After breaking ground for the construction of its new township hall last week, the Liberty Township Board of Trustees is moving forward with planning for a new fire station and road maintenance facility. During Tuesday’s meeting, the trustees approved two separate resolutions authorizing the township to request the assistance of the Delaware County Finance Authority (DCFA) by issuing the DFCA’s special obligation revenue bonds.
According to the resolutions, the bonds will “finance the costs of the acquisition, construction, renovation, improvement, and equipping of buildings and real property located in the township.”
Last July, the DCFA announced the innovative bonds program to assist local governments in paying for capital improvement projects. The strategic investment plan puts inactive county funds into a bond program to be used by governments at rates significantly lower than they would be in the public market. Liberty Township, with three projects on the horizon, is the first government to participate in the program.
“The program provides the ability for the treasurer to purchase your capital building project bonds and provide financing through year 10 of a project with a collaboration with the DCFA and your municipal bond advisor offering years 11-20 to the public markets,” Delaware County Treasurer Don Rankey told the trustees during the meeting announcing the program last year.
Liberty Township Fiscal Officer Rick Karr told The Gazette the bonds for the road maintenance facility were for a total of $2,375,000, while the bonds for Fire Station 321 totaled $6,370,000. However, Karr said that, at this time, both construction projects are targeted to be completed at or below the total bond amounts.
Following the 10-year bond purchasing by the county, Karr said the remaining five years are being purchased by JPMorgan Chase at an interest rate of less than 2%. Karr called such a rate “phenomenal,” especially in advance of rates expecting to spike in the coming months. “We’re getting this all done before we see any move by the Fed to increase rates in the March-April timeframe,” he said.
“This puts us in a great financial position to finance the fire station and the road building,” Karr told the trustees during Tuesday’s meeting.
The new Fire Station 321 will be constructed just north of the current station on Liberty Road where the current baseball fields exist, while the fields will be moved to the grounds of the current fire station. The road maintenance facility will be constructed in Liberty Park. Karr said timelines for the completion of the two projects will take shape after they go out to bid.
During last week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the township hall and administrative building, Board of Trustees Chairman Bryan Newell highlighted the need for a separation of the township offices and the fire station, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic.
“One of the things that COVID has taught is that we need to start thinking about safety and operations together and not in different ways,” Newell said. “We have a meeting space across the street that has served us well for many years, and at the time it was a great idea to combine functions, use one space, and save some money. That’s kind of always been the heart of Liberty Township, finding ways to save and do more with less.
“Unfortunately, with COVID, that’s kind of showed us that that model may not serve the public and our first responders the best. That was one of the many reasons we decided to undertake the study for this project. I’m happy to say that we found a solution to our COVID meeting space problem.”