Worries over the nation’s debt and credit downgrade slipped over to the Antigo Common Council Wednesday.
At its regular August session, aldermen approved $2.725 million in bonding for a series of new projects and some refinancing of existing debt, but not before quizzing financial advisor Jeff Belongia on a few of the details.
“You’ve managed your debt quite well,” Belongia said, explaining that the city has seen its credit rating rise to A1 on the Moody’s scale and A-plus by Standard and Poor’s, the agency that just downgraded the nation’s credit worthiness a notch.
He said the city is also “insulated” from the national downgrade, citing a variety of reasons including its statutory ability to levy enough taxes to always cover debt payments without the danger of default and that the city is not overly-reliant on federal government aid.
“You’re a strong, strong A-plus,” he said.
Belongia credited city staff with doing an excellent job in crunching the financial numbers and managing city debt and interest payments.
The borrowing, $50,000 less than initially called for in the resolution, will cover $1.3 million in restructuring of existing debt for previous work in the north-side industrial park at an attractive interest rate of 2 1/2 percent. The city had previously been paying over 4 percent on those bonds.
“It was good timing,” Belongia said.
Funds will also cover the cost of the Deleglise Street sanitary sewer extension project nearing completion on the city’s northeast side, a portion of the revitalization efforts in downtown’s Peaceful Valley, including lighting, landscaping, sidewalk and parking areas, and sewer system improvements on Field Street.
Belongia will be back in November with a similar refinancing of a taxable bond issue, and said he anticipated the city will see a 3 point reduction in interest costs on those notes.
The bonding was approved without dissent. Alderman Maggie Turnbull was absent.
In a related matter, the council authorized the Public Works Committee to approve bids to construct the sanitary sewer main from the Fifth Avenue lift station to the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Milton Street and alleviate some maintenance problems in the area.
The power to act was granted to allow the work, expected to cost about $100,000, to begin quickly and be completed this fall, prior to Peaceful Valley parking and street improvements that are slated to begin next spring. The force main will be built along the route of the proposed bike path to be constructed in Peaceful Valley next summer.
On a 6-2 vote, aldermen approved a resolution that could trim the Antigo Public Library’s budget upwards of $20,000, due in part to changes at the state level. Glenn Bugni and Tom Bauknecht were opposed.
The library is funded jointly by the city and county and under previous state law, funding had to be maintained at certain levels in order for the facility to remain part of the Wisconsin Valley Library Service, a status known as maintenance of effort. The new state budget deletes that requirement.
The city, facing cuts in state aid and a zero percent allowable levy increase, is seeking to pare $10,000 in its 2012 library appropriation. The change would require Langlade County to also reduce its library appropriation by a similar amount.
Prior to the vote, Library Director Cynthia Taylor addressed aldermen, saying she understood the need for fiscal restraint but warning that the library faced a series of major capital expenditures, including the need for a new roof, carpeting, and heating and ventilation control repairs.
“I just want to make sure you are aware,” she said.
Mayor Bill Brandt pointed out that the facility operates with a budget in excess of $600,000 and a “20,000 cutback between the city and county “is not a killer of any sort.”
In other matters, aldermen:
—heard from Deb Gallenberg and Debi McGregor of Family Corner Resource Center, who provided an update on operations and requested $2500 in continued funding for 2012. “I truly believe we are keeping kids safe through good parenting,” Gallenberg said.
—approved new aldermanic districts, which have been redrawn slightly to reflect changing populations and to match the new county board districts. The ordinance keeps the nine district, nine alderman standard currently in place. There are approximately 915 residents in each ward.
—and formally adopted an ordinance approving the already-in-place three-way stop at East Fifth Avenue and Highway F.