The city is taking on $5.87 million in debt to fix air conditioning and heating systems at two municipal buildings, repair roads, and make improvements to the Great Falls.
Council members approved the three borrowing measures on Tuesday night.
- $3.66 million will go towards making heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) repairs at the Paterson Museum and the Frank X. Graves Public Safety Complex. These repairs were mandated by the court, according to municipal officials.
- $1.24 million will fund road resurfacing for segments of nine roadways. Municipal officials said this bond measure is not taking on new debit, but part of former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ massive road repair program. Funds are from a New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) grant added t Torres’ road resurfacing ordinance approved four years ago.
- $964,751 will fund improvements at the Great Falls.
The council approved the Great Falls bond measure in a 7-0 vote. Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman, who often opposes spending money on the Great Falls, voted in favor of the borrowing measure.
Jackson voted against the HVAC repairs at the museum and police station. He was joined by Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
“We all know the Paterson Museum is in serious disrepair,” said Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, who suggested the company that collects rent at museum ought to fund the repairs. He also wanted to know when the next court proceeding date for the museum case. The city’s chief attorney Domenick Stampone told him a court date is scheduled for May.
Council members voted 4-2-1 to approve the bond. Mendez abstained from the vote. The repairs to both buildings, by borrowing money, were previously rejected by the council.
“We still have yet to see those promises,” said Jackson, speaking on the road repair bond, referring to the former mayor’s big plan to fix all primary roadways. He said the city should spend $4 million to buy the equipment needed to resurface the roads in-house.
“We could resurface roads every other year if we had the equipment to do it ourselves,” said Jackson.
“We need a maintenance and repair plan,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, who favors the expansion of the Public Works Department. He wanted the city to purchase few patch trucks to maintain the roads.
“Unless they are maintaining the roadways, it will be in need of replacement well in advance of you paying back the bonds,” said McKoy.
Morris favored Torres’ road repair project. It was a campaign promise Torres made after hearing complaints of potholes at campaign gatherings. However, he has repeatedly warned about the city’s eroding debt capacity.
The city has racked up huge sums in debt. It has $141.11 million in outstanding debt, including the borrowings approved on Tuesday night.
The city’s debt capacity went down from $222.39 million to $81.28 million. Morris said there are expenses that loom over the city like sewer repairs, workers compensation, and other expenses.
Morris said that debt capacity could be further eroded by a drop in property values.
The road repair bond was approved in a 7-2 vote. Jackson and Morris voted against.
The nine road segments being resurfaced are:
- Dundee Avenue from East Railway Avenue to Lakeview Avenue
- Sparrow Street from River Street to North York Street
- North York Street from Lyon Street to Sassafras Street
- Danforth Avenue from McBride Avenue to Ramsey Street
- Madison Street from 20th Avenue to Cedar Street
- Thomas Street from Main Street to West Railway Avenue
- George Street from Main Street to West Railway Avenue
- 8th Avenue from Madison Avenue to Route 20.
- Alabama Avenue from East Railway Avenue to Wabash Avenue.