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Debt reduction key to city’s financial plan

The City Council approved its five-year financial plan that highlighted the importance of knocking off debt as well as taking advantage of the opportunities to bring on more green energy projects during its meeting Tuesday night.

According to the original report, which was released in 2012, Boulder City’s financial sustainability could not continue if it held on to the shirttails of the Las Vegas economy. Since Las Vegas was considered a “one-industry, consumer-based system,” according to the report, its economic recovery would lag behind other cities across the United States.

The miles of vast, open land within Eldorado Valley helped Boulder City carve out a niche by bringing solar projects to Southern Nevada.

“Boulder City currently has over 8,000 acres of city-owned land under lease for solar development,” Financial Director Shirley Hughes said.

There are five active facilities using those 8,000 acres and, according to the financial plan, the city will reduce its existing debt by 65 percent during the next 10 years by committing a portion of the lease revenue to its debt payments.

The city is expecting to add $41.2 million to its general fund revenue throughout the next five years, Hughes said. That number increases to $82.6 million throughout the next 10 years. By the time the solar leases are over in fiscal year 2069, total lease revenue is projected at more than $439 million.

Hughes said solar funds contribute 20 to 25 percent of the city’s general fund.

Consolidated tax, however, is the city’s largest revenue stream when it comes to the general fund, the report said. When the economy peaked in 2007, consolidated tax revenue was about $8.8 million, equating to approximately 40 percent of the general fund’s revenue.

Those numbers steadily declined until 2012, but are projected to be at $9.2 million for fiscal year 2015. The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, 2016.

But the city still has $59.2 million in debt to pay off. Two obligations are toward Boulder Creek Golf Course, while the other two are for the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The debt from the Boulder Creek Golf Course bonds, as well as the city’s obligation to a third intake pipe at Lake Mead, are both expected to be paid off by fiscal year 2017, according to the report.

The $4.3 million Boulder Creek Utility Fund loan is expected to be paid off by fiscal year 2019, and the Water Authority’s Raw Waterline agreement debt, which totals $29 million in principle and nearly $15 million in interest, is expected to be paid off by fiscal year 2028.

In other council news, the city discussed how to tackle the expansion of the Boulder City Landfill.

The landfill is permitted to be filled at an elevation of 2,454 feet, and is expected to reach that capacity somewhere from 2036 to 2048, according to Public Works Director Scott Hansen.

After meeting with officials from Geotechnical &Environmental Services of Las Vegas about the project, Hansen said the cost for a lateral and vertical expansion using outside services would cost about $443,000.

Councilman Rod Woodbury inquired as why there was a 12-year window for the capacity to be filled. He added that a lateral expansion for the landfill had been approved when he joined the council in 2011.

“We think that the actual consumption probably exceeds what we’re estimating per year,” Hansen said.

The city has seen an increase in recycling, but it hasn’t been a significant increase, Hansen said.

Hughes said the city currently has a reserve of about $207,000 to use for construction costs at the landfill. Boulder City residents pay a monthly landfill maintenance fee of $1.50. Commercial customers pay 45 cents per pickup, as well as an additional charge per pound.

The council tabled the discussion for a later meeting, but council members agreed that the issue must be addressed quickly.

“I think we need to find ways to fund this,” Woodbury said. “We kicked the can down the road on a lot of these things for too long, some of it because we were in a recession. I don’t think we can do that here any longer. Whether that includes some rate increase or not, I just don’t think we can ignore it any longer.”

The city also discussed adding sculptures as part of the second phase of the Bootleg Canyon project.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.

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