Loan orders dominated the New Bedford City Council's agenda Thursday night, including funding of municipal buildings and elementary schools.

The council's Committee on Finance previously recommended allocating $5.5 million to make critically-needed repairs to city-owned buildings, including public safety facilities, recreational facilities and general office space.

Ward 5 Councilor Kerry Winterson said it's about time the city addresses the incredible amount of deferred maintenance...

"We need to do something about the deferred maintenance that we have," Winterson said. "We've neglected the buildings that we have, particularly the fire stations, for quite some time. The last time we had a fire station built was 64 years ago."

The funding, part of the city's Capital Improvement Program, will go toward renovations and repairs, as well as the construction of a new fire station in the South End.

Many councilors agreed that improving the city's appearance will help attract new businesses into the area and boost the current tax base.

Also discussed during the meeting was a loan order for four elementary schools: Carney Academy, Hayden McFadden, Casimir Pulaski and Alfred J. Gomes. The $18.1 million loan would cover renovations including windows, boiler systems and doors.

This project is also part of the CIP, and the council previously allocated $1 million to these accelerated repair projects last year. The city will need to pony up an additional $2.7 million while the remaining $14.3 million is to be reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

With such a large portion of the funding coming back to the city, Ward 3 Councilor Henry Bousquet called the decision "a no brainier."

The council decided not to approve either loan order, but passed them on to a second reading. Both will appear on the next meeting's agenda and undergo a final vote.

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