Our biennial capital plan is much more than numbers on a sheet of paper. It’s a chance to show real commitment to investing in priorities for future growth.
The borrowing approved by the South Milwaukee City Council Tuesday night is no different.
The council voted unanimously to borrow more than $7.9 million for a variety of projects ranging from road repairs and equipment purchases to energy efficiency and downtown revitalization. Among the items where money has been earmarked the next two years:
- More than $2.5 million for road and other engineering projects, including $450,000 to be put toward the nearly $1 million cost to completely rebuild — roadway and utilities — the stretch of Chicago Avenue from north of the Oak Creek bridge to Pine Street. Work is expected to take place this summer.
- Almost $2.5 million for various water, wastewater and stormwater utility projects, as we continue to upgrade our aging underground infrastructure;
- Up to $340,000 for the purchase of LED lighting for municipal buildings, and for a pilot program in partnership with We Energies to use LEDs in select streetlights across the city — a significant investment in energy efficiency that has the potential to yield big savings over time;
- $250,000 for Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping, allowing us to hit the ground running with a significant investment in our city center once our downtown plan in delivered in coming months;
- $150,000 for the next round of fiber optic connectivity;
- $75,000 for urban forestry — money that we’ll use to invest in tree replanting efforts and the start of our long-range tree planting program; and
- $70,000 for rebranding work, as we look to partner with an outside agency to develop a new visual identity for South Milwaukee — and then look to bring that identity to life through opportunities like websites, new street signage and more.
It’s worth noting that each of the projects contemplated in the borrowing will still need council approval, but passage of this plan is significant because it funds them. Without borrowing the money now, it would be another two years before we could even think about undertaking some of this important work. And we don’t have time to wait.
Of course, we’re doing this responsibly.
At the same time we’re borrowing these funds, we’re retiring another approximately $6 million in debt. And we’re getting this money cheaply — our strong Aa2 bond rating, the result of years of sound financial management and responsible budgeting, allows us access to very low interest rates (just over 2% on a 10-year note in this case).
As always, we will spend this money wisely, and make key investments in better days ahead. That starts now.