AUGUSTA — On Election Day, Augusta voters will be asked to borrow a little less than $1.6 million for street improvements.

Among the projects that the would be paid for by those funds is the reconstruction of Commercial Street.

That project would use $300,000 to create wider sidewalks and new, more decorative streetlights so the street fits in better aesthetically with the rest of the adjacent downtown area. It would also use money approved for the project previously, which hasn’t been spent yet because officials decided to expand the scope of the project. Initially it was planned to be a simple repaving project, but it has turned into a full reconstruction that will cost the city about $800,000 in total, according to Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager.

The project calls for rebuilding Commercial Street and will include the Greater Augusta Utility District installing new water, sewer and stormwater piping underground. That portion of the project will be funded by the utility district, not the city bond.

“At first we were just going to do an overlay on Commercial Street, but we decided to reconstruct it and do something with the sidewalks,” St. Pierre said. “We’ll widen the sidewalks, add more decorative streetlights, make it look more like Water Street so it’s more welcoming.”

If the referendum is approved, the $1,567,000 bond is not expected to require an increase in property taxes.

That’s because city officials plan to pay back the bond with revenue collected in a tax increment financing account made up of money collected on taxes paid by natural gas companies for their gas lines in Augusta.

The bond also will provide $311,000 to rebuild Columbia Street, a project that also will be coordinated with utility district officials so the district can replace underground pipes before the street is resurfaced.

The bond also would cover the $250,000 cost for a thin coating of pavement on the roads within the Augusta Business Park and at the nearby Augusta Civic Center, work that Public Works Director Lesley Jones said would preserve those roads and extend their lives.

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Murray Street would get $200,000 from the bond. Jones said the lower, western half of the street would be rebuilt; while the upper, eastern section will require less work because it was reconstructed fully roughly 30 years ago.

In addition, the bond would provide $300,000 for street repaving citywide, $140,000 to grind up and repave Cony Street, $40,000 for the city’s share of engineering work for a state and city jointly funded possible future project improving part of North Belfast Avenue, and $35,000 to reconstruct Cushnoc Drive.

The bond does not include any funding for the proposed replacement of the police station. However, another city bond, $750,000 in borrowing approved by councilors that did not require voter approval, does include funding to begin that process.

The two bonds — if the $1.6 million bond is approved by residents on Election Day — are expected to cost about $680,000 in interest, at a projected rate of 3.04 percent over up to 20 years.

Only one candidate submitted nomination papers in each municipal race — for mayor and all available City Council and Board of Education posts — so all local races on the ballot are uncontested.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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