MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 12, 2013

City out to finance flood control projects

One east side detention pond already under construction

City officials are shopping for a finance package that would allow them to move forward with two projects on Muskogee’s east side, where flooding has been a problem for years.

Work has begun on the first of two detention basins planned to alleviate flooding in neighborhoods. The $1.22 million Chandler Road detention basin is being built on an 11-acre tract southeast of the York Street and Chandler Road intersection.

The second project, which would be delayed for some time without a finance package, will include the construction of a detention basin on a five-acre tract north of Chandler Road between Anthony Street and David Lane near Elliot Street. Public Works Director Mike Stewart said that project could be completed at an estimated cost of $2.3 million to $2.7 million.

Both projects are part of a comprehensive drainage plan designed to catch and collect stormwater runoff. The stormwater then flows out through smaller pipes, reducing the risk of downstream flooding.

The projects are being funded from revenues generated by impervious surface and stormwater fees assessed to address drainage problems and similar issues. The fee  generates about $396,000 a year, but that amount is expected to rise to about $1.1 million per year when the graduated fee caps out in January.

“If we only relied on that fee, it would take an inordinate amount of time to get these projects done,” Interim City Manager Roy Tucker said. “What we are looking at is going out and shopping for a finance package so we can move on both projects more quickly.”

Tucker said $600,000 has been budgeted to service the debt incurred by the issuance of an estimated $3.75 million note. The city would pledge a portion of the impervious surface fee fund to pay off the note during the course of about 10 years.

Rick Smith of Municipal Finance Services said interest rates have been going up. Earlier this year, interest rates ranged from 2.4 percent to 2.5 percent. Those rates have increased about a half-point to 2.9 percent and 3 percent on a 10-year note, but Smith said even those rates are historically low.

Tucker said Smith is scheduled to bring a proposal to city councilors Sept. 23. At councilors’ insistence, Smith was instructed to bring back proposals for a seven-year note and a 10-year note.

Flooding problems on the city’s east side began to crop up during the late 1980s and early ’90s with the widening of York Street. Commercial and residential development along both sides of Chandler Road and York Street exacerbated the problem by increasing stormwater runoff.

Stewart said earlier this year that both detention basins will not only prevent flooding, they could open up properties for development.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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