City of Ferris passes $3.2-million bond package
FERRIS – On Jan. 27, the Ferris City Council unanimously approved the issuance of $3.2-million in Revenue Certificates of Obligation (Bonds) to address the major infrastructure deficiencies in the city as it relates to the water and sewer systems.
Revenue Bonds do not increase the amount of money that taxpayers currently pay. The bonds are paid for using existing revenue in the city. Ferris was able to utilize the strong bond rating (AA-) to obtain a sub-3% rate (2.49%) and take advantage of a favorable bond market.
Ferris City Manager Brooks Williams said, “This Is the beginning of the funding needed to correct the major infrastructure issues in Ferris, and an additional $3.5-million would be required in the near future.
“We plan to manage our finances in a way that will allow us to issue the next round of bonds as Revenue Bonds as well. Our goal is as little tax impact as possible. We do recognize a time will come in the near future where further bonds, beyond this $6.7-million, will be required, and we will need to potentially raise taxes.”
The list of projects included in the approved bond package are:
• City-wide meter replacements. There will no longer be meter-readings that require a public works employee to physically come to the meter. This will be managed by a digital system that is read and transmitted directly to the billing software.
• A new 12” water line will be bored across I-45. There is currently only one line in operation, and that exposes the city and residents to a potential water outage – should that line fail.
• The North Pasture Well will be repaired. Currently, the city utilizes both Rockett water and well water from downtown. The North Pasture well is in Dallas County, and is much less expensive to operate. The well has needed repairs for years – and the repairs were neglected. This caused further issues, and now will be repaired to generate an additional source of water for the city. The North Pasture well water will be fed to the downtown pump station to mix and create a higher quality of water. This will require transmission lines to be installed from the North Pasture to downtown.
• An LAS & Chlorine system – with a new building – is being installed for water treatment at the downtown pump station. This will improve overall water treatment and quality of the water.
• The Lift Station #3 will undergo improvements.
• The Lift Station #3 force-main will be upgraded to accommodate better and more sewage flow.
• 1st Street will undergo sewer improvements that will aid in reducing the odor.
• FM 983 will undergo sewer improvements.
• The downtown pump station will undergo improvements and upgrades.
Williams said that this issuance of bonds, “Completes 10 of the 15 major infrastructure projects in the city of Ferris.
“The lack of attention given to these items in the past placed this city in a position – that was just not acceptable.
“I am proud that my staff, the executive leadership team (Williams, Chief Financial Officer Bobby LaBorde and EDC Director James Branch), and the Ferris City Council worked so hard to make this happen.
“It is pretty impressive to complete a rapid assessment of the issues, build a plan, position our finances, and execute a bond sale in 90-days. Everyone deserves kudos.”
When asked when the final five projects would see work being done, Williams said, “Our goal is to begin the process in April. We will receive our preliminary tax valuation at that time and that will allow us to evaluate our current stream of revenue and the amount of bonds we may be eligible for.”