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Huntsville is now $835M in debt following city council vote to approve borrowing $131M

The city said the money will go towards projects that will improve the quality of life for people in Huntsville.

Posted: Feb. 21, 2018 10:18 PM
Updated: Feb. 21, 2018 10:36 PM

The Huntsville City Council approved the borrowing of $131 million for capital improvement projects.

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According to the city's Finance Director, it puts the city's total debt at $835 million.

The $131 million will be split into six different areas.

The city said the projects will improve the quality of life for people here in Huntsville.

Dorothy Sandifer lives in Huntsville and said the sticker shock of borrowing that much money doesn't sit well with her.

"I'm totally against borrowing money if you don't have to if there's other ways to get the job done without borrowing money," said Sandifer.

WAAY 31 asked city council members how long tax payers in Huntsville would have to wait for capital improvement projects if the city didn't borrow the money up front.

"I can't answer that question. They probably wouldn't happen without borrowed money," said Huntsville City Council President Mark Russell.

The money will pay for:

$69M for Toyota-Mazda plant related projects.

$22.5M for road projects.

$13.5M for libraries, community centers, and public safety.

$10M for parks, greenways, and recreation.

$8M for parking garages.

$7M for Von Braun Center improvements.

The city's Finance Director told WAAY 31 they have 20 years to pay back this money and they've already done the calculations showing it won't impact every day city operating costs.

"We know we can cover what's due," said Huntsville Finance Director Peggy Sargent.

Sandifer said even though she isn't a fan of putting the city in debt she's glad a lot of money will go to fix and improve a part of the city that, she said, desperately needs it.

"I like the idea that we're trying to improve the infrastructure," said Sandifer.

The city's Finance Director told WAAY 31 the city typically borrows large amounts of money like this every two years for big projects.

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