City Roundup: Bonds move forward for city civic center

Progress on the City of Sequim’s new civic center inched forward Monday night after city councilors approved the next ordinance in the bonding process.


The city’s transportation plan got a little clearer, too, along with new regulations on garage and shed heights for new development.


Bring out your bonds

Advertising just began to promote the City of Sequim’s municipal bonds, set for upward of $11 million, to help pay for the joint city hall and police station construction.


Elray Konkel, the city’s administrative services director, said the bonds will be in $5,000 denominations written by D.A. Davidson & Co. of Port Angeles, and he’s confident they will sell well.


The $11 million will pay for the civic center along with $2.5 million from general government funds — including the public safety tax funds — and $2.5 million from utilities.


At this point, Konkel said, the project estimate is between $15 million and $15.5 million.


City councilors are set to make final approval for ordinances pertaining to the bonds at their July 22 meeting.


The loan is set with the city for 30 years with plans to repay it at $660,000 a year.


Steve Burkett, Sequim City Manager, said the only thing that would increase debt service is interest rates going up, likely from another economic recession.


He said if that happened, the city might have to cut back on the project in some way.


The bond market surged earlier this year, Konkel said, but it hasn’t returned to what it was last year.


He was concerned two weeks ago when the market lapsed 1.2 percent over a month.


The city bonds’ final pricing is set for July 25.


This week, the city plans to send Konkel, Burkett, Mayor Ken Hays, Police Chief Bill Dickinson, Accounting Manager Sue Hagner and Annette Sommers, a consultant with Seattle Northwest Securities, to a bond-rating presentation with Standard and Poor’s in San Francisco.


Konkel said they’ll present for two hours for a credit rating they should receive by July 17 or 18.


“The City of Sequim has never borrowed money in the open market before. The only debt occurred outside of water and sewer was for Keeler Park with Cashmere Bank,” Konkel said. “We’re new to this market.”


On July 15, city councilors determine which three agencies they want to consider for the design-build process. They’ll tentatively choose a contractor and developer by October and break ground in January.



Transportation Plan

A comprehensive transportation work list more than a year in the making was approved unanimously by city councilors Monday night.


Fehr & Peers of Seattle developed a plan, with feedback from community members, for pedestrian and vehicle transportation in one-six year and seven-20 year time frames. Paul Haines, public works director, said they are waiting for next year’s budget before they set a timeline for the projects in 2013-2014.


Projects range from an estimated $5,000 for intersection improvements at U.S. Highway 101 and Simdars Road to $2.9 million connecting South Seventh Avenue from McCurdy Road to Reservoir Road.


Annually, the city receives about $500,000 from the Transportation Benefit District, and $1 million to $1.2 million from the streets fund for this type of projects, along with grants.


In the six-year plan, two projects with the Olympic Discovery Trail realignment and completion in the city cost an estimated $90,000, whereas ADA sidewalk improvements on Fir street and Washington Street cost about $182,000.


A few new signals are slated for a handful intersections at spots such as Prairie Street and South Sequim Avenue, U.S. Highway 101 and South Sequim Avenue, and Fir Street and South Sequim Avenue.

City Engineer David Garlington said they plan to meet with the Sequim School District about the best options for a signal near the schools.  


Also included are road realignments, improvements and a connectivity study to improve east-west connections from Brown Road to Rhodefer Road ($50,000).


The 20-year projects cost an estimated $19.3 million, including bike projects, pedestrian projects, intersection improvements, roadway enhancements and new roadways.


Garages on par with houses

Future garages in residential neighborhoods likely won’t exceed the height of homes from now on following a unanimous vote from city councilors.


They approved the change to the zoning code following neighbors’ complaints near Carrie Blake Park about a large garage that exceeded the height of the residents’ home.


Accessory structures over 10 feet tall cannot be wider than 40 percent of the property’s width and cannot exceed the home’s roof or 18 feet. However, one foot in height can be added for every four feet of setback from the side and rear property to a maximum of 35 feet.


Prior to the changes, the zoning code allowed sheds and other accessory buildings to be twice the height and about five times the width of a home in residential single-family and multi-family zoned areas.


Chris Hugo, director of community development, said he found a great disconnect between development standards for garages in that neighborhood and that the changes are practical.


Shoreline Master Plan on hold

Final approval for Sequim’s roughly 2.5 mile Shoreline Master Plan is on hold again as the city awaits a letter of acceptance from the Department of Ecology. Council plans to continue its public hearing on July 22.


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