Council OKs borrowing to fund projects

A city police records management system, Reach Road repaving and reconstruction and completion of the River Valley Transit natural gas fueling facility are projects to be paid for after passage of an ordinance Thursday by City Council.

The ordinance amends a prior ordinance that authorized and secured a general obligation note of Aug. 5, 2010, in the maximum principal amount of $3 million.

The records management system for police costs $360,000, according to Chief Gregory A. Foresman. It will allow police to keep track of activities, logging them into a computer and giving patrol and officers at City Hall instant access to information, helping in “real time” and “investigations,” he said. He said it will bring the department up to speed and provide necessary technology that can be shared among police and other departments.

The council struck wording out of the ordinance regarding financing the repaving and reconstruction of 25 city streets, slated for work this fall. Money for that, which is about a $1 million investment, will come from natural gas impact fees that have been secured by the city, according to Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.

“For the benefit of the public, we do not intend to fund less in streets, but to do it using this year and last year’s Act 13 or natural gas impact fee money,” explained Councilman Jonathan Williamson, chairman of the city Finance Committee.

Williamson said he considered Reach Road to be a capital investment. He said borrowing, specifically for one-time expenditures such as it, made sense because the benefits extend far beyond the life of the loan.

Williamson explained the process as someone taking out a bank loan to pay for painting their roof, which may last 30 years, as opposed to someone borrowing to pay for groceries.

Street repaving projects could begin as soon as September.

The compressed natural gas fueling facility at 1500 W. Third St. is expected to be ready this fall. River Valley Transit received grant money from the state Department of Environmental Protection and Federal Highway Transit Administration for the project, according to William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director and general manager of the bus service.