Washington County initiates steps for $20 million bond sale

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There's a full slate of capital improvement projects planned for Washington County this summer, and now the county is starting to plan how to fund those projects, too.

At the March 1 meeting, the Washington County Board of Commissioners initiated the first steps needed to issue $20 million in Capital Improvement Plan bonds to pay for several projects slated for 2016.

The county issues bonds to fund capital improvements like roads, buildings, utilities and similar infrastructure. In fact, since 2008, bond funds average about 25 percent of the total funding for the county's CIP, according to Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg.

The bond funds will be used to pay for a portion of five different projects in 2016. Locally, $1.5 million of the Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park renovation will be funded through the bond proceeds, and $5 million in bonds will be allocated to the county's portion of the County State Aid Highway 21 project in downtown Afton.

Just north of Woodbury, a two-phase road project on CSAH 15, from CSAH 10 to Trunk Highway 5, is planned for this summer. Ticketed with a pricetag of $12.8 million, the project will rely heavily on bond funds, as $10 million will be used to pay for the improvements.

The remaining projects include an allocation of $2.5 million in bonds for improvements to CSAH 4 in Marine on St. Croix, and $1 million in bond funding to install fiber optic cabling between the Washington County Government Center and all of the county's branch sites.

"These projects will benefit future citizens of the county, meaning the life of the improvement should be at least as long, and preferably longer, than the term of the bond sale," Sandberg said. "Without the bond sale and the funding associated with it, the improvements would not be possible to be made in the timeframe in which they are needed."

Commissioners held a public hearing to set a resolution that spelled out the terms and conditions of the bond sale at the meeting. They are expected to award the sale of the bonds at the April 5 meeting, and receive funds for the projects in May.

All of the commissioners support the issuance of bonds for this year's capital projects.

"Certainly this is a bond sale that has projects that support all of Washington County," District 1 Commissioner Fran Miron said. "These projects cover the full length and area of the county, and I think we've had many discussions over the years that, what's good in one area is good for all of Washington County."

District 4 Commissioner Karla Bigham agreed.

"This is a very good investment," she said. "We've done a very thorough job with staff and with deliberations by the board on these projects, and I think they all are going to improve the quality of life for the residents of Washington County."