PORTLAND — The sky may not be falling, but city officials are concerned about unstable portions of the Temple Street parking garage facade.

“This is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t invest in your capital assets over time,” City Manager Jon Jennings said Jan. 10 about worked needed at garages on Temple and Spring streets, part of his $21 million capital improvements plan for fiscal year 2020.

The CIP was presented to the council Finance Committee, which will hold a Jan. 24 public hearing on the proposal before forwarding it to the full council. Jennings said he hopes it will be approved by the end of next month.

CIP spending adds $5 million in new debt with bonds totaling $17 million. The city and School Department will each add $1 million from surplus funds, and the remaining funding will come largely from state and federal sources.

The new debt will add 5 cents to the tax rate beginning in fiscal year 2021, after the bond purchases.

The CIP allocates $1 million for repairs at the city-owned garages, with $700,000 for removing and replacing the concrete on the Temple Street facade.

City Parking Manager Jon Peverada said some of the concrete has fallen, and contractors removed other pieces that looked unstable.

The more critical work, at a cost of $290,000, will come at the Spring Street garage, where beams and joints are rusting, Jennings said.

O’Connell noted both garages typically bring in $1 million in revenue above operating expenses annually, and the work at Temple Street will be offset by money left over from a prior improvement project.

The new debt will also allow the city to catch up on its vehicle needs, and includes two hybrid cruisers for city police. The Fire Department will be able to replace the engine at the Ocean Avenue fire station.

O’Connell said the spending increase may lead to some savings down the road because maintenance costs will become more routine for newer vehicles than repairs to aging ones.

The new CIP has $3.5 million for school projects and vehicles, with $960,000 going for new windows, air handling units and kitchen upgrades at Deering High School.

The city will also spend $55,000 for 12 metal detectors. Four each would be installed at the Portland Expo and Merrill Auditorium, with two each as backups in the venues.

Omitted from the new CIP is replacement lighting for Hadlock Field as the city and Portland Sea Dogs began looking for ways to share the cost.

Jennings and O’Connell expect this to be the last year where debt will be increasing, even as the amount of retiring debt will be decreasing to about $10 million annually from fiscal years 2021-24.

In that time, new debt will be incurred both by the $64 million bond to renovate and rebuild four city elementary schools and in yearly $1 million increases to pay off a pension obligation note through 2026.

While the school bonds are paid through education budgets, the bond debt is still part of the overall property tax rate.

Revenue from tax increment finance zones will not be used this year, O’Connell said, but will be part of future CIP budgets as the TIF accounts increase.

Jennings also brought forward a $28 million capital improvements budget for stormwater and sewer work. Those bonds are repaid with sewer and stormwater fees assessed in the city.

David Harry can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland is proposing borrowing $700,000 for repairs to the concrete facade on the Temple Street garage.


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