Safety gear upgrade is nigh

It has only been two weeks since Coral Springs borrowed $12.45 million at a fixed interest rate of 2.4 percent for its public safety projects, but the city began working on some of the projects much before voters approved the general bond referendum in the November elections.

The bond, which was approved by 71.65 percent of the voters, will be used to fund five projects, the biggest among them being the $5.5 million upgrade of the city’s public safety communication equipment. Work on the project started months ago.

“The emergency dispatch communication equipment installation is nearly complete,” said Rob Goehrig, the city’s director of budget, strategy and communication. “Equipment testing will commence soon. We expect the new system to be operational by the end of March.”

The city plans to spend $900,000 for a permanent Safety Town building that will replace the aging trailer that is currently being used. “The building design is ready,” said Goehrig. “We will go out to bid for a contractor soon; construction is estimated to begin in late spring and finish by the end of the calendar year.”

Fire Stations 43 and 95 will be replaced for a total cost of $5.1 million. The other project that will be funded with the money borrowed is the renovation of the city’s crime scene investigation building; $950,000 has been set aside for that. The city is currently in the process of selecting an architect for the building renovation project, as well as the two new fire stations.

The bonds were issued through TD Bank, which was one of the five financial institutions that responded to the city’s request for proposals in December. The city had the option of going for a 20-year loan but decided to go for a 15-year term as borrowing the funds for 20 years would have added 8.6 percent to the cost of the projects.

“While the 15-year maturity is $4 a year more to a household than the 20-year maturity, it saves $26 per household over the life of the bond,” said Finance Director Melissa Heller. “The 15-year term is by far the most cost-effective borrowing option.

“The loan route was used instead of a public bond sale because it is much less expensive for a borrowing of this size,” Heller said. “The cost of issuance would have easily more than doubled going a different route.”

The bond referendum was one of the issues on the ballot last year. Among the other issues was a potential salary hike for city officials; the voters decided they didn’t like the idea.

City amends rules relatedto fences

The Coral Springs City Commission has unanimously approved amending the rules related to fences and hedges. Use of different types of fencing material within the same property, which was allowed in most other cities in the tri-county area but not in Coral Springs, is now permitted in the city, as well.

The city will, from now on, allow wood fences to be painted or stained in accordance with an approved paint or stain palette. The maximum height for residential fences and walls, for side yards facing rights-of-way, has been increased from 5 feet to 6 feet.

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

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