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Senoia considering bonds, planning new restrooms

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Oct. 22, 2021 - 7:27 PM

Senoia considering bonds, planning new restrooms

Sarah Fay Campbell / The Newnan Times-Herald

Senoia Councilman Maurice Grover and Dale Reeder, and Mayor Dub Pearman, listen during Monday’s Senoia City Council meeting.

Refinancing existing debt could save the city of Senoia almost $900,000.

Bill Camp of Raymond James financial advisors spoke to the Senoia City Council this week about the benefits of some refunding.

The city has water and sewer loans that can be paid off at any point with no penalty. The city has a new loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority for the new sewer plant as well, but Camp said they are not recommending refinancing that loan.

On a principal of about $4.6 million, the city could save almost $900,000 or around 17 percent.

"Usually we tell you to do a refunding if you can save 3 percent or greater," Camp said.

City Attorney Drew Whalen said that they'll be coming back to the council next month with more information to move forward on a bond issuance. Hopes are to close on the bonds by the end of the year.

"That is a pretty tight time frame. Two months is about as close as you can get," said Whalen.

In other meeting business:

• The city will be adding public restrooms to city hall, which will be open at all hours.

The Senoia City Council voted this week to approve the city hall project, which will include a men's, women's and family bathroom.

It will also dress up the back of city hall, said City Councilman Maurice Grover. "It looks like a good design," he said at a recent work session on the project.

The city currently has restrooms for public use at city hall, but they are inside the building.

After the work session, the design was changed a bit to make it more functional, said Public Works Director Curtis Hindman.

The men's and women's bathrooms will have two toilets each and the family bathroom, which is handicapped accessible, will have one.

There will also be some bench seating and an ornamental railing to provide separation between the bathroom and the parking lot, as well as some landscaping and a screen wall to hide the HVAC unit.

The price for the project is $159,733.

• The council approved the first reading of the 2022 budget.

The proposed general fund budget is $4,633,508, up from $4,171,832 in 2021.

The general fund makes up around 50 percent of the city's total budget. The water fund is 17.38 percent, the sewer fund is 13.94 percent, sanitation is 4.1 percent, stormwater is 1.64 percent, and "other" is the remaining 13.63 percent of the budget. The other fund includes impact fees, the special purpose local option sales tax and small funds.

The proposed 2022 budget includes a cost of living increase for employees, nine new vehicles for the police department, increased salaries for the city judge and attorney, and an increase in the city's costs for probation services.

The police department has a schedule for replacing vehicles to help keep the fleet new and avoid the need to replace a lot of vehicles at one time. However, several vehicles were totaled in accidents, none of which were the fault of the officers, said City Manager Harold Simmons.

The city had been using the Dodge Charger for most patrol vehicles. The Chargers "did not stand up to the test of time," Simmons said. "So we have more police cars sitting in the parking lot than we do on the road."

When COVID-19 hit, the city decided to delay some vehicle replacement because of the uncertainty of the fiscal impact from the pandemic. Now, the city is looking to replace all the cars that need replacing.

The budget also includes two new officers, new cameras and system upgrades.

The city is also looking to increase personnel at the code enforcement department, and has transitioned the city's welcome center employee from part time to full time. That person is currently helping out with some work at the police department. "But once we are up to full staff in the police department, she will be back at the welcome center full time," Simmons said.

The city's water revenues are up, and the water department is replacing two positions that were downsized when COVID-19 hit, Simmons said. The city will be hiring three employees to operate the city's new sewer plant. The plant is in the early stages of construction, so it's not known just yet when those employees will be hired, but they will need to be trained on the old system before the switch to the new system.

The city council voted to roll back property taxes this year, said Mayor Dub Pearman, and the city is fortunate to be able to roll back taxes yet still handle an increased budget.

The second reading of the budget will be at the Nov. 1 council meeting.