City officials OK $67.7 million in bond issues More approvals needed

school repairs included

November 30, 1995|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Future bond issues worth $67.7 million to repair schools, spur home ownership and revitalize the Howard Street corridor received unanimous approval yesterday from Baltimore's top officials.

The approval by the Board of Estimates of bond issues worth $34.4 million for fiscal 1998 and $33.3 million in fiscal 1999 still must gain the nods of the city's legislative delegation and the City Council to be put before voters in November. If approved by a majority of voters, the money could be spent beginning in July 1997.

A two-year bond package is being proposed because 1997 is not an election year.

The bond issues approved yesterday total slightly more than a quarter of the $247.9 million requested by city agencies for the two years. Baltimore's finance department recommends a $45 million limit on all debt, based on the city's ability to afford repayment.

"It's fiscally a fairly conservative program, but it's broad-based as well," said Israel Patoka, a planning department official who oversees the city's capital improvement program.

The largest item in the package is $5.3 million for the fiscal year that begins in July 1997 for renovations and upgrades at Mergenthaler Vo-Tech High School in Northeast Baltimore. A further $1.5 million is slated for the next fiscal year for equipment for the school.

Also proposed is $3 million in each of the two years to fund a Settlement Expense Loan Program. The 2-year-old program, which lends money for closing costs, is credited with putting over 1,200 buyers into city houses.

Another $2 million a year is earmarked for artist housing and revitalization of Howard Street -- part of a new city effort to breathe life into the long-abandoned commercial district.

And $2 million over two years is slated to be spent on economic development in the Carroll Industrial Park, in Southwest Baltimore, and Fairfield, near Brooklyn. Both industrial areas are in Baltimore's multimillion-dollar federal empowerment zone, which seeks to revitalize dilapidated sections of the city.

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