Friday, August 17, 2007

'Pass through toll' agreement gives Weatherford a costly balloon payment

Pass-through toll costs more than double

August 17, 2007

Christina Childs
Christin Coyne
The Weatherford Democrat
Copyright 2007

Weatherford may be spending more than estimated on the pass-through toll projectapproximately $8 million more than the $7 million first proposed in 2005.

According to acting City Manager Jennifer Fadden, the pass-through toll project is a major undertaking and combines a variety of improvement projects where the City will work hand-in-hand with the Texas Department of Transportation to create a better Weatherford.

The City entered into a contract with TxDOT in November 2005 to construct improvements on State-of-Texas highways within the Weatherford city limits,” Fadden said. “It involves numerous roads. It’s not just one kind of project.

“It’s going to create improvements on state highways in Weatherford that would have not been done otherwise.”

In May, the City Council authorized the issuance of certificates of obligation, which allowed the city to borrow approximately $46.5 million toward funding the projects.

According to the proposed 2007-08 city budget, the total repayment of principal plus interest in 15 years on the 2007 certificates of obligation would equal $67.7 million.

However, according to the pass-through toll agreement, TxDOT will only reimburse Weatherford $5.2 million annually for up to a total of approximately $52.4 million.

In 2005, Mayor Joe Tison told the Democrat, “the City’s direct cost contribution to the project will only be $7 million of the total cost.”

The required payment amount per year on the 2007 certificates of obligation also more than doubles in 2013. In 2008, and until 2013, the City is only required to make payments of $2.8 million or less per year. In 2013, the required payment jumps to approximately $6 million for the next nine years and nearly doubles the City’s total annual debt service requirements from 2012.

Terry Hughes, director of community development, said the city has not yet recalculated the total project costs estimate since the original estimate of approximately $42 million.

As of press time, Fadden said Tison was out of state and a clarification of the increased cost to the City could not be attained at that time.

The pass-through toll project will impact the tax rate increase by a total of two-and-a-half cents, according to Fadden.

Christina Childs:

Christin Coyne:

© 2007 The Weatherford Democrat:

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