Wicomico Introduces $51M Bond Bill

SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County this week voted to introduce a $51 million bond bill.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council agreed to introduce a legislative bill that will allow the county to borrow more than $51 million for eight capital projects.

“This is generally called a parameters bill to permit borrowing,” council attorney Andy Mitchell said. “It authorizes the county to borrow on the full faith and credit of the county a sum not to exceed $51,097,427 …”

More than $19 million in bond bill money will be used to fund the construction of a new public safety building, while $10 million will be set aside for a renovation and addition project at Mardela Middle and High School.

The bond bill also includes $5.4 million for an applied technology building at Wor-Wic Community College, $4.7 million for the replacement of Beaver Run Elementary School, $3.5 million for a new landfill cell and $3 million for the airport technology park, to name a few.

Councilman Joe Holloway noted the council recently increased landfill fees to support the construction of a new cell. He questioned why the county would need to bond money for the project.

“We’re going to use fund balance to pay half the cost of the cell construction,” said Finance Director Pam Oland. “The other half is going to be paid by debt because we don’t have enough fund balance to be able to do the whole thing out of the savings account. Thus, the increased fees will help pay the debt service we are going to have to do to pay the second half of the construction.”

While he said he supported the proposed projects, Holloway highlighted the large funding total.

“All these items on here are needed, no doubt,” he said. “However, it should be known this is probably the largest bonding we’ve ever done.”

Oland noted the county wanted to take advantage of the favorable economic climate.

“Things are still looking remarkably good,” she said. “That’s part of the reason to move now. There is a long process to be able to do this, and we’ll be coming back to council for the second reading of this. But we have to wait the 60 days for this to pass to then allow us to solicit bids. We’ll close on this, and council will probably get a resolution on those costs in December.”

Oland added that the council had been informed that this year’s bond bill would be larger than in years past.

“We let the council know back in the fall last year this was going to be a big number,” she said. “We showed it to you during the CIP process, and we showed it during the budget as well. We are well aware this is a large number.”

After further discussion, the council voted 7-0 to introduce the bond bill legislation.

“As we look at starting to give tax abatements to developers, we should look at what we’re having to borrow to keep the county going,” Holloway added.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.