City Council holds year-end special meeting

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Special to the Democrat

The Cassville City Council held a special meeting on Dec. 30 to accomplish year-end financial transfers for the audit and take action on several on-going matters. The council voted for a slight increase to the water rates and authorized the firm of D.A. Davidson and Co. to refinance the Series 2010 Certificate of Participation bond issue in a move that will save the city nearly $172,000 over the next six years.

"What you are considering tonight is an ordinance known as a parameter ordinance," said Steve Goehl, senior vice president of the firm of D.A. Davidson and Co. "What this parameter ordinance does is it sets forth certain not to exceed amounts on refinancing of the Series 2010 Certificate of Participation."

Goehl went on the explain that the ordinance was necessary for the firm to be able to subscribe on behalf of the city to state and local government securities -- a system where rates change from day-to-day.

"We can't subscribe with them until the ordinance is passed because they do change," Goehl said. "If we subscribed today, then something would happen tonight and you tabled the motion, you would be locked out from getting state and local government securities, and it would end up costing you extra for the refinancing."

The city was able to receive a fixed interest rate of 2.25 percent on the refinancing of the COP bond issue. Savings generated by the city will range from $24,700 to $29,150 each year over the next six years of the new Series 2014 COP issue. There was no discussion as the council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance authorizing the parameters of the sale, which was scheduled to be held on Jan. 16. Mayor Bill Shiveley was pleased that the city could realize substantial savings with this action.

"This makes very good sense to me," Shiveley said, "That's $176,000 in cash flow over the next six years that can be used to take care of other projects during that time period."

The city council held a short public hearing prior to reviewing and passing the refinancing ordinance. The purpose of this hearing was to give citizens an opportunity to address the council regarding any concerns they might have relative to the proposed water and sewer rate increases. No one was in attendance when the hearing was opened, so the council closed the hearing and moved on to consideration of the refinancing ordinance.

The water and sewer rate increase ordinance was the item on the agenda that followed passage of the refinancing ordinance. Robert Precoda of America's Best Value Inn and Suites in Cassville requested an opportunity to address the council. Precoda asked the council to consider a rebate program that is currently being offered by the City of Springfield.

"We're very concerned about the water situation, because our water rates have doubled," said Precoda. "I'm not here to complain about that, I'm here to offer what I hope is a positive option based upon what the city utilities is doing in the City of Springfield. They are helping individuals and businesses conserve water by offering a rebate for toilets."

Precoda provided the council with copies of a page taken from the KY3 website dated Aug. 3, 2012, and entitled "Springfield City Utilities offers rebate program to help with high bills during drought." The council agreed to take a closer look into the program, noting that the drought conditions in Springfield that precipitated the program's creation are different than the current conditions in Cassville.

"Whether it will be feasible for Cassville to do it or not, I don't know," said Shiveley. "Our water usage has been dropping steadily over the last couple of years -- people are instituting conservation measures. We're going to look at it and see if there's a way for us to get grant funds to do something like this. We couldn't fund it out of our regular water and sewer fund because we're just barely covering our costs now."

The council passed the water and sewer increase ordinance following Precoda's presentation. The increase will add a 1.5 percent inflation adjustment to current water and sewer rates charged by the city.

The final action taken by the council during their regular meeting was to make certain adjustments to the 2013 budget. These adjustments were necessary to accomplish for the city to be in line with current accounting practices in anticipation of the audit, according to Darelyn Cooper, who is currently providing financial consultation to the city. Cooper has previously served as the city's clerk.

"This budget, the one that is done at the end of the year is really more for the audit," Cooper said. "There are no decisions that are being made, because everything that is in this budget has already happened. The purpose of this is really an audit compliance tool rather than a planning tool."

The council approved the adjustments as submitted and then adjourned the regular meeting. A closed meeting was then conducted to discuss personnel issues. When the council withdrew from closed session, they voted to hire Cooper on a part-time basis to develop a fixed management asset program for the city at a not to exceed level of 1,000 hours.

"This will give us a true and accurate picture of what the assets of the city are," said Shiveley. "Their cost, and what their remaining value is. We can then work toward a place of knowing when we need to be looking at replacing assets and being more proactive."

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