Beaverton is moving ahead with the sale of up to $90 million in bonds for various civic purposes.
The City Council voted in a special meeting Tuesday, March 31, to proceed with the bonds so that their sale can be completed by June 30. It was a virtual meeting with Mayor Denny Doyle, the five councilors and others taking part outside their chambers in City Hall.
Of the total, $55 million will refinance projects undertaken by the Beaverton Urban Redevelopment Agency, which will repay bonds with tax-increment revenue generated from the increased value of improved property.
Of the rest, $21 million will pay for the city's share of the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, scheduled for completion in fall 2021. Up to $10 million will cover additional costs of the Public Safety Center, scheduled for completion in May, and replacement of the water fountain at Beaverton City Park. Those bonds will be repaid from budget sources other than property taxes.
"I think we are doing the right thing," Councilor Cate Arnold said. "But this is a huge amount of debt for us."
None of the bonds will be repaid from property taxes, a step that requires voter approval.
The Reser Center is named for its major donor, Patricia Reser, and her contribution of $13 million from the family foundation. Other private fundraising from foundations, businesses and individuals will account for the balance of the $46 million project, ground for which was broken Nov. 13 north of The Round/City Hall.
Lodging taxes will repay the city's share.
Some councilors raised concerns about the future flow of lodging taxes, because Washington County hotel occupancy rates have been dropping since the onset of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Finance Director Patrick O'Claire said that according to figures he obtained from the Washington County Visitors Association, bookings were down 12.4% the week of Feb. 22-29 from the same period last year; 17.6% down March 1-7, 26.1% down March 8-14, and 51.3% down March 15-21. For April, May and June, he said, WCVA has advised him that the total is projected to drop by 80%.
However, O'Claire said the city has a large lodging-tax reserve that should enable it to pay debt service on the revenue bond for the first year. Lodging taxes also will pay a share of operating costs for the center when it opens in 2021.
The Public Safety Center at the southwest corner of Hall and Allen boulevards is financed by a $35 million bond that city voters approved in 2016. Inflation in construction costs has caused the project to be short by several million dollars.
What the city plans to do is extend a bond it originally issued in 2013 to pay for improvements in The Beaverton Building, which the city bought in 2012 and began to use as City Hall in 2014.
The final payment on the original $7 million bond is scheduled in October.
The new bond will cover the overrun on the Public Safety Center.
It also will give the council the option to spend up to $3 million for the replacement of the water fountain at Beaverton City Park on Southwest 5th Street. The fountain dates back to 2001 and was paid for from the bond that city voters approved for the current Beaverton City Library in 1998.
City staff members have completed a design, but the council has not proceeded with the project. The fountain operates seasonally with the opening and closing of the Beaverton Farmers Market.
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