Ground was broken for the North County Fire Protection District’s new Station 5 in Bonsall on Oct. 28.
“It’s under way,” said NCFPD Fire Chief Bill Metcalf.
A 5-0 board vote at a September 10 special meeting approved an agreement between the fire district and Capital One Public Financing which authorized the borrowing of up to $3,127,000 at an annual interest rate not to exceed 4.35 percent. The approval allowed NCFPD to provide the financing for the fire station and to award the contract to Keeton Construction of Temecula.
“I’m very happy that the board was able to take this action,” said NCFPD deputy fire chief Ed Sprague. “It’s a great opportunity to build a station for this community.”
Station 5 is currently located near Bonsall Elementary School. The new station will be near the intersection of State Route 76 and Olive Hill Road. NCFPD began the permit process with the county in early 2010, when construction costs were lower due to economic conditions, but the permitting process took more than three years and construction costs increased during that time.
In 2010 the architectural consultant provided an estimate of approximately $3.5 million, although that was based on construction beginning that year. This year the fire district sent a request for proposals and received six bids which were opened June 19. The lowest base bid was $4,662,000 and the highest was $4,967,000. When optional items were added the bids ranged from $4,700,464 to $4,997,800.
“The difference between the low bid and the high bid was relatively small, percentage-wise,” Sprague said.
The bids from the contractors were good for 90 days. At the June 25 board meeting Sprague gave a presentation which was a discussion item rather than a voting action and sought direction from the board to staff. The board directed NCFPD staff to research funding options and return to the board with findings.
NCFPD staff identified and contacted three financing companies. Municipal Finance Corporation, who provided the initial bond financing package in 2010, did not wish to be involved in the current issuance. California Bank and Trust did not make a firm commitment and seemed unable to meet the NCFPD timeline requirements.
Brandis Tallman, LLC, is the representative of the California Special District Finance Corporation. The company identified Capital One Public Finance as a willing lender which could meet the district’s timeline. A 5-0 NCFPD board vote August 27 approved a professional services contract to Brandis Tallman for $17,500 contingent upon the San Francisco company locating financing and the NCFPD board approving the financing and the additional station expenditures September 10.
Improvements financed by a public agency’s general fund rather than a voter-approved bond usually entail a lease structure which utilizes a public entity’s authority to lease public improvements and thus avoids any constitutional or statutory debt limitation. The lease structure uses Station 2 in the Winterwarm area and Station 3 in the Olive Hill area as collateral; the two properties combined have an insured value of $3,350,000.
NCFPD will make semi-annual lease payments to Capital One Public Financing. The principal and interest payments will be approximately $235,604 annually for 20 years, although the lease agreement allows the loan to be pre-paid on or after September 1, 2013, with no pre-payment penalty. The 2010 financing agreement involves semi-annual payments of $91,369.33, equating to an annual repayment of $182,739, so the total annual debt payments for Station 5 will be approximately $418,343.
Keeton Construction had submitted the lowest bid with a base bid of $4,662,000 and $39,721 of optional items for a total bid of $4,701,721. The board’s September 10 approval of the financing also directed Metcalf to execute the contract with Keeton Construction along with related documents.
The prescribed construction time is 330 days. “We’re really excited about getting started on this project,” Sprague said. “We’re looking forward to moving in.”