Fruita pumping millions into projects
Community center bond OK’d; loan will go toward treatment plant
By LE ROY STANDISH
Fruita is pushing forward with construction of a voter-approved $15 million community center and a $30 million federally mandated wastewater treatment plant.
Fruita City Council on Tuesday voted to use sales tax revenue to support $15 million in revenue bonds for the construction of the community center at 324 N. Coulson St.
Also on Tuesday, funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were tapped to help get construction going on the wastewater treatment plant, 1480 U.S. Highway 6&50. The federal dollars are making a low-interest — 3.5 percent — loan of $5 million available to Fruita, which will allow construction to start as the 2013 deadline to have the new plant online looms.
“This is the single largest construction project in the history of Fruita and it is mandated by the federal government,” Fruita Mayor Ken Henry said.
The low-interest loan is being provided by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. An injection of stimulus money from Washington is allowing the authority to offer the low-rate loan, said City Manager Clint Kinney.
The authority will take the loans from multiple small cities and present the bonds in one package to the market sometime around November, he said.
“Once they do their bonding then we will go into a longer-term loan,” Kinney said.
The longer-term loan will be in the neighborhood of $25 million and have a 2 1/2 percent interest rate, Kinney said. Before the influx of stimulus money, the interest rate was close to 5 percent, he said.
For the community center, contractor FCI Constructors has made substantial revisions to the original plan to keep it within the voter-approved $15 million budget, Henry said.
“We are looking more in the $13.2 million range, total,” Henry said. “There are no frills at that community center.”
Helping to keep costs down is a partnership with Mesa County Libraries. The library system is building an 8,000-square-foot branch within the community center. That allows the city to split costs on some construction and operational costs, such as utilities, Henry said.
Kinney said the bonds for the community center will have a maximum annual percentage rate of 7 percent. The ordinance passed by the council Tuesday opens a six-month window to sell the bonds.
With the economy in the doldrums, such as it is, construction is a mixed bag.
“We are very cautious of the economy and we want to take advantage of the construction prices, but we are very cautious with the revenue stream and we want to make sure we keep those balanced,” Kinney said.