Alachua pays off two debts, sees higher funds

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the City of Alachua has paid off two debt issues, one of which started in the early 2000s.

Rob Bonetti, director of finance and admin services for the city, told the city commission at its last regular meeting that the Section 108 payments had officially ended.

In an interview, Bonetti said the Section 108 payments began in 2002 and ended in August with the funds spent primarily for sewer and roadway services. The city sent a little over $200,000 during the last fiscal year to finish the job.

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The other debt service ended in April of last year, and Bonetti said the city is looking to finish off the remaining $270,000 of the debt incurred to build NW 142nd Terrace in June 2023.

For the last fiscal year, Alachua saw 3 percent higher funding than expected and Bonetti said despite COVID-19 obstacles the city finished several projects, like completing the city hall build out.

Bonetti added that the city didn’t spend much more for the finished projects despite pandemic constrictions. In total, the city spent 88 percent—just over $40.8 million—of its funding during the last fiscal year.

Most of Alachua’s revenue comes from state sources and Florida saw a larger economic rebound than forecasted.

“It’s still a precarious environment,” Bonetti said.

But as long as the state stays in a post-COVID environment, with normal business operations and interaction, the city shouldn’t have a problem with projections.

Bonetti told the commission that the city had budgeted to spend more than $1 million of its fund balance over the last few years, but Alachua only had to use less than a third of that because of higher than expected revenues and projects coming in at cost.

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