Thursday, August 10, 2017

City commissioners may finalize field house bond, OK Winter Haven Municipal Airport (KGIF) master plan

WINTER HAVEN — City commissioners could finalize a $25 million bond that would fund the Chain of Lakes master plan on Monday.

The master plan includes a state-of-the-art field house that is intended to be used as both business and recreational space, and serve as the practice home of the G-league’s Lakeland Magic. The commission voted last month to lock in an interest rate of 3.07 percent with CenterState Bank over 20 years.

Polk County will be buying $10 million worth of the bonds.

The city will pay just interest for the first year, but must find revenues to repay the principal of the $15 million in bonds it is buying for the remaining 19 years. That will be done by tax increases, special assessments, budget cuts or a combination of those things.

“I don’t know how we’re going to pay it back over the next 20 years,” Commissioner Pete Chichetto said at a workshop Wednesday night. “I can’t support this.”

With interest, the city and county are expected to combine to pay about $35 million over the next 20 years with the city footing about $21 million of the bill.


The commission may adopt the master plan for the Winter Haven Municipal Airport at Monday’s meeting. The plan prepared by AVCON would add about 160 new hangars over the next 20 years.

In total, the projects listed in the plan add up to about $39 million, but through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and Florida Department of Transportation, the city would only be on the hook for about $6 million.

Chichetto again had concerns.

“We say we’re going to do all these projects over 20 years and we’re currently funding the airport out of the general fund,” he said. “That’s probably not going to change anytime soon.”

Airport Director Leo Treggi said, if funding became difficult on the city’s part, it could work with FAA and FDOT to delay some of the projects.

“There’s always a way to renegotiate these projects,” City Manager Mike Herr said. “This doesn’t put us on the hook for $40 million. Adopting the master plan just says we’re committed to the vision.”


The City Commission is slated to listen to the first reading of ordinances that would move the city one step closer to changing the charter.

Assistant City Attorney Drew Crawford said changes that make the charter’s language gender neutral and clarify surety bond requirements would not need to go before the voters in November, but each of the 10 others the commission accepted would have to as separate issues.

“It’s going to be a lengthy ballot,” Crawford said.

Those changes include setting policies on how to address commission vacancies, increasing maximum purchase amounts that could be made without going out to bid and mandating that charter reviews be done every 10 years beginning in 2030.

The one recommendation neglected by the commission was making the city clerk an appointment of the city manager rather than the commission.

Though the committee did not recommend implementing term limits, the City Commission decided at the last meeting that it was something it wanted to move forward with.

Crawford said an ordinance has been prepared that would set the limit at 12 years or three terms and commissioners could run again after taking two years off.

“From there, your clock starts over,” Crawford said.

If accepted by the commission, that also would go to a referendum in November. For current commissioners, that tenure would not start until they were re-elected. Up for re-election in November are Mayor Steven Hunnicutt and Commissioner Brad Dantzler.


Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Fuller Auditorium at City Hall, 451 Third St. NW.

Original article can be found here ➤

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