By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — City leaders on Tuesday will finalize plans to restructure $18.5 million in debt to finance future projects and pay for infrastructure expansion.
Even with the shift, debt per capita in Wausau is projected at $2,047 by Dec. 31, 2017, significantly higher than some cities of similar size. Debt per capita in La Crosse, by contrast, is projected at $1,263. In Green Bay, that figure is $1,332.
According to Finance Director MaryAnn Groat, the city will take competitive bids for $11.9 million in water and revenue sewer bonds to refinance outstanding state trust fund loans and provide capital financing for “certain projects.” An additional $6.6 million in taxable bond anticipation notes, or BANs, would be used for infrastructure improvements at the city’s Business Campus.
Bond anticipation notes are smaller short-term bonds that are issued by corporations and governments, such as local municipalities wishing to generate funds for upcoming projects and bridge funding gaps. The city’s overall debt would not change, but restructuring would allow for increased borrowing capacity.
The move is meant to shift debt from the city’s statutory debt limit, which climbed to record highs in 2017 after the city issued more than $19 million in new debt this year. The restructuring proposal was first floated in May.
These changes mean that Wausau expects to have $84 million in outstanding debt by Dec. 31 of this year, representing 50.47 percent of the city’s debt limit, according to city budget documents. The city’s statutory debt limit is typically held to below 50 percent.
Debt continues to fall in neighboring Weston, where debt per capita dropped by nearly 16 percent in 2016 to $2,554 and is projected to drop even further in 2017. Estimates show the village will carry a per capita debt of $2,060 by the end of the year.
The restructuring plan will first be reviewed by the finance committee this evening before moving to the full council. Both groups meet this evening at Wausau City Hall.