Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown has proposed a $15 million bond issue to fund various infrastructure projects and park improvements citywide.
The plan, presented to the Gallatin City Council on Tuesday, would include $7.4 million in overall road and sidewalk spending along with $3.6 million for parks and $1.5 million for a downtown parking garage.
“Now is a good time for us to go ahead and get the funding that we need for some of these road projects and other things that we need to happen within the city,” Brown told the Gallatin News citing currently low interest rates and the city’s favorable credit rating. “We’ve gotten a lot done in recent years and this will set us up to get a lot done in the coming years.”
While most of the road and sidewalk money would not be designated for specific projects in order to allow for more flexibility with the funding, a total of $1 million would be dedicated to widening Smith Street to support construction of the county’s new courthouse downtown, according to the proposal.
Specific park projects include $2.2 million for the purchase of nearly 70 acres last year along with $500,000 for improvements to Nat Caldwell Park and $500,000 for irrigation at the Long Hollow Golf Course.
Additional funding in the bond would include $900,000 for renovations to city hall, $800,000 for a Town Creek flood reduction project with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, $700,000 towards a planned police and fire department training facility in the city’s industrial park and $100,000 for a project manager for the bond projects.
While the proposal would not be enough to fully pay for every infrastructure project the city has planned, Brown said it would get many of them “moving along faster.”
“These are all projects that are important to the city and it is my hope that we will in time seem all of them happen,” Brown added. “Some projects by their very nature are going to take years to go through the process for planning and approval. Others could be executed on a much shorter timeline.”
If approved, the bond would bring Gallatin’s overall debt total to $42.6 million. The amount is $35.2 million less than the maximum amount of outstanding debt allowed by the city.
The additional debt would not require a tax increase, Brown said.
As a result of unexpectedly low interest rates, At-Large Councilman Steve Fann suggested Tuesday that city leaders might consider borrowing more money in order to get additional projects completed.
“Money is as cheap as it has been in years,” Fann said Tuesday. “It might be a good time… to go in debt maybe a little more for certain projects instead of putting them off.”
The Gallatin City Council is scheduled to discuss the bond during its next committee meeting on Oct. 13.