Friday, August 14–Berlin To Borrow $1.7M To Repair Three Bad Roads

BERLIN – The Berlin Mayor and Council introduced an ordinance Monday night to sell a $1.7 million bond to repair and improve three roads, although one elected official expressed concern over the amount of the bond to be issued.

The funding is meant to refurbish and improve Harrison Avenue and Grice and Vine streets.

The council will hold a public hearing on the bond issuance at its Aug. 24 meeting before approving the ordinance.

The town plans to begin construction on the road improvements in September.

Councilwoman Paula Lynch was concerned over the amount of the bond.

“A million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams.

Berlin’s reserve fund keeps growing, he said, not diminishing.

“You don’t have the money if you’re borrowing the money,” said Lynch.

The town has the money to pay its debt service, Williams said, with the reserves rolled over every year.

Williams said he is pleased at the levels in the reserve fund.

“If we’re going to collect the money from the people, we have an obligation to reinvest it,” he said.

There is another reason to proceed now as well, the mayor said.

“This is the best time to invest in infrastructure for 20 years,” Williams declared.

Vine Street has waited 60 years for improvements, according to Williams, who acknowledged that “it’s never a wonderful time to borrow money.”

However, he said, the current market allows for an opportune time to borrow the money and do the long-delayed work.

“We really can’t justify not doing this work given that the town is in a very secure, responsible position,” said Williams. “Other towns are having a crisis. We’re not having a crisis.”

Soon the town will have a long-term capital improvement plan, which will put those repairs and upgrades essentially on a schedule.

Councilman Troy Purnell pointed out that over the next two years, some past bond debt will be retired, so the new debt will not be adding greatly to the town’s debt burden.

“I don’t see it as a problem, the cash flow,” said Finance Director Jo-Ellen Mason-Foley.

Williams said these infrastructure improvements have been necessary for years, and it’s a good thing to get on with the projects.

“We’re not going out on a limb. We’re going something that should have been done for a long time,” said Williams.