WARREN - Only two of the seven parts of the administration's proposal for a $24.5 million bond issue are expected to be voted on this week by city council, Mayor Doug Franklin said.
He said his team retooled the bond issue that would have been used to repave streets, improve city-owned properties and build a one-stop administration building.
What's left is refinancing of a 24-year, $1.4 million fire and police pension bond, and a 10-year, $7.3 million water revenue bond.
Tribune Chronicle / Raymond L. Smith
Bette Daily questions the details in the proposed $24.5 million bond issue during a 3rd Ward meeting held Monday at Christ Episcopal Church.
"With the refinancing, the city will save more than $1 million in interest costs on each of these issues," Franklin said.
The mayor admitted to the approximately 40 people Monday at Christ Episcopal Church during a 3rd Ward meeting that discussion about the proposed $9.5 million one-stop administration building ''sucked the life'' out of the whole bond issue.
When one member of the audience asked others attending the meeting whether they opposed the one-stop, more than 20 raised their hands.
"I knew the majority would be against it," Franklin said.
Even while defending the idea of a one-stop, Franklin said the administration is developing alternative proposals to present to council over the next several weeks.
Franklin repeatedly said the city must do something about 418 Main St., which houses its health, community development and other departments.
"It is our worst building," he said. "It has heating and cooling issues, fly infestations, and buckets have to be placed during heavy rains. We should not have our residents - our employees - going into that building to do city business."
Franklin believes that building a one-stop facility is the right way to go.
Community activist Bette Daily suggested the bond issue is being done outside of any plans of moving the city forward. Daily asked Franklin whether the administration would provide a detailed three- to five-year plan.
In addition, she said there has been no hard data about the city's equipment needs other than what was presented by the bond proposal.
Daily said paying for the combined bond would require all money earned by the city to be used to repay it, so there would not be any money left for any other needed projects.
"There is a backlog of about $6.5 million worth of road repair projects in the city," Daily said. "This would address only $2.5 million in road improvements. What about the other 60 percent?''
Franklin said about $30 million worth of road improvements have been done in the city over the last 12 years, but the majority of the work on main arterial in which the city could get federal funds.
"This will help us catch up on some of the work that it needed," he said. "Council will have to come up with funds for a program to upkeep the roads once we get them repaired."
On the question of the city's future plans, Franklin said his actions have been based on the Poggemeyer study completed done in 2008.
Resident Shirley Brady questioned how many people would work in the one-stop building, if approved.
"Between 80 and 100 people," Franklin responded. "The county is interested in moving some offices in it and we are in discussions with some real estate people."
Franklin emphasized that the city has a responsibility to fix up property it owns, especially when it is asking residents to maintain their properties through property maintenance codes.
Eleanor Fairbanks, a 3rd Ward resident, said the city should first do those things that will attract new residents into the city before building any new buildings.
"We need to make Warren an inviting place to live," Fairbanks said. "Right now, there is no reason for people to move into Warren.''
Linda Metzendorf , a city resident and a former school board member, questioned how the city would pay for these projects if the city goes bankrupt because it loses companies like RG Steel.
"There are many people who are losing their jobs," she said. "We need a tax base."
Both Brown and Councilman Greg Bartholomew suggested they could support the refinancing of the current bonds.