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City of Decatur taking steps to borrow money for Children’s Home purchase

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City of Decatur taking steps to borrow money for Children’s Home purchase

The former United Methodist Children's Home campus in Decatur. The campus is now called Legacy Park. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
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The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The city of Decatur in April signed an agreement to pay $40 million for the 77-acre United Methodist Children’s Home property on South Columbia Drive.

Now the city is in the process of obtaining the money to pay for it. The city, through its Public Facilities Authority, intends to borrow the money by issuing bonds totaling no more than $42 million. The Public Facilities Authority will vote on issuing the bonds shortly before the regular City Commission meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

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The PFA members are Cinque Axam, Robert Kennedy, Christa Sobon, Meredith Struby and Leonard Thibedeau. The PFA meeting is June 5 at 6:45 p.m. and will be held at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street. The meeting is open to the public and there will be an opportunity for public comment.

When the commission meets at 7:30 p.m., it will consider a resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement with the Public Facilities Authority pertaining to the issuance of those bonds.

The term of the bond can be up to 30 years and the interest rate cannot exceed 5 percent. If everything goes as planned, the bonds will be sold in July. The city plans to close on the property in August and UMCH plans to vacate the facility by the end of September.

Once that’s done, the city will have a large opportunity on its hands. Decatur intends to use the property as a public space and will also hold a community input process to determine the specific use of the UMCH campus. Part of it is intended to be used as green space. The city is working with the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority on a low-interest loan to pay for parts of the property that will remain undisturbed for use as a public park, according to a memo attached the City Commission meeting agenda.

The project is already having an effect on the city’s budget. The proposed 2017-2018 budget includes spending $1.2 million on debt service and operating costs for the property. The operating and maintenance costs are estimated to be $500,000.

The June 5 City Commission meeting begins with a work session on the budget at 3:45 p.m. The regular commission meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. All meetings will be held at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street and the meetings are open to the public.

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