County board authorizes two bond issues

by Kelly Johnson
Staff Writer

Anoka County is entering the bond market.

Last week the county board authorized the sale of general obligation capital improvement bonds not to exceed $15.3 million and awarded the sale of general obligation refunding bonds for three existing bonds, two of them capital improvement projects and the third for library projects, totaling $4,457,628.

The capital improvement bond is expected to have an interest rate of 2 percent or lower.

“It’s an excellent time for financing,” said County Commissioner Matt Look, chairperson of the board’s Finance and Capital Improvements Committee, which recommended the bond sales.

In addition to low interest rates, the county’s excellent bond rating – AAA from Standard and Poors, the highest rating possible, and AA1 from Moody’s – is part of the reason for the low rates.

Three-quarters of the proceeds from the capital improvement bond sale will be for road improvement projects, with the rest helping to pay for the reconstruction and addition to the highway department’s facility.

Road projects in the bond issue are the reconstruction of CSAH 17 (Lexington Avenue) from Main Street to Bunker Lake Boulevard, an upgrade of Bunker Lake Boulevard from Sunfish Drive to Thurston Avenue and the concrete overlay project at Crosstown Boulevard from CSAH 20 to Highway 65.

According to County Highway Engineer Doug Fischer, the Lexington Avenue project is set for construction this year, with $4,962,080 in bonding representing the county’s share of the project cost, which is estimated at $11.6 million.

A federal grant totaling $5.8 million has been approved for the project, with both the cities of Blaine and Ham Lake also contributing toward the project costs.

An over two-mile stretch of Lexington Avenue will be upgraded from two lanes to a four-lane highway with a median, protected right- and left-turn lanes and trails, Fischer said.

In Ramsey and Anoka, the Bunker Lake Boulevard project, which was started in 2011, will go from two to four lanes with a median, protected right- and left-turn lanes and a trail, and is set for completion this year.

The bond proceeds will cover the county’s $3.3 million share of the $5 million total project costs.

The Crosstown Boulevard project was completed in 2011 as part of the county’s street ongoing preservation program, Fischer said, and included a concrete overlay of the existing roadway.

Bond proceeds will cover the project’s entire cost, which was $2.1 million.

The county highway facility is being expanded and renovated to meet the growing need for more space. Work began in 2011 and is scheduled for completion in August.

The $4,297,815 included in the bond issue represents the final payment on the project. Money for the project had been included in prior bond issues.

Refunding the existing three bonds will take a year off the payment schedule and will save the county some $200,000.

Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]