Council continues budget discussions

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Cassville City Council continued 2013 budget discussions at its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 8.

Mayor Bill Shiveley asked for information regarding the structuring of the 2010 water sewer sales tax revenue bond and the 2010 COP (certificates of participation) bonds.

"Our former administrator, when looking at the bond projects in the city, saw that the city couldn't afford to take on more debt," said Darelyn Cooper, city finance officer. "He talked to the bond holder about postponing payments on the principal until after some of the other debt service drops off."

Due to this decision, the City of Cassville is limited to paying only interest on the water sewer sales tax bond until 2021 and the COP bonds until 2015.

In 2015, the city will be forced to make a $180,000 principal payment on the COP bonds in addition to $24,500 in interest payments that have been made since 2011.

In 2012, the city will be required to make a $28,000 principal payment on the water sewer sales tax bond in addition to the $16,901 in interest payments that have been made since 2011. The interest payment will increase to $232,000 in 2024, and the city will be required to pay the remaining $246,000 in 2025.

Shiveley asked if there was any way to restructure the bonds to remedy the future problem. Cooper said she has spoken with the bond holder and that no changes can be made at this time.

Cooper said that the former administrator, Eugene Dilbeck, had indicated that the city would be able to use general fund monies that were being used to supplement the parks department to pay the principal payments in the future. She said that she had concerns about this, because the amount of general fund money supplementing the parks department was small.

"We can't use parks and recreation sales tax money for sewer," said Cooper. "We would need to go to the voters to do that."

Alderman Jeff Parsons said that the city may need to go to the voters to change the sales tax. He indicated that the change would not increase the sales tax.

"In three years, we are going to have to do something," said Shiveley. "This decision just pushed out the problems instead of taking care of them as they came by."

Shiveley pointed out that in addition to the bond payment increases, the city is facing the $3.5 million project to correct inflow and infiltration issues, which is required by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the sewer fund is not generating enough revenue to cover expenses.

According to Cooper's monthly report, the city's sewer department is currently $146,552.57 below the designed cash balance requirement established by the council.

"We may have to look at a small increase in sewer rates so that we do not have to do a 20 percent increase again in a few years," said Shiveley.

Noelle Harmon, city clerk, and Michelle Bredeson, Cassville Main Street Association Board member, presented the council with drawings developed by PGAV for a sidewalk improvement project that would be completed around the Barry County Courthouse.

Last month, the council gave Harmon the go ahead to develop information for a project that would qualify for grant funding available through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

In applying for the grant funding, the city commits to provide a 20 percent match for the grant award, which could be up to $300,000. The deadline to apply for the grant is Nov. 5.

PGAV provided information on several phases of the project. The entire project, which would include sidewalk improvements around the courthouse, on the outer sides of the square and across Main Street in the Commerce Bank block, would cost around $400,000 to complete.

Sidewalk improvements around the courthouse only would cost around $203,000. If a project included only the sidewalks on the outer portion of the square, the cost would be $129,000, and a project that included only the sidewalks in the Commerce Bank block on the east side of Main Street would cost $122,000.

Bredeson said that she would like to see the sidewalk improvements around the courthouse completed first. The Cassville Main Street Association has committed to raising funds for the grant match for that portion of the project, which would be around $300,000 with engineering and utility relocation costs.

"This portion of the project would resolve some of the crosswalk and ADA issues around the courthouse," said Harmon. "There would be bump outs near the crosswalks."

The council asked Steve Walensky, public works director, to check and see if any of the city's current infrastructure is located under the sidewalks that would be impacted by the project. Walensky volunteered to also contact Missouri Gas Energy to see if they have any lines in the area.

"We are encouraged to have a project that could fit the grant funds, and that would get the downtown organization started," said Harmon. "Plus, so many organizations would collaborate on this project."

Harmon said she will likely receive letters of support from the Barry County Commission and MoDOT regarding the project.

If the city receives the grant funding, the project will need to be completed by January of 2016.

The aldermen unanimously voted in favor of applying for the grant funding.

In other business, the Cassville City Council:

* Discussed personnel policies that cover vacation time, overtime and sick leave.

* Directed Harmon to prepare an ordinance that would eliminate phantom meter fees, which means residents who live in apartments that do not have individual meters would only be required to pay the usage fees.

* Joined the Missouri Clean Energy District, which gives local businesses an opportunity to apply for low-interest loans through the district.

* Approved a $19,069.50 purchase order to Flynn Drilling, Co., Inc., for repairs and maintenance, a $3,832.50 purchase order to Carr Oil Company for vehicle fuel, a $5,850 purchase order from Frazier Oil Co., for airport fuel and a $7,392 purchase order to Huber and Associates, Inc., for computers and software.

* Voted to transfer a car from the police department to the sewer department.

* Set a budget work session to be held at the city hall at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18.

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