New Milford looks to borrow nearly $30 million
NEW MILFORD — The town is awaiting approval to borrow $29.8 million.
Up to $21.5 million would be used for new projects that include the library, roofs and roadwork. These funds will be done as bond anticipation notices, or BANs, until the bids come back and Town Council has the actual costs, Mayor Pete Bass said.
The matter still has to win approval from the finance board and town meeting, which has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 28.
Finance Director Greg Osipow said borrowing for these projects won’t happen until they have the project costs and can determine how much the town is able to pay.
“We have to determine how much to do and how much we can do,” Osipow said.
This could take two to three years. He added they’ll be done as short-term borrowing until the work is complete and then it will be rolled into a bond for long-term borrowing. The last time this happened was for $13.9 million in April 2017.
The town also wants approval for $8.3 million in existing debt or debt that was already approved but hasn’t been borrowed. This figure includes the money for last year’s roadwork, which is expected to be converted from short-term to long-term borrowing.
The biggest piece of the new funding is $10 million for road work, which includes paving, repairs and improvements. It focuses on significant improvements to nine roads, but also includes money for paving a number of secondary roads.
It would also include $6.5 million for the library modernization. New Milford hasn’t renovated its library since the 1970s. In that time, all but one other library in the state have been renovated. But residents approved the project last November.
The project would expand the library from 15,000 to 22,000 square feet. It would add a new facade and entrance to the 1977 addition to help it fit better into the downtown aesthetic and make it easier to access. It also would add features that make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and meeting space and bigger program areas for the children and young adult sections.
There is also $5 million for roofs on town and school buildings in the new funding. Several roof projects have been on the list for a while, but the macroburst last May pushed the high school to the top of the list. They are still deciding the best way to replace the high school roof.
Even with the millions more in borrowing, the town’s financial adviser Barry Bernabe said the debt service will remain at the current level of about $6 million for several years before decreasing even more. Low interest rates, the town’s record of paying off bonds and the town’s high bond rating make this possible, he said.
“New Milford is in a good position for all of these parts,” Bernabe said.
New Milford has the second highest bond rating classification, Bernabe said, adding they will try to get the top rating this summer.
He said the recent changes in tax law have also increased the demand for bonds. “We’ve seen more demand for these bond sales, so the town couldn’t be in a better position,” Bernabe said.
Councilman Doug Skelly agreed that it couldn’t be a better time to borrow. “It’s a perfect storm,” he said.