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Published: Wednesday, 3/23/2005

Perrysburg's debt ceiling to increase

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Perrysburg City Council plans this year to improve Municipal Park, expand the wastewater treatment plant, improve drainage along State Rt. 25 - and increase the city's debt load by more than $1 million.

The city will spend an estimated $31.7 million using revenue sources of $35.2 million, Finance Director Dave Creps said. The council approved the 2005 budget last week.

The city's debt will grow because the city is borrowing more money than it is paying off to finance several major projects. By the end of the year, the city will have an estimated $26.9 million in debt.

Mr. Creps said the debt falls into three main categories:

●debt from improvements to Way Public Library, which is supported by a levy;

●debt from upgrades to water and sewer systems, which is paid for by water and sewer fees;

●$11 million in debt that is paid for by the city's general fund. Most of the general fund debt resulted from construction of the $7.9 million police station, which opened in August, and improvements at Municipal Park.

"Twenty-seven million dollars is a lot of debt," Mr. Creps said. "Yeah, I'm concerned, but we knew we were going to put ourselves in this position before we built the police station."

Councilman Liz Larson-Shidler, chairman of council's finance committee, said the committee will be discussing what to do about the city's debt in the coming months. She is working with administrators to compare Perrysburg's debt load to cities of similar size to get a better idea of how serious the problem might be.

"We do run a pretty lean city budget, but we've gotten into the habit of paying down a little bit of debt and then moving on to another project," she said.

Major expenses in this year's budget include $1.3 million of improvements to Municipal Park. The project, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in August, will include construction of a new concession stand and recreation program offices, reconfiguring two baseball diamonds, and replacing the smallest baseball diamond with a parking lot.

The city also plans to spend $3.9 million on sewer construction and combined sewer separation and $2.1 million on expansion of the city's wastewater treatment plant.

"Those projects facilitate the city's growth," Mr. Creps said.

He said another project scheduled for later this year that will allow new development is improvements to the drainage system along State Rt. 25. These improvements will cost about $740,000.

Ms. Larson-Shidler said council members want to find a way to pay off some of the city's debt while still having funds to expand infrastructure to serve new residents and businesses.



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