The Town of New Paltz has a credit rating for the first time, and municipal officials jumped on the opportunity to get a rock-bottom rate on the bond to convert a warehouse at 59 North Putt Corners Road into a courthouse and police station. Matt Eyler, the consultant who has been guiding the process of replacing the aging courthouse and expensive police lease, gave the news during the September 17 town board meeting.
The original plan, Eyler recounted, had been to borrow the money via two bond-anticipation notes and then make a bond offer. Because interest rates are so low, it was decided that securing the bond earlier could save taxpayers money. That will pay off: Eyler said that the project budget presumed interest as high as three-and-a-half percent, but the rate locked in was only 1.61 percent. That represents $1.8 million that won’t need to be paid in interest over the next 20 years.
Supervisor Neil Bettez praised town comptroller Jean Gallucci for being prepared to answer the questions raised by Moody’s analysts, who settled on the favorable rating of AA3. Bettez believes this was achieved only because Gallucci has implemented more stringent financial controls than are typical for a government of this size. The supervisor said that this has made Gallucci “enemies,” but Bettez is certainly not among them.
The plans for the building are nearly final. A second floor will be installed inside the warehouse shell using additional load-bearing walls. The structure also needs to be “stiffened.” While it’s up to the standards for ordinary buildings, structures housing services like these need to be even more resilient to protect against natural disasters.
Bettez successfully pushed for spaces that can be used more often than once or twice a week. The courtroom and jury rooms will be available as meeting space.
Interior construction can proceed thrugh the winter, although pandemic-related safety protocols will need to be observed. With bid documents to be released soon, contractors could be on the job by December and the building finished by July. Bids on exterior work such as landscaping may be broken out and addressed at a later time.