News

Gettysburg gets heated over $4 million bond

Written by Lillian Reed/The Hanover Evening Sun | Jun 29, 2016 10:24 AM
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(Gettysburg) -- Gettysburg Borough's deteriorating streets may soon be smoothed following council's decision Monday to take out an about $4 million bond, the maximum amount considered.

Still, much like the disintegrating roadways the bond will be used to repair, the civil deliberation preceding the vote swiftly crumbled into shouting.

For weeks, Gettysburg Borough Council debated how large that bond should be. The list of the most urgent capital improvements, including dire road repairs and replacing a street sweeper on its last legs, easily toppled more than $5 million in estimated expenses for the borough, officials said during deliberations.

With municipal bond interest rates at their lowest in decades, several borough council members argued the borough should take out the maximum of $4 million.

Others thought Gettysburg should take out a much smaller bond, arguing that the structural deficit ailing the borough should be addressed first.

"The idea of this transaction being postured as a legacy for council, I find that difficult to swallow," Gettysburg resident Rodger Goodacre said during public comment Monday. "The legacy for people is paying off a mortgage. We haven't yet addressed the systemic budget problems for this borough."

Gettysburg resident Steve Hemler, who has criticized taking out any bond for the borough before an older 2010 bond has been paid off, stated that the borough mislead people with how much money was going toward issuance costs.

"So I would like to know where are you going to come up with the money for the closing costs on this bond," Hemler said. "No one has ever said that but, according to the motion, you can only borrow $4 million."

Gettysburg's solicitor Harold Eastman clarified that the ordinance was advertised as $8.25 million. That amount will cover the issuance costs, the refinancing of a previous 2010 bond and the cost of a bond for Gettysburg Municipal Authority, according to the borough's financial consultant, Gary Pulcini, of Capital Markets Management, LLC.

Hemler continued to question council about the $4 million amount until council member Jake Schindel interrupted, stating "let's not do this, Steve."

Hemler told Schindel to "shut up" several times before council president Robert Krummerich used his gavel to quiet the room and declared Hemler "out of order."

The decision was not without its dissenters on council as well.

Council members AmyBeth Hodges, who was not physically at the meeting but participated via speakerphone, and Scot Pitzer both voted no the bond. Pitzer believed the bond was necessary but that the figure of $4 million was too high, he said.

Both Hodges and Pitzer expressed at the May 9 meeting that they preferred to borrow $1.3 million instead, according to meeting minutes.

Now that the bond amount has been approved, council will use the money to refinance a previous bond and complete the necessary capital improvements over the next three years.

 

This article comes to us through a partnership between WITF and the Hanover Evening Sun.

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