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Paying for city hall project: Q&A with finance director

Rendering courtesy of the city of Columbia
This week the city issued $26.8 million in bonds to finance the new city hall building at Eighth Street and Broadway.

Correction appended

On Monday, the Columbia City Council approved the sale of about $26.8 million worth of special obligation bonds to pay for the city hall expansion and renovation project, which includes a new five-story city hall addition and a renovation of the Daniel Boone Building.

After the council’s decision in 2002 to move forward with expanding and consolidating city offices downtown, the city began earmarking $700,000 a year for that purpose. In an interview with the Tribune, Finance Director Lori Fleming answered some questions about the project’s financing:


How much will the city hall expansion and renovation project cost?

"Looking at what’s left to be done, since some smaller projects have been included, the total project is estimated to cost about $24,927,000," Fleming said. "That’s what we anticipate we’ll spend by the end of this program. Included in that is previously completed architect and design work as well as a 10 percent contingency amount."

The city paid off its general obligation debt in 2002 and began saving about $700,000 a year for the project to renovate the government center. Is that money available now?

"All of it has been spent on city office space projects," Fleming said. "We’ve had building projects going on for quite a while." Those projects include acquiring city land for the new city hall building and renovating the Howard and Gentry buildings downtown. The Howard building renovation cost about $2 million, and the Gentry building renovation cost about $1.1 million. Additionally, the city spent nearly $2 million on Phase 1 of the Boone building renovations to complete the lobby, finance and customer service areas.

How will the city pay for the city hall expansion and renovation project then?

The city sold $26,795,000 in special obligation bonds Monday to UBS Securities LLC at an interest rate of 4.3566 percent. That amount is more than the estimated project cost, Fleming said, to pay for the cost of issuance and a debt service reserve. Fleming said she estimates the annual debt payments, including interest, to be around $2 million.

To pay off those bonds and the interest, the city will use the $700,000 from the property taxes as well as charging lease fees for the departments that occupy the buildings. This means the difference will come from lease fees of enterprise departments that receive revenue from user fees or rate charges.

Reach Kat Hughes at (573) 815-1713 or

SECOND THOUGHTS: Monday, May 12, 2008

A story Friday about the financing of city hall incorrectly reported the winning bid for the city’s special obligation bonds used to fund the project. Wachovia Bank was the lowest bidder, with an interest rate of 4.3101 percent.





Copyright © 2008 The Columbia Daily Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

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