City managers have approved a payment plan with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) for costs incurred during the winter storm in February.
According to a staff report prepared by city administrator Phillip Patterson on Aug. 10, the city will make four quarterly payments of $ 963,939 and will not pass on the $ 3,855,758 the city owes GRDA to utility customers, says The report.
The board of directors voted 6-1 in favor of the proposal, with principal Reid Carroll voting “no”. Payments will start either in Q4 2021 or Q1 2022, the report says.
Originally on the consent agenda, the payment plan was withdrawn by Director Mindy Hunt. She said the plan that Patterson proposed at the previous city council meeting on Aug. 3 to pass the cost on to consumers was just a plan.
“It was presented to us for our comments, not for a vote, and under this plan consumers would have refunded their share of what was used, it was not a tax,” Hunt said.
Hunt also said there was no precedent for using the reserves to pay off debt. The city manager said she spoke to several residents and heard mixed feelings on the matter.
She said she would like Patterson to show council how the use of the reserves will impact the city’s future plans, especially street improvements.
However, Hunt said she was in favor of the city absorbing the costs. She said the winter storm was an extraordinary event, but the fact that it occurred during the coronavirus makes it even more extraordinary.
“The combination of the two events has increased the living costs of all of our citizens, so if there is anything we can do to help, I’m in favor,” Hunt said.
Director Brad Burns said he hopes the board remains united if projects are pushed back due to the use of reserves to pay off debt. Director Carol Smiley has said she was initially in favor of shifting costs to citizens, but she also appreciates what Hunt has said.
Smiley said she hoped it wouldn’t take away from the street repairs. Carroll said he was happy there were seven directors to help make a good decision.
He went on to say that not everyone in Siloam Springs has all electric homes.
“Some of us have gasoline and for me to see him tending to our reserves, it kind of gives a boon to those who only have electricity, not that we throw at him. money, but I feel like it’s not a fair split, ”Carroll said.
Carroll felt the city could do something that could be a little more than that, although he didn’t say what that “something” might be or what a fair distribution would look like.
Making that distribution a fair distribution would require more than just removing it from the reserves, Carroll said.
Carroll went on to say that he was not here to fight the decision or to rail against it, but Carroll has said he would like the board to make a wise and informed decision.
Director David Allen said the city has $ 13 million in reserves for utilities with a minimum of $ 7 million for this account and $ 20 million in general fund reserves with a minimum of $ 5 million. dollars for this account.
He asked why the city needs to borrow money from the utility account for street repairs.
Allen also said the city is a non-profit business, which is different from a for-profit business that can easily pass costs on to its customers.
“This is why the money is set aside to cover the acts of God,” Allen said.
He then explained how the city could earn a second income from broadband service in 2012 and how funds from the sale of the hospital were supposed to be set aside for an emergency.
“This was the sale of an asset owned by the city, and I will explain once again that this city belongs to the taxpayers, to the citizens who reside within the city limits,” Allen said.
After a few more minutes, Burns issued a wake-up call because he didn’t know how it related to GRDA. Allen asked Burns if all of his points had to do with GRDA, but Mayor Judy Nation reminded Allen that the point of order had been called and all discussion had to cease.
The board voted in favor of the payment plan.
City managers also approved the following:
Donation of $ 3,750 by the American Legion Family for the ADA (American Disabilities Act) fishing pier and a kayak launch.
• Report of the workshop of August 3.
• Minutes of the regular meeting of August 3rd.
• Dedication of utility easements for 717 N. Mount Olive St.
• Purchase of a John Deere 550 K crawler dozer from Stribling Equipment for water and wastewater service in the amount of $ 124,876.
• Purchase of a Hitachi excavator from Stribling Equipment for the water and wastewater service in the amount of $ 130,729.
• Budget modification for the purchase of vehicles from Old Fort Harley-Davidson for the police service in the amount of $ 24,146.
• Purchase of property and allocation of an easement to utilities in the amount of $ 10.00 for the Moss substation electrical department.
• Amendment of Order # 2 with Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company Inc. for water and wastewater service in the amount of $ 876,219.
• Budget modification for the purchase of a qualifying rotating target system in the amount of $ 39,933 for the police service.
• Appointment of the Sager Creek Advisory Committee.
• Place Ordinance 21-16 concerning the rezoning of R-2 (Middle Residential) and R-3 (Two-Family Residential) to R-4 (Multi-Family Residential) for second reading.
• Passing Ordinance 21-17 amending the town planning code with regard to private alleys and sanitation at second reading.
• Place ordinance 21-18 respecting body art businesses on second reading with Burns voting against the ordinance.
• Update of subdivision and housing construction.
• American Rescue Plan Act fund recommendation.
• Administrator’s report.