Oss, Hintz at odds as council votes to prepay 2012 bonds in preparation for 2023-24 project borrowing

Temmers hired as new city clerk

PRESCOTT – The Prescott City Council voted Monday, Jan. 9 to prepay a 2012 general obligation borrowing in anticipation of indebtedness the city will take on for construction this year of Locust Street. The 5-1 council action came after a verbal tussle between two alderpersons.

Tom Oss and Dar Hintz had a brief backand- forth exchange. Oss voted against the note payment.

City Administrator Matt Wolf said the city’s financial consultant, Ehlers, Inc., recommended prepaying the note at a cost of $1.24 million. The original bond was for $3.895 million, which was used for Walnut Street reconstruction and the purchase of a fire truck.

“The prepayment of this bond will allow the city to minimize debt service that will need to be taken on as a result of the borrowing for the reconstruction of Locust Street in 2023 and Elm/Washington Street in 2024,” Wolf told the city council.

Oss raised the question of what the interest rate of the old note is compared to what it would be for this year’s borrowing. Wolf didn’t have the number available.

“I can’t weigh in on that decision without knowing that,” Oss responded.

Alderperson Maureen Otwell asked Oss, “What difference would it make to know the interest rate?”

“If we’re retiring an interest rate of 2 percent and we’re doing borrowing at 5 percent, that’s lighting off every alarm I have,” Oss answered.

“Normally that would be true for me as well,” said Otwell. “I think the interest rates are going to be higher at this point in time. We thought it would be best to pay off this debt first before we take on a second debt.”

Wolf said the council could table the resolution until its next meeting Jan. 23.

“The rationale of why we picked this bond is we could fully retire this bond. It wasn’t the interest rate. It was that we can retire this debt. It can come off our books. It would reduce the amount of overall debt,” said Wolf.

“I don’t want to jeopardize the street project borrowing. We absolutely have to commit to getting Locust Street done,” said Otwell.

Oss answered: “We want to get Locust Street done. I don’t know that we absolutely have to commit to it. I believe we have to have all the numbers to make a responsible decision.”

The council talked about tabling the matter, and that brought reaction from Hintz. She said to Oss, “I think if you’re reading your material ahead of time, if you’re questioning it, that should have been brought to staff before tonight.”

“I have been reading it,” Oss said. “I did notice in my reading today it said 2 percent on the current bond. That raised some questions in my mind.”

“That should have been before today,” said Hintz. “I’m trying to be real.”

“I’m trying to be real and get the real numbers,” responded Oss.

The council moved forward on the vote. “By retiring this debt early, I think that’s a good thing to do regardless of the interest rate,” said Otwell.

The council is expected to vote at its meeting Monday night on issuance of $4.73 million in general obligation bonds for the Locus/Elm/Washington road projects. The council gave preliminary approval of a resolution to do that in December.

Shovel ready land

The council voted unanimously to spend $18,500 to have its newly acquired industrial site deemed “Shovel Ready” in Xcel Energy’s Site Certification program.

Xcel Energy is still analyzing requests for the program. Total cost of the certification is $37,000, and Xcel pays half the cost if the city is approved.

The land the city is seeking certification for is the former Sears farm, 150 acres just to the east of the Eagle Ridge Business Park. The city purchased the property in 2021 for future business park growth.

The city’s share of paying for the certification would come from rental income that has come in on the farmland to date.

New city clerk hired

The council voted unanimously to hire Rashel Temmers as new city clerk, replacing Jayne Brand, who retired in November.

There were 12 applicants for the position. Temmers was employed as a legal assistant at Heywood, Cari & Anderson, the city’s law firm. She also already is the city’s municipal court clerk.

“I think she’ll do a good job. She already knows a lot about the city,” said Mayor Rob Daugherty.

Wolf said the hope is she can continue with the municipal court position as well.

“Right now, the process would be based on what the council said previously about trying to save funds and the ability for her to do it. We were at least hoping to try and see how it went in terms of if staff or the judge felt it wasn’t working, it would need to be addressed,” he said.

January 17, 2023