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City could shave $3 million off Fibrant debt

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City manager Lane Bailey announced that the city has received a refinance proposal that could eliminate more than $3 million worth of Fibrant debt.

The Salisbury City Council met at City Hall on Tuesday.

Towards the end of the meeting, Bailey said the city’s finance department has been working with finance advisors since the spring to refinance Fibrant debt.

The city recently reduced the general fund contribution to Fibrant, the city’s fiber optic network, from an estimated $3.5 million in the last fiscal year’s budget to $2.9 million in this fiscal year’s budget.

Public Financial Management, acting on the city’s behalf, sent out a request for proposals and received one proposal back.

The proposal has a fixed interest rate of 2.06 percent.

“This will eliminate over $3 million worth of debt service,” Bailey said.

“We’d like to use that savings to increase the rate of the refunding on our (Salisbury-Rowan Utilities) loan,” he said.

“That is very exciting news,” Mayor Karen Alexander said.

Earlier in the meeting, the council heard a presentation from Downtown Salisbury, Inc. Executive Director Paula Bohland and Centralina Council of Government Executive Director Jim Prosser about the Downtown Salisbury Open House Series on Public Improvements.

The first open house was held on June 23. About 75 people attended and 62 people filled out surveys about how Downtown Salisbury can serve them and the community in the future and what important criteria should be used to evaluate options for downtown public improvements.

Some of the top answers for how Downtown Salisbury can serve residents and the community were to offer walkable and bikable parks and greenspace, retail and dining to meet the needs of the residents and more downtown events.

Top answers for important criteria for evaluating options for public improvements to downtown included costs, impacts to traffic and traffic safety, the cost of doing nothing and affordability and return on investment.

Prosser asked the council and mayor to encourage more residents to attend future open houses.

“We encourage the council especially to identify people that have shown interest or concern and especially people who in the past have been skeptical or not supportive of making improvements,” he said. “We want to understand what their concerns are because those concerns need to be addressed.”

Councilman Kenny Hardin asked questions about the methodology of the surveys. He asked if the 62 people who filled out surveys was a large enough sample size and if they were recording who was filling out the surveys, whether residents or business owners.

Prosser said they were not conducting a scientific survey so it would be up to the council to determine if 62 people is a large enough sample size, though all comments are important to the decision-making process. He also said the surveys asked for demographics, but some people did not feel comfortable filling that portion out because they wanted to keep their response private.

Two more open houses are in the planning stages. The second, planned for October, will ask residents and business owners about different options to address the issues they said were important. A third open house is planned for February.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved the consent agenda, which included:
    • The adoption an $11,683 budget ordinance amendment to the fiscal year 2016-2017 budget to appropriate insurance proceeds to purchase a new traffic cabinet that was damaged in a traffic accident.
    • Approval of changes to a section of the Salisbury City Code about the annual fee of cable or pipelines.
  • Removed the consideration of a resolution of support for the renaming of a portion of I-85 to honor John Ray “Curly” Seckler from the agenda. Mayor Alexander said there were issues at the state level.
  • Held public hearing about a $25,000 Industrial Building Revitalization Grant for Southmark Limited III, LLC at 408 Long Meadow Drive. Royce Apparel, the current tenant of the building at Long Meadow Drive, is moving its headquarters from Cabarrus County to the Salisbury facility. The grant will be used for renovations of the property. The council approved the grant while also acknowledging the grant requirements may need to be changed in the future.
  • Adopted an ordinance to reduce the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph along Sherwood and Rosemont streets and in the 600 block of D Avenue.
  • Adopted a resolution to allow another $24,909.41 payment to Charles R. Underwood, Inc., to finish the installation of a Floway-3 stage bowl assembly for Salisbury-Rowan Utilities.
  • Made appointments to boards and commissions.
  • Called for public comment. No one spoke.
  • Councilman David Post suggested that maintenance of the Crossroads: Past into Present mural in the first block of West Fisher Street be taken back by the city. Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell suggested that the Public Art Committee could be the group responsible.
  • Went into a closed session about an economic development and personnel matter.

The mayor proclaimed July 17-23, 2016 as Chickweed’s Celebrating the Indestructible Women Week and July 21, 2016 as the 100th anniversary of the Salisbury-Rowan chapter of the Red Cross.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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