Tempe considers $30M bond for public safety, new dam - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Tempe considers $30M bond for public safety, new dam

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Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:30 am

Tempe is considering a nearly $30 million bond election this November to fund public safety, fix aging city buildings — and possibly to help replace the rubber dam at Town Lake.

The $29.8 million bond proposal is a fraction of the previous three packages that voters approved in the last decade, including a $241.3 million program in 2008. The city is considering a modest bond package because of the slow economy, said Ken Jones, Tempe’s finance and technology director. The bonds won’t fund any new projects, he said.

“It’s living within our means,” Jones said. “We have scaled back our projects to the bare minimum so we are only maintaining and replacing what we have,” he said.

If voters approve the bonds, property taxes will remain about the same, Jones said.

The package includes $6.4 million for public safety, which would buy new radios and laptops for firefighters and police. About $12.9 million would replace roofs, air conditioning and other aging features of city buildings.

Tempe is considering a $10.5 million bond for parks — which could pay for some of the $37.5 million project to replace the rubber dam with hydraulically operated steel hinged gates. The city has funding for about two-thirds of the new dam and considers the $10.5 million bond a backup funding source should its preferred effort fall through.

Tempe’s goal is to raise the $10.5 million by leasing or selling 109 acres of land west of Town Lake. Tempe’s City Council will decide on Thursday whether it wants to enter into negotiations on that property with Liberty Property Trust. Tempe doesn’t know yet how much money could result from that, Jones said.

Should that transaction occur, Tempe will use that money for the dam and use the $10.5 million parks bond on parks across the city.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the bond Thursday, along with property tax rates.

The bonds are funded through secondary property taxes, which Tempe said will remain the same if voters approve the bonds.

The city plans to increase the property tax but it estimates the typical homeowner will pay the same bill when decreasing home values are factored into the equation. The city plans to increase the rate of $1.79 per $100 of assessed valuation, which results in a bill of $267.05 for the median single-family home of $149,500. The proposed new rate of $2.14 will result in a tax bill of $2.66.60 next year. Actual bills will vary slightly, depending on the value of each home.

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