The Rockford City Council, in previous actions, approved construction contracts for improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment facility, and for water and sanitary sewer replacements and repairs. On hand at the council’s May 13 meeting was the city’s financial advisor, Shannon Sweeney of David Drown Associates. Upon approval of the projects, the council asked Sweeney to prepare a recommendation for financing.
The wastewater treatment plant needs significant improvements due in large part to government mandates regarding the reduction of phosphorus discharges. Some grant funding for those improvements directly tied to the mandates is available, and staff has begun the process of obtaining it.
The water and sewer main project was determined to be necessary due to aging, deterioration and costly repairs.
The projects have been rolled together for funding purposes with a total project cost of $4,797,616.87. This is using estimates provided by the city’s engineer, Jared Ward of Wenck, with the wastewater project coming in at $1,435,800 and the main replacement project at $3,292,566. Additional fees for underwriting and legal fees are approximately $84,050.
Sweeney advised a bond sale to finance the projects along with a “Credit Enhancement Program” offered by the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority that provides some repayment guarantee protection.
The structure of the repayment recommendation Sweeney presented calls for a significant increase in annual payment amounts over the next three years, and would require increasing sanitary sewer rates by 34 percent to cover project costs related to that service. He stated that the water fund does have a cash balance and will be paying off other annual debts in 2019 and 2020, and suggested a 20 percent increase over 2013 revenues if the city is not anticipating that the bonds will be needed for additional projects, in which case the suggested increase would be higher. Special assessments in the amount of $320,600 will be collected for parts of this project. The bond would be callable in 2021.
The council approved bonding for $4,795,000 for this project and anticipates awarding the sale in early June.
The council discussed, and approved (with an amendment), a Temporary Outdoor Sales Permit for a community market in the Rockford Mall parking lot. The city recently purchased the mall for future use and will retain tenants. The farmer’s market-styled sale would be open on Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. through mid October.
In the case of bad weather, the organizers proposed that vendors move inside the mall and operate. This was a point of discussion with the council, which came to the consensus that it did not want the market to operate inside the mall. The potential for leaving a mess behind, getting the carpet dirty and disturbing tenants were all cited by the council as reasons to strike the latter request. The council voted 5-0 to approve the permit, waive the fee and allow for outside sales only.
The next regular meeting of the Rockford City Council is Tuesday, May 27, at 7 p.m. at 6390 Town Hall Dr.