Monday, June 23, 2003

Upgrade of Fairfield bond rating to save $250,000 in next 20 years

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - City officials are thrilled their bond rating recently improved, saving taxpayers up to $250,000 in total interest over the next 20 years.

The rating will allow this city known for having a strong financial position to issue bonds at a lower rate of interest.

In particular, the savings will help as the city borrows money to build a community center, which is expected to break ground in September, said Jim Hanson, the city's finance director.

"The bond rating is super," Fairfield City Councilman Mark Scharringhausen said. "It will save the taxpayers $250,000 saving total interest. That's money in the bank."

Meanwhile, Fairfield's tax base is expected to continue growing as the city undergoes a face lift and enjoys being part of the burgeoning development in southern Butler County, according to an analyst report by Moody's Investors Service on the city.

In other Fairfield developments, city leaders are expecting complaints from dozens of residents rocked by the recent flooding at today's 7 p.m. council meeting.

More than 300 homes were damaged in the June 14-15 floods in Butler County - including 100 alone in Fairfield, where damages were estimated at about $1.5 million, according to Fire Chief Don Bennett.

It was the worst flooding in Fairfield since the 1979 flood that damaged 200 homes and businesses, causing more than $1 million in damage.

Most homes affected by flooding in Butler sustained minor damages, such as flooded basements, county officials have said.

But Fairfield was hit especially hard because rains arrived in Hamilton County first, and then drained into Fairfield's Pleasant Run Creek before the storms swept over to Fairfield.

Also, some Fairfield neighborhoods were built in low-lying areas, especially those near Pleasant Run Creek.

A subdivision was built next to the creek in the early 1970s - before flood plain maps were available - so there wasn't a way for the city to stop development in these areas.

In recent years, Fairfield has spent $10 million to build two retention basins to address flooding problems from the creek, and city officials say there's not much more they can do.

"We've run out of technical solutions," Scharringhausen said. "It's the best it's going to be. Now, the emphasis is going to be when it does happen making sure we respond as quickly as possible and help people as quickly as we can."

City Council also is expected to finally vote tonight whether to put the justice center location issue on the fall ballot.

The measure likely will not muster enough votes, so a resident referendum appears imminent.



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