OGDEN -- After years of discussion, the Ogden city water bond issue has finally been resolved.
The city council voted to finalize two separate bond resolutions that will allow the city to pay for a new water treatment plant and other storm sewer-related improvement projects throughout the city.
The first resolution authorizes the city to pay for a new water treatment plant at the top of Ogden Canyon by issuing $13.4 million in bonds and paying it off over 25 years. The second resolution pays for storm sewer improvements along Harrison Boulevard by issuing $4.7 million in bonds with a 20-year repayment period.
At the council's request, the city administration provided four other bond options to pay for the water treatment facility.
Other iterations of the bond, which include lowering the repayment period to 20 years and decreasing the amount to $11.6 million, have been considered by the council.
Mayor Mike Caldwell and the city administration had previously recommended a 30-year, $13.8 million bond.
The council approved both bonds by a vote of 6 to 1, with council member Amy Wicks being the lone dissenting vote.
Wicks sent a letter to all council members earlier this week, recommending a bond of just less than $12 million with an interest rate of 4.1 percent.
That bond would have been repaid over 20 years with an annual payment of $888,193.
Wicks said that by choosing the lesser bond, the city would have essentially cut interest payments in half, which represents money that could be invested in future infrastructure projects.
The city contends that by going with a higher bond, it will have more cash to increase the number of projects to replace leaking pipes and address other projects identified in the water utility master plan.
"Some of these projects we've got to get to soon, or we won't be able to deliver water to the tap," said city Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson. "That's our concern."
But Wicks' letter challenges the city's stance, saying the city's water fund cash balance stands at more than $10 million, equal to nearly a full year of operating expenses, and that cash continues to flow into the fund at a rate that is faster than anticipated by nearly $1.5 million each year.
"Our obvious response should be to spend our surplus cash on the infrastructure projects listed in the financial plan that we adopted last year," Wicks said. "Yet the administration is urging us to hold onto this cash and pay for all of this year's scheduled projects with borrowed money."
Wicks said the pipe-replacement problem is primarily a long-term issue, not something that can be addressed with any short-term spending.
Several Ogden residents spoke out against the approved bond at the meeting. The six council members who voted for the bond said it represents the most logical way to replace the treatment plant.