The Batesville City Council voted to save utility customers money, make the town more accessible to the disabled and help out one of its largest companies Aug. 12.
Members mulled over whether to approve Ordinance 7-2013, which would refinance sewage works bonds that totalled $11 million in 1998 and 2001 held by the State Revolving Fund with a current 3.9 percent interest rate.
With the final payment set for January 2021, the balance is now $4.69 million, said clerk-treasurer Ron Weigel. After consultants’ fees of at most $75,000, utility customers would save about $290,000 with a lower interest rate. Fees could be a maximum of $30,000 for bond counsel provided by Bose McKinney & Evans, Indianapolis; $25,000 for the financial expertise of Piper Jaffray, Indianapolis; $15,000 for local attorney Lynn Fledderman; and $5,000 for other expenses.
Member Darrick Cox suggested moving forward despite the hefty fees. “It’s still a pretty significant savings in the long run.” Member Kevin Chaffee calculated, “We’re paying 21 percent in fees. That seems kind of high.” Member Beth Meyers said, “That’s pretty common when you’re talking this amount of money.”
Mayor Rick Fledderman asked, “Are your fees consistent with other firms?” BME attorney Dennis Otten nodded yes. Chaffee wondered, “Have we even talked to anybody else” to get other consultants’ bids? The mayor said employees at two companies performing rate studies of four Batesville utilities recommended the bond experts. “There has to be trust in all this.”
The ordinance was primarily adopted 4-1, Chaffee opposed, with a second reading expected next month.
After the meeting, the mayor noted that quibbling over fees came too late. On June 10, the Batesville Board of Works approved Piper Jaffray as the sewer bonds refinancing agent and signed a retainer agreement with BME to serve as bond counsel.
The council adopted the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan. Fledderman said public property “must become more compliant with the needs of the physically handicapped people of our community.” Tim Macyauski, director of operations for street and building departments; VS Engineering; street department employees; and ADA officials collaborated on the plan. “ADA compliance inspections took place in the last few days,” he reported. Citizens may have noticed street workers “have done a lot of work with sidewalks and corners. That’s all part of the plan.”