WARREN - City officials will have to explain today why council should approve selling at least $9.5 million worth of bonds for street and roadway improvements, building upgrades and the purchase of a new building to replace 418 S. Main St.
Most council members say they are expecting the city to provide detailed explanations on how the money will be used in each of the projects, especially how the roads portion will be designed so it provides a long-term solution to deteriorating roads.
Mayor Doug Franklin and Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa have attempted to sell council on the idea of using bonds to do these projects in 2011 and 2012.
They convinced council members to support bonds to replace existing water debts, police and fire department retirements and the purchase of a fire truck, but not yet on the roadwork or for a new building.
"We are looking for a yearly plan for the street improvement bond," Councilman Vince Flask, D-5th Ward, said. "We do not want a one-time infusion of money that we still will be paying for over the next 20 years and not have a way to maintain the roads after they are repaired."
Flask said he wants to hear specific plans about which roads are to be improved and the time frame for the repairs.
Councilman Eddie Colbert, D-7th Ward, said that paying for the roads with a 27-year bond is not the most optimal way to pay for road improvements.
"If we do this, it should be used as a bridge, not as a bandage," Colbert said. "Let's not make this the way to do business."
Councilwoman Helen Rucker expressed particular concern about the $3 million bond for the purchase of a building in which members of the city's community development, income tax, and health departments can be moved into.
In addition, the city will want to find out if its tenants, Warren Business Exchange, Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corp. and Sunshine of Warren Trumbull Inc. will want to move from the building.
The city has long discussed moving from the building and then either selling it or having it demolished.
The $3 million in the bond proposal does not include the demolition costs of 418 S. Main. Franklin said the city would attempt to sell the building.
"I'm concerned about increasing the city's long-term debt," Rucker added. "The city now is recovering financially. If possible, I would like to develop a financial cushion. I don't want long-term debt."
Finance Chairman Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd Ward, emphasized that discussions about the bond will go through three reading, so members of council and the public will have opportunities to express their concerns.
"We're going to decide exactly what can be done, and how much it can be done for," Novak said.