Sale to save taxpayers estimated $168,742 in interest
The Medina City Council Tuesday, March 5, authorized its financial advisors to solicit bids for the sale of $2,785,000 in General Obligation Refunding bonds — a sale that would save the city an estimated $168,742.04 in interest.
At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business. Here are some meeting highlights.
Financial Adviser Shelly Eldridge, of Ehlers and Associates, explained the reason for the proposed bond sale. In 2007, Medina sold $495,395,000 in General Obligation Water Revenue Bonds to finance construction of two wells, construction of the Well No. 6 pumping station and raw water supply line, land acquisition and a water tower. Because the water tower has not been built, Medina has recharacterized $1.4 million of the Water Revenue Bond money as Capital Improvement Plan Bonds. This money now is earmarked for paying remodeling costs for the former Clams Corps building that soon will be home to the Public Works and Police Departments.
Now Medina has an opportunity to refund the bonds in order to get a lower interest rate on the debt — a transaction similar to a homeowner refinancing his mortgage at a lower interest rate. Eldridge estimated that the refunding bonds might be sold at a true interest rate of 1.52 percent.
City Councilor Liz Weir commented that original bonds were sold at an interest rate between 3.5 and 4 percent in 2007, and this rate seemed reasonable at the time.
Eldridge said that was a good deal back then.
She anticipated that Medina would receive an Aa2 bond rating from Moody’s Investors Service for the refunding bond sale. The City Council would choose the winning bidder on April 2.
After dealing with finances, the City Council heard 2012 annual reports from all four volunteer fire departments that serve Medina — Hamel, Loretto, Long Lake and Maple Plain.
Hamel Fire Chief Brandon Guest said his department responded to 207 calls in 2012 — 126 in Medina, 53 in Corcoran and the rest mutual aid calls scattered about the area. This was a 12 percent increase in calls from the 186 responded to in 2011. One-third of 2012 calls were classified as medicals, one-third as alarms and one-third as miscellaneous.
Hamel firefighters responded to 80 percent of calls in seven minutes or fewer and 90 percent in 10 minutes or fewer, Guest said. Average response time was 5:13 minutes for Medina and 6:23 minutes for Corcoran.
The Hamel Fire Department had an operational budget of $213,000 for 2012, he said. The Hamel Lions helped out the department by awarding it a grant of $6,500 for equipment.
Recruiting proved to be a highlight for the HFD in 2012, with six firefighters joining the department. Five of the new faces are rookies, all of whom are on track to graduate from Firefighter 1 training this year, Guest said. He called these recruiting results “remarkable” and “beyond expectations.” The Hamel Fire Department currently has 28 firefighters.
Guest said the Hamel and Loretto Fire Departments has received a grant from the state for implementation of shared services between the two departments. Shared training is part of the plan. Work under the grant must be completed by some time in June.
He did not discuss HFD contracts with cities that are coming up for renewal in 2013.
LONG LAKE FD
Long Lake Fire Chief James Van Eyll said his department responded to 395 calls in 2012 — 22 of which were from Medina. Average response time for Medina calls was 6:35 minutes.
The LLFD experienced a large decrease in false alarms last year, Van Eyll said. He attributed this to the education his firefighters gave to residents and business people after they had turned in false alarms.
Although Long Lake has a policy to fine people who have false alarms, he has not fined anyone since he joined the department. This is because he has seen few repeat offenders for false alarms, and he does not charge anyone for burnt food.
His department has 43 active members divided between two fire stations. An average of 15 firefighters respond per call. The LLFD is looking at nine applications for fire fighter positions.
For the second year in a row, the LLFD was under budget in 2012. This year the department is considering the purchase of a new command vehicle.
Loretto Fire Chief Jeff Leuer said that, of 212 calls in 2012, 48 came from Medina (23 percent). Loretto received more fire calls in the day time than in the past. The LFD has 28 members.
A 2012 highlight was purchase of eight acres of land near Chippewa Road in Medina. The Loretto FD had been looking at a land purchase for several years and finally “the price was right,” Leuer said. The LFD is “looking to the future,” when it can go forward with a new fire station and a training facility for firefighters and police from West Hennepin Public Safety and Medina Police.
Leuer thanked the Loretto Lions for donating money for purchase of an automated CPR device. Three weeks after receiving the device, Loretto firefighters used it to save a life. The LFD is considering the purchase of a utility vehicle in 2012 to facilitate a quicker response by the department for accidents and medical calls.
The Loretto Fire Department has been working with the Maple Plain and Mound Fire Departments for unified firefighter training, Leuer said. The Hamel Fire Department is not yet part of this picture.
MAPLE PLAIN FD
Chief David Eisinger presented the annual report for the Maple Plain Fire Department. Maple Plain responded to 269 calls in 2012 — three of them from Medina.
The 25 member department operated with a $355,000 budget, which has not increased, Eisinger said.
This year the MPFD is planning to replace the van it uses for responding to medical calls. Engine 11 will be refurbished, despite the fact that it is 20 years old. He said the old engine is “in great shape.”
The department is getting its 10 year old ladder truck recertified for insurance purposes. The 105 foot tall ladder enables Maple Plain firefighters to get to many areas that otherwise would be difficult to reach, Eisinger said.