Council introduces authorization of general obligation bond issuances


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th). Simmons said that she hopes organizations that support the new Robert Crown center will help raise more money so the city doesn’t have to take on any more of the center’s financial burden.

Emma Edmund, Assistant City Editor

In a Monday City Council meeting, aldermen introduced an ordinance to authorize the 2019 A&B General Obligation Corporate Purpose Bonds.

The bonds fall under two groups, 2019A and 2019B, and will serve to finance the construction and equipment of the new Robert Crown Community Center, Ice Complex and Library Center, as well as city capital improvements, respectively. Each group will include one or more series of General Obligation Corporate Purpose Bonds, not to exceed $18 million.

Some aldermen raised concerns about the bonds allotted to funding the new Robert Crown Community Center, which has sparked residential backlash.

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th), the only alderman present who voted against the introduction of the ordiance, raised concerns about the community center failing to comply with its diversity goals, which she said were not being met in the last report she read.

“This is an opportunity for us to have created significant jobs and to have contracted many minority and local employers,” Rue Simmons said. “This has been billed as an opportunity for community development, economic development, and at this point, I’m not seeing that.”

In 2018, the city issued approximately $25 million in General Obligation bonds for the project. Should the 2019 bonds be authorized, the amount of bonds issued will total $40 million.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) raised concerns in response to Rue Simmons, addressing the city’s potential liability if it was to breach its contract with Bulley and Andrews, LLC. City attorney Michelle Masoncup said that there is a performance schedule built into the contract that the firm must meet to complete the project on time.

“There would be significant ramifications,” Masoncup said. “We have ordered a lot of different equipment and there are sub-contractors to this job.”

Masoncup said breaching the contract would negatively impact many different aspects of the project and would have legal ramifications with more companies than just Bulley and Andrews. While Rue Simmons said she understood that stopping construction on the project doesn’t help anyone, she wants to challenge organizations that care about Robert Crown to raise more funds so the city doesn’t have to take on any more of a financial burden.

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he would rather keep the contract and get involved if the contractors do not make their deadlines.

“Breaching the contract in advance of that would put us in a terrible position,” Wilson said. “I’d hate to imagine the kind of money we’d lose.”

Also included with the bonds for Robert Crown are bonds that would be used to fund capital improvement projects, which include a new library branch, water infrastructure projects and sewer work at Robert Crown.

According to city documents, the funds for the bonds would come from various sources, including money from the Friends of the Robert Crown Center and the tax levy. The bonds used for capital improvement would come from a future tax levy, the Water Fund and the Sewer Fund.

The ordinance introducing the competitive bonds sale is set to be adopted and signed at the April 22 City Council meeting, while the final terms of the bonds will be approved after the bond sale, scheduled to be held on May 16.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the status of the ordinance. Council voted to introduce an ordinance that would authorize 2019 general obligation bond issues

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