Gladstone mulls how to finance new City Hall/police station
Gladstone officials are grappling with how to pay for their new City Hall/police station on Portland Avenue.
With the library project also being considered, City Administrator Jacque Betz noted during a Feb. 21 work session that it's rare that you have two civic buildings to finance at the same time. A complicating factor is that Gladstone charter amendments passed in 2012 required authorization from voters for city projects using debt or over $1 million.
In 2015, voters approved funding sources for the then-estimated $11.2 million civic complex (now estimated at $12.8 million). The measure told voters that funding sources for the new City Hall/police station would include $3 million from "sale of certain city properties" and another $3 million from "debt to be repaid using future Urban Renewal Agency funds."
"Sale of certain city properties" is no longer on the table. Two city councilors were recalled last year in part for their willingness to consider selling Gladstone Nature Park in order to fund the civic buildings.
"The $3 million is where we run into a limitation in terms of funding," City Attorney David Doughman said. "It would be a matter of borrowing against future urban-renewal agency limits."
Prior to going into a closed-door executive session with city councilors Feb. 21, Doughman talked about petitioning Clackamas County Circuit Court for an interpretation on the intent of voters. If a judge said that the $3 million was not a ceiling, the city could safely access more Urban Renewal Agency borrowing power.
"It's [petitioning the court is] candidly not the most attractive option," Doughman said during the open part of the meeting.
Also prior to going into the closed-door part of the meeting, Betz said that she was confident that urban-renewal funds could cover the difference without any new taxes or new votes.
"Our city has never really incurred debt before, and we're ripe for that," Betz said. "We're healthy enough to do debt service for 10 to 15 years and still have money left over for future projects in urban renewal."
City councilors reviewed an option that would take out more than $5 million in urban-renewal cash reserves. Financial consultants to the city said that they would be refining numbers in the coming weeks.