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Council approves notices of intent

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

The Denton City Council this week approved its intent to issue $10.8 million in certificates of obligation, about $600,000 more than originally planned for 2013-14 because of higher-than-estimated costs for fire station improvements.

The debt will cover the new estimated total of $4.3 million for the fire station, plus $2 million to replace vehicles, $1.75 million for a new hangar at Denton Enterprise Airport, $1.5 million for other improvements to city facilities and $1 million for traffic signals.

By approving the notices of intent to issue the certificate debt, the council essentially signaled its agreement with a number of recommended budget changes from the staff for the 2013-14 budget year. The budget amendments themselves are expected to be formally approved by the City Council during its regular meeting April 1.

The two biggest moves are related to the reconstruction of Fire Station No. 2 and the renovations of the Civic Center Pool, according to a presentation made by the finance staff during the City Council’s work session on the topic.

When the council approved the reconstruction of Fire Station No. 2, the fire department was working with a per-square-foot estimate that was much lower than the architect’s current estimate, outgoing Fire Chief Ross Chadwick told the council.

Construction bids could still come in lower, he said, but the change in estimate requires that an additional $1.3 million be allocated to the project.

Chuck Springer, director of finance, told the council the new estimate affects the city’s allocations for the capital improvement fund. The staff recommended reducing the allocation for the pool by $700,000, leaving $300,000 this year for the design work required to make the renovations. Instead, the city will move payment for the pool renovation work to certificate debt planned for issue in 2014-15, Springer said.

Other recommendations from the staff include adding $200,000 for outside legal services and $40,000 for a city planning project, already approved by the council, with the Better Block program.

With the amendments, the city is also expected to hire two new people in Technology Services. The employees will be part of Denton Municipal Electric’s energy management program. The demands of the software system that runs the program require the new hires, Springer said, adding $144,000 to the department’s budget for this year.

But the money to pay for the new staff, this year and in the coming years, will come from the city’s electric fund, Springer said.

The presentation came after the city heard from its independent auditor. The annual audit did not uncover any concerns about the city’s current financial position or practices.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.