Larchmont Prepares for $3.2 Million Makeover:
Bonds Will Fund 6 Major Capital Improvements
by Laura Bintzer
(June 10, 2004)
The Larchmont Village Board “gulped” and then
took six separate votes in favor of bond resolutions to fund
projects that have been in the planning for a long time.
The plan is to borrow a total of $3.2 million for one year,
and then to re-evaluate the budget for each project with
an eye towards rolling the remaining debt into longer-term
Mayor Ken Bialo explained each project and
asked the question that many in the room had on their minds: “Why borrow
now?” He offered two reasons.
The first is interest rates. Though not as
low as last year, interest rates are still at attractive
levels. The second
reason is to take advantage of a number of grant programs
and other leverage possibilities. With a number of grants
already in hand, and a number of others pending or likely,
Larchmont is looking at being reimbursed for much of the
money it will borrow.
Carmine DeLuca, treasurer for both the Town
of Mamaroneck and the Village of Larchmont, said the borrowing
really just standard procedure. “A lot of the resolutions
are estimated amounts.” He explained, “You have
to have a resolution to borrow money and have a bond sale.
That’s the normal procedure; we’re ready right
Prior to the vote, Mayor Bialo described each
bond resolution, its purpose and its current financial status.
Garbage: Number one on the
list is for a new garbage truck. There is currently a fleet
of seven trucks
of Larchmont; however, two of them are from 1985 and,
at this point, inefficient. One new one, for the price of
$155,000, would replace the two old ones.
Flint Park: Bond resolution number two is for an expansion
of fields at Flint Park. This bond does not include funds
environmental waterfront project or for a redesign and replacement
of Flint Park’s playground equipment. The bond does
cover the estimated cost of new fields, $1,050,000, although
taxpayers could end up footing the bill for as little $400,000,
depending on the success of grant applications that are being
processed, as well as fundraising by sports leagues.
Streetscape: The third resolution is for
the Boston Post Road streetscape renovation. This particular
bond is for
has already received $150,000 from CDBG (Community Development
Block Grants), and another $100,000 with the help of Representative
Nita Lowey. With these grants and reimbursements from adjoining
property owners, the cost of the Boston Post Road streetscape
could end up being $400,000 or less for taxpayers. (For details,
Streetscape Project: Sketches Now on Public View.)
Storm water: Next to be voted on were bonds
for improving the way Larchmont handles storm water. All
federal mandates to clean up their storm water run off. To
comply, Larchmont must purchase a lot of equipment including:
a vacuum truck to clear away major storm sewer blockages,
a camera inspection system to locate the blocks, and a portable
generating system to power the other equipment. Also needed
are hydrocarbon filters and a debris filtering system, which
together will greatly reduce the amount of litter running
into the Long Island Sound. This endeavor will also be subsidized
through a grant obtained with help from Congresswoman Lowey.
The storm water clean-up bond totals $550,000, but the net
to taxpayers is expected to run around $230,000.
Ice-Patch: The last two bonds deal with
the Village of Larchmont’s “ice-patch” problem.
This problem occurs when water from sump pumps and gutters
on private properties gushes into the street and freezes
during cold weather. The water, also known as “dry
weather flow” puddles inappropriately when drains are
not close enough to take care of the surge. (See: Next
Steps to Attacking "Dry Weather Flows)
Bond number five,
for $150,000, would fund development of designs for solving
the problem at approximately 60 to 70 locations. Bond number
six, for $300,000 would be for new storm drains. Thanks
to federal and state programs, the taxpayers are likely
to pay only 20% of each bill.
The total cost of all six bonds is $3.2 Million. Given all
the grants, both received and pending, taxpayers will pay
between $1.5 million and $1.8 million, Mayor Bialo estimated.
Why borrow at all? Mayor Bialo explained that the Village
of Larchmont does have a $2 million surplus; however, that
surplus is at a “comfort level” that bond raters,
financial advisors, and the board all feel comfortable with.
Furthermore, with a total cost of $3.2 million, even wiping
out the surplus would not eliminate the need to borrow.
Mayor Bialo also explained why the village does not intend
to “call in the bonds” as soon as the grant or
fundraising funds show up. People who are buying Larchmont
debt would shy away from that sort of transaction. The current
structure allows Larchmont to take out all the debt at once – saving
transaction and legal fees. That way even if rates go up,
by the time the Village goes to roll-over the debt next year,
Larchmont will be ahead.
Ned Benton, a former trustee, was very supportive. “It’s
a good thing to invest in our collective back yards” he
remarked at the board meeting. He continued to agree that
the bond resolution program “sounds like a sensible
Mayor Bialo responded by adding that everyone took “big
gulps” about aiming for a $3.2 million project. Still,
because of the current leverage possibilities, “the
public gets a lot of bang for its buck,” he concluded.
The board joined him in voting unanimously for each bond