Westerville City Council could vote to issue more than $10-million in bonds this year.

Westerville City Council could vote to issue more than $10-million in bonds this year.

Council heard the first reading of four pieces of legislation at its Jan. 18 meeting that, if approved, would allow the city to issue a total of $10.43-million in bonds for various city projects.

The largest portion of that amount would be $5.8-million in bonds to fund upgrades to Westerville's electrical systems, which would include the rollout of advanced metering infrastructure for the city.

In September, council decided against seeking an overhaul of the electrical system that included replacing existing electrical meters throughout the city with digital "smart meters." The city had received a $4.3-million federal grant to help with the $10.7-million cost of that overhaul.

At that time, city council asked the staff to look at a gradual rollout of an advanced metering system, beginning by offering the technology to local businesses on a volunteer basis.

The $5.8-million in bonds would cover the cost of installing the first phase of the advanced metering infrastructure, new streetlights, conduit and manholes.

If approved, another $1.1-million in bonds would help to pay for a rollout of advanced metering infrastructure for the Division of Water.

Council chairman Mike Heyeck said the city staff will give a presentation on the rollout of advanced metering infrastructure when council hears the second reading of the legislation at its Feb. 1 meeting.

An additional $2.25-million in bonds would go toward capital improvement projects, including street resurfacing, repairs and reconstruction and related improvements, such as curb, sidewalk, landscaping, drainage and utility improvements.

The remaining $1.28-million in bonds would be used for the acquisition and improvement of property by the city.

All of the improvements being paid for with those bonds are projects listed in the city's 2011-2015 capital improvement budget, said Gina Love, Westerville's interim finance director.

Love said she would like to see a vote on the bonds at council's Feb. 15 meeting, which would allow the finance department to go to market with the bond package in March.

Though the bonds have been broken into four pieces of legislation, Love said, if approved, they will be combined when taken to market.

Love said the $10.43-million is the maximum in bonds to be sought for the group of legislation and, if possible, she said the city will seek a lesser amount if the decision is made to eliminate projects or reduce the scope of projects.

"We will make sure that no more debt than needed is issued for the projects," she said.