Salem moves toward appropriating $5.1 million for improvements

Salem City Council Monday night took steps to appropriate up to $5.1 million for capital improvements ranging from a radio system upgrade to replacing the roof on the Salem Civic Center.

Council authorized issuance and sale of General Obligation Public Improvement Bonds for 15 long-needed projects. The radio system upgrade, at $2.65 million, is the biggest on the list.

No one spoke at the public hearing. In a work session before the meeting, councilmembers expressed appreciation to Courtney Rodgers of Davenport & Co. for helping the city get such a good rate from Sterling National Bank for the bonds, 3.23 percent. Bonds can be repaid after five years, Rodgers said.

Projects on the list include replacing the back-stop pads for Mowyer softball fields – which is being held until 2022 – with an F250 truck with a snowplow that Salem Streets Department desperately needs, Director of Finance Rosie Jordan told council.

That year Parks & Recreation Director John Shaner has not bid on any tournaments for the complex, so work can be done, Interim Salem City Manager Jay Taliaferro reminded council.

The city’s Audit & Finance Committee and city staff have been through the proposed list defining what is critical and non-critical, Councilmember James Martin said.

The largest project planned, the radio system upgrade, would allow Salem to have a much better system so that city representatives can talk with other localities in times of crisis, Jordan explained.

Other projects planned, in the works or recently completed are:

  • Spartan Field Turf Field for $506,019 – now completed, Taliaferro said.
  • Oakey’s Field lighting upgrade at $315,000;
  • Replacing the barrel roof of the Salem Civic Center, at $265,000;
  • Rear load garbage truck at $230,000;
  • A dump truck over 26,000 pounds, estimated cost $155,000, that can also be used in snow to salt and plow;
  • A knuckle boom truck bulk loader at $150,000;
  • Civic Center lighting upgrades at $141,750;
  • And smaller projects including a mowing tractor, smaller dump truck, replacing a 50-ton air-conditioning unit at city hall and a cooling system chiller.

It was Taliaferro’s second meeting in his new position, after being appointed at the Jan. 28 council meeting. He has been assistant city manager before this and stepped up after council asked for and received the resignation of 11-year-city manager Kevin Boggess earlier in January. That was a split vote of 3-2, with reasons given of wanting to go in a different direction.

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