Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Venice Mayor Says Time Is Right to Take out Bonds

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Venice Mayor Says Time Is Right to Take out Bonds

Article excerpt


For now, interest rates are low and the city of Venice's bond rating is strong.

So, if Venice voters want their city to move ahead with construction and maintenance projects it deferred because of funding shortfalls, Mayor John Holic thinks this may be an opportune time to ask them whether they will support a multi-million dollar bond issue to pay for the work.

Holic, who retired as a financial adviser after 18 years with A.G. Edwards, says interest rates on municipal bonds are "very, very low, less than 4 percent."

Last fall, Fitch Ratings renewed the city's AA+ bond rating. The best rating granted by Fitch is AAA.

The city owes about $7 million on a 2004 voter-approved bond issue of $10 million for beach renourishment and other projects, the city's first general obligation bond in more than 30 years. That debt is to be paid off by February 2028.

The utility system has $20 million in bonded debt to be paid off during the next 20 years with water and sewer revenue, not property taxes.

A referendum could address all or some of several potential projects discussed lately by the City Council: a downtown parking garage, new athletic fields, relocation of the water treatment plant out of a flood zone and putting police and firefighters in storm- resistent buildings.

The bonds would be paid off with property taxes or, in the case of utilities projects, water and sewer revenue.

The Herald-Tribune asked members of the City Council the following:

Do you agree with Mayor Holic's suggestion that, while interest rates remain low and the city's bond rating high, now may be the time to prepare a bond referendum for the voters that could pay for several unmet needs? If so, what are the projects you think the voters should consider?

Bob Daniels

"Yes, I do agree. We have a lot of roads in Venice that need to be repaved. You look at the fuel taxes we get. …

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