Mt. Lebanon Commission plans to vote July 9 on a $5 million bond issue, following a public hearing scheduled the same evening.
At their June 25 meeting, commissioners voted to introduce an ordinance for incurring debt for capital projects and refunding portions of two previous general obligation bonds at better interest rates. Andrew McCreery, municipal finance director, said he is hopeful of obtaining an interest rate of below 2.5 percent for the new borrowing.
The amount of the 2019 issue represents what can be borrowed without the need for a real estate tax increase to pay debt service.
During the discussion session preceding the regular meeting, commissioners agreed to earmark funds for several projects with a total estimate of nearly $4.7 million. The remainder of the $5 million could be built into contingency funds for some of the projects.
At the top of the list is $2.1 million for a Washington Road streetscape improvement project, toward which the municipality has received grants totaling almost half the cost from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Multimodal Transportation Fund and the state’s Gaming Economic Development Fund.
In conjunction, commissioners agreed to have proceeds from the bond issue cover renovations to Parse Way, the street that accesses the Mt. Lebanon light-rail transit station, and implementing a “placemaking” plan that would involve new signage and other facets to help make the central business district more people-friendly.
Other agreed-upon projects address needs at Mt. Lebanon Public Library, the public works facility and municipal parks, along with reconstruction of several courts at the tennis center. Also, a turning lane is to be built on Bower Hill Road at its intersection with Washington Road.
We have had numerous problems at that intersection, especially when school starts, between St. Bernard and everybody else trying to get where they need to go. It’s probably the intersection I have the most comments about,” Commissioner Kelly Fraasch said.
The library’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system will be replaced, with the possibility of grant money covering nearly half. A new roof is planned, too.
“We did a temporary on the library to get us where we are now,” municipal manager Keith McGill told commissioners. “I don’t know how much longer we can go without actually starting to spend more on repairs than we would on the replacement.”
Mt. Lebanon Indoor Tennis, which was founded in 1967, has pledged $180,000 toward the cost of replacing six courts.
To issue bonds, the municipality is proceeding with what is known as a parameters ordinance, in which the maximum principal and interest rate are assigned artificially high numbers.
“The advantage to doing the parameters ordinance instead of the straightforward buy on the day of the sale is it gives you and the underwriter the flexibility to determine a date that makes sense in terms of going into the market,” said Ronald Brown, an attorney with Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote P.C., to commissioners.
Brown, whose firm provides bond counsel services to the municipality, said the proceeds should be available in mid-August.
“There’s no question rates have dropped dramatically over the last six to eight months,” he said, “and that’s really been an impetus for a lot of issuance and a lot of opportunity to refund existing debt.”