Zachary moves to borrow $10 milion to improve roads

The City Council decided Tuesday to start the process of borrowing $10 million for road improvements.

The council agreed unanimously to ask the State Bond Commission for permission to bond up to $10 million for not more than 17 years at a rate of less than 7 percent interest.

Bond attorney Jerry Osborne told the council that the money would be paid back to the lender using the city’s share of the parish’s half-cent road tax revenues. A lender has not yet been identified, though he said that discussions were underway with at least one bank.

Osborne, a lawyer with Foley & Judell of New Orleans, will handle legal issues involved with borrowing the money.

In the event that the tax does not generate enough money to pay back the bond amount, the city will have to use “other funds that are legally available,” Osborne said.

Mayor David Amhrein said that tax revenue would almost certainly be sufficient. “We’re only asking to bond 60 to 65 percent of the revenue,” he said.

When the council discussed the possible road bond in February, the mayor said that the priority would be traffic safety. Improving safety on Church Street in front of LeBlanc’s Supermarket and the intersection of La. 64 and La. 964 (Old Scenic Highway) would be part of the project.

Zachary’s land use plan also identifies streets that should be improved, he said.

Since voters agreed to amend the home rule charter in the October election, borrowing road improvement money does not require voter approval if a funding source already is established.

If the State Bond Commission approves the city’s request, an ordinance would be brought before the council for approval and an interest rate should be available by then, Osborne said.

Other matters before the council included:

DOOR-TO-DOOR: The council unanimously agreed to consider a proposed ordinance that would require peddlers and door-to-door salespeople to obtain temporary occupational licenses from the city at a cost of $250 each. City attorney John Hopewell said the city had recently received complaints about peddlers and door-to-door sales activities.

FALL FEST: The council gave its support to a proposed fall festival to benefit Lane Regional Medical Center.

Lane CEO Randy Olson told the council that the hospital is building a radiation oncology center on McHugh Road and Main Street in Zachary.

The company that provides the carnival for ZFest offered to bring it back in the fall to benefit construction of the new center, he said.

Frank Ragsdale, chairman of the Lane Foundation, said that $25,000 could potentially by raised by the festival, which would be held in late October or early November.