Measure S does it again |

Measure S does it again

Robert Stern

The Measure S board is gearing up to seal bond agreements that will pay for recreational projects approved in the Sept. 19 election.

Board members have decided to cap the bond at $6 million, even though the measure would allow for up to a $6.5 million bond.

“I feel that we can do what we want to accomplish with $6 million,” said board member Hal Cole.

The targeted construction cost for the 37,000-square-foot ice rink, ball fields, improvements to Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District and maintenance money for bicycle trails is $5.3 million.

The exact amount of construction funds available is still to be determined. But a likely scenario according to Mark Northcross, a financial consultant for the project, is between $535,000 and $830,000 will be available above original estimated costs.

There are two hurdles to jump before figures can be finalized.

The latest cost estimates for Measure S projects are between $360,000 and $560,00 above original estimates. But until bids go out for each project definitive numbers won’t be known.

Estimates for the ball fields alone have come in about $200,000 to $400,000 over the original $1.3 million, but include lights that were not originally included, and a turn lane on Al Tahoe Boulevard. Also it includes a traffic study and potential widening of the proposed utility district access road, which consultant John Upton does not anticipate will be necessary. There is also a hope by the parks and recreation department that one of the four ball fields will be artificial turf. Parks and recreation Superintendent Steve Weiss is working on getting additional funding to help make up for the additional cost.

Northcross is negotiating with various insurance companies. Since the bond is rated at AAA, the highest possible rating, he is hoping the board will have to put up less insurance money than was initially budgeted, which in itself could create a surplus of as much as $400,000.

Chances of this scenario are better than ever because of a combination of low interest rates and because of an impending recession, Cole said. As a result, investors are looking for more secure investments, and the bond payments will be funded by property taxes, which are considered to be extremely reliable.

The board will meet in City Council Chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd. on Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. in a public meeting to determine which insurance company to sign on with.

Between February 14-21 the board will sell the bonds.

If figures work out as planned, the board could lower the $18 property tax after all projects are constructed. Additional money could also be used to reduce the principle, or go into a debt service reserve fund.

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