Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, August 19, 2019

Commissioners discuss bond issue

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Local News

Vote expected Feb. 11 on 2019 financing for emergency services building

Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners is looking at financing part of its planned $17 million emergency services complex through a bond issue, according to a proposed ordinance heard at the workshop meeting Feb. 4.

Christopher Gibbons, a financial adviser and municipal manager from Concord Public Finance, of Lancaster, said last month the firm would recommend the township finance $10 million through either a bond issue or a bank loan after it had received proposals from banks.

Gibbons said the firm requested proposals from 31 banks and received eight proposals from six banks.

“It is a credit to the township,” Gibbons said. “That is a lot of proposals.”

He said the firm was recommending a bond issue because it offered a lower interest rate.

Gibbons said the township will get a lower interest rate by borrowing $10 million in 2019 and the remainder of the project cost in 2020. The project’s estimated cost is $17,735,000.

He said financing would be on a 25-year repayment schedule and estimated the interest rate would be around 3.25 percent. Gibbons said he will have the specific terms when the board votes on the ordinance to finance $10 million through a bond issue at its meeting Feb. 11.

In December, the township approved Kelly, Clough, Bucher and Associates (KCBA), of Hatfield, as architect and D’Huy Engineering, of Bethlehem, as construction manager on the new 29,000-square-foot police station and the renovation of the township building on the current municipal site on MacArthur Road. Construction is anticipated to start by spring 2020.

The new two-story building would have a secure entryway for safe prisoner movements, large evidence room and records storage, more office space, a training room, a public meeting room, a gym and locker and shower area.

The renovation would have the tax office, code enforcement office, recreation department, administration offices and restrooms connected to a community transaction area, where the public could easily access them.

The board also discussed a proposed ordinance that would reduce the speed limit on South and North Third streets between Lehigh Street and Hokendauqua Street to 25 mph. Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. said he has heard concerns from residents about the speed of vehicles on Third Street and that other streets in the area had 25 mph speed limits. He said the matter was discussed by the township traffic control board, which felt it made sense to lower the speed for matters of safety and consistency.

However, he said the township could not put stop signs in the area, as some residents had requested, because the location didn’t meet federal requirements.

In other traffic business, board members discussed a resolution to install a license plate reader on a traffic signal at the intersection of MacArthur Road and Jordan Parkway.

Harakal said the device would scan license plates to check to see if the vehicle is registered, which is harder now that license plates no longer have registration stickers. Pennsylvania eliminated registration stickers in 2016 to save costs.

Commissioner Jeffrey Warren said the device can also be used to identify stolen vehicles and to help find missing persons.

Township Engineer Frank Clark said the location was chosen because of its high volume of traffic.