Feb. 12--SPRING HILL -- The best method of financing and constructing a highly anticipated, multi-million dollar park project has created debate among city officials.
At an estimated cost of $4.5 million, construction of the planned Port Royal Park will soon be bid out by the city of Spring Hill. Members of the city's Budget and Finance Advisory Committee discussed Tuesday whether it would be best if the city borrowed all of the funds needed up front or if it would be best to borrow the money in phases.
The park was originally budgeted at $2.5 million, but plans for multiple football fields, basketball courts, playgrounds and a splash pad -- an aquatic playspace -- nearly doubled the price tag of the 30-acre park. City officials have debated removing more expensive parts of the project -- such as the splash pad -- though members of the parks and recreation commission approved a plan calling for construction of all the big ticket items suggested for the facility.
Alderman Keith Hudson approached the budget committee asking if it would be feasible to finance the entire park project in the 2014-15 fiscal-year budget. He suggested it would be more cost-effective to finance and construct the park in one phase rather than financing and constructing the park over several years.
Committee chairwoman and Alderman Amy Wurth said the city does not have enough information on expected revenues to determine if they could finance the park all at once.
"One of the items we have look at before we do any financing of the park is look at how we are coming in on this year's budget and then look at the projections for next year's budget," Wurth said. "We won't know that until the end of March or April."
She added the Board of Mayor and Alderman hasn't decided what features the park should have, which may also affect the total cost of the park as well as how the park needs to be constructed.
Vice-Mayor Bruce Hull said more information is needed to determine the best way of funding the park.
"If we get this data and have the cash flow to support it, I have no problem funding this as soon as possible," he said. "We need a good sense we can cash flow anything we bond out.
City Administrator Victory Lay said as soon as bids on the park are received the city will have a list of the estimated cost of each part of the park. He said this itemized list may help city leaders determine what items they want included in the park and what they want to start constructing.
With bids expected in about two weeks, Lay also suggested having a special call meeting once bids were in to help further determine the path the city wants to take with the park.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Kevin Fischer said the park is going to be constructed in phases regardless of how it is financed. He said it could take between one year and 18 months to construct the entire park.
"Certain aspects of the construction obviously need to come first," he said. "There are certain times grass has to be done, and those type of pieces can be written into the way it's bid to have those done first and open that aspect of the park."
In other business, the board unanimously approved:
? a $27,803 bid to purchase a truck for the MS4 department;
? a $29,087 bid to purchase a truck for the streets departmet;
? the auction of a city wood chipper estimated at between $8,000 and $14,000;
? a $33,782 bid to purchase a new vehicle and ancillary equipment for the police department;
? financing $12,000 to replace the warranty for video equipmnt in city police cruisers;
? a $12,846 bid for repairs to Fire Station No. 1 and Fire Station No. 3; and
? a $14,000 bid to replace two light poles at Evans Park with concrete poles. Fischer said the city's insurance will reimburse the city with a $7,000 check for one of the poles.
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