Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem council OKs bond refinancing proposal

Measure could save the city as much as $700,000

Bethlehem City Council approved the refinancing of $17.8 million in bonds during Tuesday night's meeting.

The bonds, originally issued in 2011, were used to finance repairs on various city facilities including the municipal ice rink on Illicks Mill Road and other capital projects. Bethlehem is expected to save in the range of $700,000 range, according to Scott Shearer of Public Financial Management, the city's financial advisor.

The transaction is guaranteed to save the city at least $500,000, according to the measure passed Tuesday night.

Councilman Shawn Martell said the city "saw good results" the last time it refinanced bonds and hoped the trend would continue. Shearer said the portfolio will enter the markets in early October.

In other business, council unanimously approved a contract with Barker & Barker Paving for work on two city streets - North New Street between Raspberry Street and Elizabeth Avenue and Levering Place. The work includes the design and construction of curb ramps, removal of failed concrete gutters, tree replacement and re-applying pavement markings and line striping.

Gaver will receive $563,273 for the work. The company was the lowest of four bids received by Bethlehem, ranging from their winning bid to a high of $740,815.

Council also passed a resolution Tuesday allowing the city to file a grant proposal with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program Grant for the South Bethlehem Corridor Connections project.

The city plans to improve sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and crosswalks on various streets. Bethlehem will seek a total of $500,000 from PennDOT. The city itself is not required to offer matching funds, although they are required to provide all engineering for the project, according to Darlene Heller, the city's director of planning and zoning.

Finally, council approved the destruction of various older records that currently reside in the health bureau.

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