General obligation bonds recently awarded by the City of Lawton will help cover the costs of street upgrades planned in residential neighborhoods.

The City Council has put its formal stamp of approval on a plan for 12 streets projects that have been identified in the latest round of work funded through the 2017 Ad Valorem Street Improvement Program. City voters agreed in early 2017 to keep the City of Lawton’s annual ad valorem rate at 10.5 mills, with additional funding (meaning, revenue not needed for existing debts) designated to residential streets and arterials projects during each of the 13 years of the program. The most recent designation estimated $6.7 million worth of street work in 12 identified projects that represent all eight council wards.

In mid-November, the council approved the plans and specifications for that street work, meaning city staff was free to begin soliciting bids from interested construction firms. At the same meeting, council members designated Robert W. Baird as the winning bidder for its $6.3 million general obligation bond series, a 10-year program that will be the city’s third issuance under the 2017 Ad Valorem program, the city’s bond counsel said. Baird agreed to a 1.4849 percent interest rate.

The council also voted by a 7-1 margin (Ward 2 Councilman Keith Jackson voted no) to set the ordinance into place that will allow the bond counsel and staff to issue the general obligation bonds.

In all, the ad valorem program is expected to generate $55.3 million over its lifetime, with all funding designated for either construction or designs for street work that has been identified as priorities by council members for their individual wards, and city streets/Public Works staff for the city at large. While the program will provide funding to arterial projects such as rebuilding South Sheridan Road and Southwest 38th Street south of West Lee Boulevard, it also will allow the city to upgrade deteriorating residential streets.

General obligation bonds will be issued for each year of the program, in varying amounts, to keep pace with those projects. Ad valorem revenue will be used to pay off that bond debt.

The 2019 GO series will be dated Dec. 1, 2019, and will become due and bear interest on a yearly basis. As specified in the ordinance, that would mean $700,000 annually maturing on Dec. 1 between 2021 and 2029. When the city created the program, it intended to set 10-year maturity dates on most of the GO bond series.

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