Council tentatively OKs proposed $120 million bond issue to pay for projects, including road repairs

Includes fire station, library construction

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council tentatively approved a proposed $120 million bond issue to pay for infrastructure projects, including road repairs, and fire station and library construction.

The bond is part of a multi-year plan that includes cash funding and three previous bonds to offset the city's backlog of infrastructure projects, which officials with the Independent Budget Analyst's Office said could be as high as $2 billion.

"We will rebuild San Diego. We're not there yet, we're still behind, but we're making good on our promise to the public and they are responding," said Councilman Mark Kersey, chair of the Infrastructure Committee.

The city plans to split the $120 million into two bond issues. About $65 million would be raised through a bond issue in April, and $54 million would be raised in April 2015, according to the Independent Budget Analyst's Office.

Another City Council vote is required in two weeks.

The list of projects includes about $43 million for repairs to city streets, $21 million for storm drain upgrades, $4.7 million to bring city buildings in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act and $1 million for sidewalk improvements.

If the bond issue is ultimately approved, about $27 million would go to improvements at fire stations and lifeguard buildings. That would include the Skyline Fire Station, design and land acquisition for the Home Avenue Fire Station and replacing fire stations in Point Loma and Hillcrest.

Also included are designs for libraries in the Skyline, San Ysidro and San Carlos neighborhoods.

"San Diegans deserve neighborhoods with smooth roads, sound facilities, and water and sewer pipes that don't break. This bond will help us achieve that goal," Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said. "Investing in our public assets with bond funds is fiscally responsible and community focused." 

Lease revenue bonds create a lease between the city and a public facilities financing authority for a nominal amount. The authority leases the property back to the city at an amount equal to the debt service on the bond.

However, there are limits to the properties the city can lease, according to an Independent Budget Analyst report.

"This type of funding is appropriate at this time while construction costs and interest rates are still competitive," Kersey said. "However, lease-revenue financing can't be the only option for funding infrastructure and won't be sufficient to take care of all of our priorities."

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