MADEIRA BEACH — The city is expected to take the final plunge Tuesday to sell $4 million in bonds to finance part of the $9.9 million price tag for a new city hall, fire station and recreational complex.
The cost is nearly $1 million more than originally expected due to higher bond rates and the recently discovered poor soil conditions that will require pilings to support the new municipal structures.
The remainder of the cost — up to $5.9 million — will be funded with city reserves, which will result in the delay or elimination of spending on some projects.
"We are looking at the building designs and trying to shave costs, cutting down the size of offices, meeting rooms, the number of sidewalks and even utility lighting," City Manager Shane Crawford said Friday.
Plans to build a multimillion dollar high-and-dry boat storage facility at the marina are on the back shelf.
The city is also drastically cutting back plans to bury utility lines along Gulf Boulevard.
"We won't be doing it all," Crawford said. "We will bury the east-west wires and clean up and make the road presentable."
A group of city residents unsuccessfully argued against the bond validation. But the bond financing received court approval on Aug. 30 for up to a maximum of $6.4 million.
The court ruled that the residents' claims were insufficient to halt the bond issue.
The residents, who earlier had threatened they might seek a referendum to stop the project, argued primarily about aspects of the project, not the validity of the financing process, according to Circuit Court Judge Anthony Rondolino.
His ruling could be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, but Crawford said such action must be taken within 30 days and is "unlikely to happen."
However, the bond issue financing could be automatically stopped if preset funding and cost limits are exceeded.
Officials want to spend no more than $300,000 a year for the next 30 years to finance the projects. The bonds will be paid off using nonproperty tax revenues, such as public service and franchise fees, along with Penny for Pinellas funds.
During the bond issue process, the city will be completing architectural and engineering designs. A public presentation is expected by mid October, followed by hearings and a formal commission vote on the project design.
If everything goes according to plan, the bond financing will be completed by mid to late October and ground-breaking on the city hall, fire station and recreational complex will likely occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The municipal project will take about a year to complete. The existing city hall and fire station will continue to operate during that time, but eventually will be torn down.