Wicomico Approves $23M Bond Bill

SALISBURY – County officials this week voted to approve a $23 million bond bill for future capital projects.

On Wednesday, the Wicomico County Council voted unanimously to approve a legislative bill allowing the county to borrow $23,378,386 for the financing of nine capital projects.

Finance Director Pam Oland told council members this week the county is in the process of starting its bond issuance for fiscal year 2023 and that the projects included were also approved in both the capital budget and capital improvement plan.

“This legislation gives us the authority to borrow up to the amount listed,” she explained. If we get to the bond date and find there are other funding sources available to us, we can borrow less than that amount.”

Council President John Cannon questioned the county’s borrowing as interest rates increase.

“How comfortable are we with borrowing with interest rates escalating?” he said.

Oland said the county had accounted for higher interest rates in the bond issuance.

“We anticipated interest rates would go up, so we created our budget with higher interest rates,” she replied.

When asked if the county had considered refinancing prior bond debt, Oland said it was being considered.

“We are looking into that,” she said.

The 2022 bond bill includes $2.6 million for projects at the Old Courthouse in Salisbury – $350,000 for window replacements, $500,000 for exterior masonry repairs and $1.75 million for electrical system upgrades – as well as $1,033,386 for a new Applied Technology Building at Wor-Wic Community College.

The bond bill also includes $1.2 million for the Coulbourn Mill Pond dam project, $10.1 million for a renovation and addition at Mardela Middle and High School and $250,000 in bond contingency.

The bill also features $8.1 million in bonded airport projects, including $5.98 million for a runway extension project, $1.5 million for a car rental car wash and $715,000 for a natural gas line extension.

With no further discussions, the council this week voted unanimously to approve the bond bill.

This week’s approval of the 2022 bond bill follows the issuance of a $51 million bond bill in 2021, which financed the replacement of Beaver Run Elementary School and the construction of a new public safety buildings.

As the county did not go to the bond market in 2020 – the result of conflicts between the legislative and executive branches of government and disagreements over certifying department heads – officials noted the 2021 bond bill was larger than most, but that the county wanted to take advantage of a favorable economic climate.

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.