The Connecticut State Bond Commission Friday voted to allocate $161.5 million of bonds, including about $75 million for road and bridge repair.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who chairs the commission, sets the agenda for each meeting, which usually occurs once a month. While lawmakers and Rell authorize the bonds, the Bond Commission then votes on the allocation of those bonds.
Of the $161.5 million, about $45 million will be used for Connecticut's Fix-It-First Program to rehabilitate and reconstruct nine bridges in the state. The bonds are special tax obligation bonds that the Connecticut Department of Transportation requested.
The DOT also requested, and the Bond Commission allocated, $30 million of STO bonds for the Fix-It-First Program to repair and reconstruct five major roads. Lawmakers authorized in June the use of these bonds, specifying that the road projects "shall be based on traffic volume, condition, and need, and priority shall be given to projects currently programmed in out years."
"By releasing the bond funds at this time, we are continuing our unprecedented investments in the safety and integrity of Connecticut's transportation system and we are providing immediate benefits to our economy," Rell said in a statement. "These projects are shovel-ready, the design work is complete, and these jobs are ready to go. We will get the work started this construction season, boosting our local economy with $75 million worth of construction projects in communities throughout the state."
About $20 million of the bonds authorized are general obligation debt for the state's Small Town Economic Assistance Program. The Office of Policy and Management requested these funds to provide grants-in-aid to various municipalities under the STEAP. The program pays for economic development, community conservation, and quality of life projects for municipalities, and no municipality may receive more than $500,000 in any one fiscal year under STEAP. This round of funding will pay for 83 projects in 72 towns.
"The STEAP grants are a critical way of helping smaller towns grow, stay vital, and maintain the charm that makes living in Connecticut so special," Rell said. "These projects range from improvements like lighting and seating in town centers and renovations of historic buildings to water, sewage, and municipal waste projects."
STEAP funds can only be used for capital projects.
Other bond allocations include $9 million of GOs for the Community-Technical College System. These funds will be used to finance the purchase of new and replacement equipment for the college system. Also, $8 million was allocated to finance a portion of the costs associated with corrective repairs to eliminate water infiltration from the façade of the library at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford.
Additionally, the Bond Commission authorized an $8 million state loan to help Blue Sky Studios Inc. relocate to Greenwich from White Plains, N.Y. The loan will help the studio - makers of such animated films as the Ice Age series and the recently released Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! - prepare about 105,000 square feet on a single floor of the Greenwich American Center.
The project includes the building of a state-of-the art animation facility and will result in the relocation of 300 full-time employes to Connecticut from New York. The terms of the loan call for 3% interest over 10 years, with principal and interest payments deferred for the first five years. If the company fully complies with its job creation requirement by June 2012, $6 million of the loan will be forgiven. The overall cost of the move is estimated at $32.5 million.
"The emphasis Connecticut has put on making our state friendly to film and television production has had tremendous results and I am thrilled to welcome Blue Sky Studios," Rell said. "It is always exciting when 'the movies' come to town - but what makes this especially good news from an economic point of view is that it is a lasting investment."