$6M bond finalized

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mayor Earl Johnson will execute the final documents for a $6 million bond issue today, as authorized by the city council Tuesday night.

Earlier this year, the council agreed to pursue funding for several long-term projects, chief among them the revitalization of River Falls Street.

Johnson said Tuesday night the street’s revitalization is the project where money will first be spent when the city receives the proceeds of the issue in a few weeks.

“Right now, we’re waiting on the Department of Transportation,” Johnson said.

The city plans to let bids for the River Falls Street project later this fall, and hopes to begin work in January.

“Once we see where that project comes in, we’ll know what money we have to spend elsewhere,” he said.

Likely, the second priority will be the Church Street School, he said.

“Of course, we’re waiting on our partners to make sure they have funding in place, too,” he said.

In April, the Andalusia City Council voted to work with the Andalusia Ballet to develop what will become the Church Street Cultural Arts Center, to be located in the old Church Street School. The city agreed that the Ballet would occupy about a third of the building — the ground or middle floor — and have a 20-year lease. The Ballet has committed to raise $500,000 for the renovation of the building.

Improvements at Johnson Park also are high on the priority list, the mayor said.

The city worked with Merchant Capital to secure the bond issue. Ken Funderburk, who put the deal together, told the council Tuesday that the note is amortized for 25 years and that payments are “wrapped” around existing debt. The city will begin repaying the principal on this note in 2021. The city’s interest rate is 4.55 percent.

Funderburk called the project “a wonderful success story.”

“It’s rare to see an issue flow quite so smoothly,” he said. “It was like we were hitting on all cylinders.”

He had high praise for Johnson and for city clerk John Thompson for their work on the project.

“The work these gentlemen did was fantastic,” he said.

Bond attorney Fred Simpler presented the final ordinance approved by the council. The Andalusia native said it was a privilege for him to represent the city in this project.

“I went to school in this building,” he said of city hall, formerly East Three Notch Elementary. “I don’t think I’ve been in it since elementary school graduation.”

Simpler praised the city for the work it plans to do.

“River Falls Street has a lot of historical significance,” Simpler said. “I think this is a tremendous step for economic development activity.”