as part of its downtown revitalization plan.

“We can ask the bond sellers to set it up so we can spread it out over two or three issues,” Fogleman said. “We may need to match the timing. We’re going to have to get a design and a cost for the overpass first. I have to be cautious to save money to make sure the overpass gets built. We may be two years away from the overpass. So 18 months out we may need to sell a bond to cover that. And I can’t get started on the Military Road project because the Highway Department is in the driver’s seat there.”

The overpass, which will be built next to the Walmart Neighborhood Grocery and go over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks and connect to Military Road, is expected to cost about $10.5 million.

The federal government has already earmarked $5 million for the project.

Fogleman said the city may, however, ask for $4 to $5 million now to get started on some of the other projects like street overlays, building the addition to the Woolfolk Library, buying some additional breathing apparatus for the fire department, and a new forced mane to the city’s sewer pond.

“I am reluctant to leap out and do a lot of street over- lays now because of the overpass. But we will do some,” Fogleman said.

“And we can get busy with the design and advertise and take bids for the sewer project. So they will see activity on the sewer part and the parks part and maybe

some overlay.”

By Mark Randall