Lexington council members got into an indepth discussion about borrowing policies this week at city hall. It came during the Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee meeting.
Council Member Amanda Mays Bledsoe asked Finance Commissioner Bill O’mara if bonding, or borrowing for infrastructure and capital construction expenses, will virtually always be a part of budgeting.
“You’d have to stop bonding for a while to catch up. I guess is my point. And we’re not going to see that anytime soon. Right?” asked Mays Bledsoe.
“I don’t anticipate that,” responded O’mara.
O’mara told committee members there will always be aging infrastructure needs to address. The Lexington government’s current bonding debt comes to $515 million. That requires $42 million dollars in a debt service payment.
That covers a number of high profile projects like the new convention center, Town Branch Commons, and the historic courthouse refurbishing, but also park improvements and new fire stations.
Council has borrowed to pay for road paving work. Council Member Kevin Stinnett believes cash may be a better option for that expense. “It’s actually a deteriorating asset. I’d rather bond the buildings and other infrastructure versus roads. You know, we all can have an opinion on that. Cause roads, we’re always going to be repaving every six years. Seven years,” said Stinnett.
Council Member Fred Brown expressed concern about borrowing levels. He said council has not balanced a budget without bonding since 2005, something Brown claims doesn’t make sense in the, quote, “financial world.”