Clay county leaders may sell $130 million in bonds to cover road improvements

Big improvements to 6 local roads

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — As Clay County grows, neighbors and county leaders tell us problems with traffic are worsening.

Clay County homeowner Teresa Mickey lives off County Road 218 and says getting around’s gotten a lot tougher in the past few years.

“It’s a little disheartening to see our nice, quiet, little community turning into a bustling, booming, community with a lot of people,” said Mickey. “At certain times of the day you’re unable to get out on our road.”

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District 4 Commissioner Gavin Rollins tells us it’s a problem the county’s trying to get ahead of.

“We have a problem with traffic. Clay County is very congested,” said Rollins.

As a possible solution, commissioners will soon vote on a resolution allowing the county to issue about $130 million in bonds to investors.

If approved, the county tells us anyone would be eligible to purchase a bond, though the lowest sales price would be $5,000.

The money raised from selling bonds would be used to cover the costs of several road improvement projects across the county. The county would repay investors, plus interest, over the course of about the next 20 years.

One of those projects would include widening CR 218 from Cosmos Avenue to Pine Tree Lane, to four lanes.

“It’s about current residents in Clay County and making their lives easier through infrastructure upgrades,” said Rollins.

Rollins tells us it would be cheaper for the county to issue bonds, and lock in construction costs as soon as possible, rather than saving for the projects, and beginning the work when construction costs may be inflated in the future.

The county expects the bonds to accrue a total interest cost of about $30 million, on top of the $130 million being borrowed from investors. Thus, the county expects to repay investors a total of about $160 million over the course of the next two decades, with the final bond payment being made in October 2039.

Rollins says sales tax revenue generated over the next 20 years will cover the cost of borrowing money, and the interest cost borrowing accrues. A spokesperson tells us the county projects $440 million in sales tax revenue coming in over that time period.

The spokesperson tells us the bond sale is being handled by UBS Financial Services, and RBC Capital Markets, LLC.

Action News Jax requested and obtained a statement from a county spokesperson on how soon work would begin should the measure be approved.

“The county will immediately seek to retain engineers and pursue right-of-way acquisition,” said a county spokesperson. “Then we will be able to move forward on construction. Estimated construction start dates for the seven projects range from Sept 2021 to August 2022.”