weather icon Partly Cloudy

City needs voters to help free funds to pay debt, save millions

Ballot questions are sometimes confusing. So I want to provide you with more details about Boulder City’s upcoming ballot question.

Boulder City Question No. 1 seeks permission for the city to use capital improvement fund money, as it becomes available, to pay down the city’s raw water line debt. To understand the purpose of this request, it’s important to first understand not only the raw water line debt but also the city’s financial plan and how the capital improvement fund works.

The raw water line was constructed in 2001 to increase water delivery capacity necessitated by increased demand. In 2006, the city refinanced the raw water line debt in the principal amount of $33,470,000 with a variable interest rate between 4.25 and 5 percent.

In the past 10 years since refinancing, we’ve paid down the principal balance by approximately $6 million, but we’ve also paid over $13 million in interest. The current principal balance is still over $27 million, with almost $12 million more in interest remaining to be paid through 2036.

However, under the leadership of former Mayor Roger Tobler and former City Manager Vicki Mayes, the city established a financial plan in 2010 that focuses heavily on debt reduction, a plan that the current City Council and staff have continued to support. As a result, we’ve recently paid off three multimillion-dollar debts — namely, the two Boulder Creek golf course debts and the third intake debt.

Our fourth and sole remaining debt is the raw water line debt, which the financial plan also addresses. Specifically, the financial plan recommends increasing our annual debt payments by $750,000 beginning on the earliest allowable date, which is fiscal year 2017-18. If we do that, then we’ll retire this debt eight years early and save almost $3.5 million in interest.

But in order to do so, we need a funding source. And the capital improvement fund is a logical source.

The city charter requires that all revenue generated from the sale of city-owned land and 20 percent of the revenue from city leases be deposited in the capital improvement fund. Miscellaneous sources such as interest income and fixed asset sales also help fund the capital improvement fund.

In recent years, most of the funding has come from leases, primarily our many solar leases but also the Cascata golf course lease, the Bootleg Canyon Flightlinez lease, and communication site leases. These leases typically inject at least $1.8 million annually into the capital improvement fund, and that number is expected to increase as more solar project phases become operational.

So why can’t the city just tap into these funds when needed? Because the charter also requires that any capital improvement fund expenditures be approved by registered voters. Hence the reason for the current ballot question.

You may be wondering why you should vote to approve this request. One obvious reason is that it will be a giant step toward paying off our sole remaining debt and making Boulder City debt-free. Being debt-free isn’t something that very many municipalities can boast. In fact, I’m not aware of any who can.

Saving ourselves millions in interest is another conspicuous reason. A third reason is that rather than depleting our utility fund to pay lenders, we’ll instead be able to pay ourselves by using the millions in interest savings for other much-needed projects like replacing our aging electric infrastructure.

And, finally, one of the most important reasons to approve this measure is that it would give the city more tools in its toolbox when faced with annual budgetary challenges. Every year there’s only so much money to go around, so too many projects and programs get kicked down the road to future years. In fact, as far as I can tell, limited funding options is one of the main reasons why prior councils repeatedly postponed urgent utility infrastructure needs in the past. They were simply hamstrung to do anything else.

Approving this ballot question will help further at least three of my five Mayor’s Vision goals for 2016, including continuing to get our financial house in order, picking up the pace to get out in front of pressing challenges on the horizon, and ultimately being more business friendly by making the city a more inviting destination.

Hopefully this article also furthers a fourth Mayor’s Vision objective, which is crystal clear communication about what the city is working to accomplish and why.

And if you’d like even more information to help you make an informed decision, my door is always open to discuss your input and questions. Thank you for your continued support and for all you do to make Boulder City such a wonderful place to live.

Rod Woodbury is mayor of Boulder City. He has been serving on the City Council since 2011 and is the president and managing shareholder of his law firm, Woodbury Law.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Candidate information vital for voters

You will notice that a majority of this week’s issue is devoted to the upcoming primary election. And rightfully so.

City serves slice of Americana while being trendy

When I was 16 years old, I wrote an essay for my English class that detailed a day spent in Boulder City with my now-husband. I will save myself the embarrassment of including actual quotes, but the essay evoked the quiet contentment that comes from a day of eating pizza, playing in the library fountain and sneaking up Radar Mountain for a sunset hike.

Come to rescue with your ideas

The city needs your help to decide how best to spend its allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds. Signed into law on March 11, 2021, ARPA established recovery funds to assist state and local governments in their response to the impacts of COVID-19.

Barneys friendship unmatched

A former co-worker said she loved her dogs more than anyone could possibly love theirs. Preposterous, I thought. When it comes to unbridled adoration of my canine companions, I have no peer. She did, however, have the best coffee cup bearing the phrase, “The more I am around people, the more I love my dogs!” Touché.

Put out welcome mat for glampers

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting brought some welcome news in the form of a proposal to build a luxury recreational vehicle resort in town.

Knowledge of today’s world may have affected election’s outcome

Here we are on what appears to be the cusp of potential financial chaos, rising interest rates, out-of-control inflation, and ever-increasing grocery and gas prices, with no end in sight. Certainly, COVID plays a role in this scenario, and the recent war within Ukraine doesn’t help matters. However, our failed leadership is the most significant component of these uncertain times.

Ability to express self doesn’t mean you should

Last week I took my 3-year-old daughter on a walk around our neighborhood. She is learning how to read and she asks me to read her every sign she sees along the way. I’m happy to read her the street names and help her spell the word “S-T-O-P.”

City’s vision makes world better place

I’ve heard the comment from citizens. “How many solar leases are we going to have in the Eldorado Valley?” It continues to be an important issue to me since I sat with the secretary of interior, as mayor, to purchase the Eldorado Valley in 1994.

Up Boulder Creek without a pad still

Tract 350 is 45 acres of city-owned land around the north and east sides of Boulder Creek golf course. In 2010, voters approved its sale for residential development. But selling and developing that land has proved elusive.

Everybody needs good luck charm

Everyone could use a good luck charm. They could help us out on those days where a little bit of extra spiritual blessing would come in handy.