Conway finalizes financing for new public safety building

The Conway City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that will raise the remaining $1.25 million the city needs for the construction of a new public safety building on Ninth Avenue.

The new money will come through a refinancing of bonds the city sold in 2005 for the construction of the Riverwalk. A total of $1.9 million is remaining on that debt, to which the city will add $1.26 million devoted to the public safety building. Bond issuance costs of $12,000 are to be paid from the new bond proceeds.

The refinancing will save the city money as the new bonds are to be sold at a maximum interest of 3.5 percent, 0.6 percent below the 4.1 percent interest the city has been paying on the ’05 bonds, said Michael Hardee, city finance director.

City administrator Bill Graham said the new public safety building is projected to cost $5 million, of which $3.6 million was allocated from the unreserved fund balance in this year’s budget. Graham said the city will use $1.25 million of the new bond for construction and add $150,000 from hospitality fee reserve funds to complete financing for the new building.

Conway police chief Reggie Gosnell said his department has 63 employees and just 10 offices in its Laurel Street facility.

“A lot of those (offices) have three or four people in them,” he said.

The new facility also will replace the city’s fire station number one on Fourth Avenue.

City Councilman Tom Anderson said the city has not yet decided what it will do with the current police and fire buildings when the new facility is complete.

Councilman Larry White said the new facility will be on the site of the old Conway hospital, which will have to be torn down for the public safety building’s construction.