Revisiting a bond refinance talked about in September, the Rushford Council unanimously approved the measure garnering significant savings for the city at the October 12 meeting. The original 2014 bond has a rapidly approaching call date and is within a 90-day prior window to begin refinancing.
Initially, Financial Consultant Mike Bubany, of David Drown & Associates, brought the suggestion to the council anticipating $132,000 in savings. In the end, without seeking a rated bond and by capturing a low interest rate, the city will see $163,562 in savings over the length of the $802,000 bond. “Interest rates have risen. It’s a good thing we locked in earlier rather than later,” noted Bubany. The final interest rate is 1.75%. The term will mirror the current note.
Minnesota Rural Water Association MIDI loan fee structure also greatly benefits the city by keeping refinancing costs low. It’s estimated these savings will alleviate the city’s annual budget by $23,000-24,000 annually for the length of the bond. Savings will show beginning with next year’s budget.
A public hearing held for the consideration of a Winona Health Services proposal to refinance their own 2012 and 2017 bonds utilizing revenue bonds saw no public concern or comment. As stated previously, “the new bonds have no impact on the city’s credit rating or debt limit and will not be charged against the city and will be payable only by the borrower.”
Jan Brosnahan, Chief Financial Officer of Winona Health, attended the hearing. Both she and members of the council noted an appreciation of the other, particularly what Winona Health having a clinic in Rushford affords the community. Seeing no opposition to the issuance of the bond, the council approved the action unanimously.
A bid for the construction of an access road to a new Root River canoe launch was awarded to Generation X Construction in the amount of $78,110. Three other bids were received from Zenke, Inc. ($91,986), Minnowa Construction Inc. ($93,916), and Rochester Sand & Gravel ($97,453). All four bids were considerably lower than the engineer’s estimate of $104,146 provided by Bolton & Menk.
Construction is being financed by a federal grant in the amount of $99,200. The funds can only be used for road construction to the launch and all unused funds will be returned to the federal government. Councilor Jim O’Donnell questioned how much the city has paid for engineering fees for the project, which was begun thus far. City Clerk Kathy Zacher noted that since 2014, when the project began, $50,000 has been spent on engineering.
The process has been an arduous one with the city needing to work cooperatively with the Army Corps of Engineers, who has control of the levee on the north side of the river, and the Department of Natural Resouces (DNR), who controls waterways within the state. Because of this, the city has needed detailed engineering to secure various permitting. In addition, the city has been required to see several studies conducted on the area including a wetlands study and an archeological study. A DNR waterways permit may still be needed.
All work on the road is to be substantially completed by June 30, 2022, however, it’s unclear whether or not the city will be able to open the launch for the 2022 season. Public works will construct the actual launch and is intending to make a natural slope and watch how weather and the river affect it before making its layout permanent with gravel or other structures that might otherwise be washed away.
“The purpose is to have another amenity for our community and those that come to our community,” said Mayor Terri Benson. The city’s existing DNR launch has accessibility issues and may be converted into a fishing area.
Road construction planned by the state on Highway 43, from the south side of the Root River Bridge heading southward was also discussed. Being a “flex project,” there’s no specific start date to the work. However, the state has provided an update and it appears the area south of the city is in Section A and is expected to last four to five weeks.
An update on the 2022 Highway 30 project in the city was also provided. The city recently was informed that the house and retaining wall on the far western end of the project, on the south side of the road, have been essentially pulled from the project. According to MnDOT, who is running the project, they have been unable to locate a comparable location for the family renting the home. They are paying the rent on a new location for 18 months, beginning immediately, but nothing comparable can be found. All final plans from Bolton & Menk are due to the state at the end of this month and bidding will let in January. If the issue still remains, it will be pulled from the project and done at a later date. If a location comes up while the project is underway, the state may still include it.
“It’s a testament to how tight the vacancy rates are here,” said City Administrator Tony Chladek.
“It’s something the Derek (City Engineer Derek Olinger) and the city have no control over,” noted Councilor Jim O’Donnell.
“It’s their road and their right-of-way,” echoed Zacher.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The meeting is open to the public.