Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Hurley looks to refinance bonds


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Hurley — The city of Hurley took another step toward refinancing water and sewer bonds with a resolution to seek bids for an opportunity to save millions of dollars over the existing bond rates.

The Hurley City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance and establishing parameters for the sale of water and sewer system revenue refunding bonds. The action will allow AMKO Advisors LLC, a Fargo-based registered municipal advisor, to solicit bids in an effort to find competitive interest rates.

The city currently has four outstanding water and sewer bonds from 2008 and 2009 totaling approximately $7.5 million at an interest rate of 4.25%, according to Mark Deraney, vice president of AMKO Advisors, who attended by phone. Refinancing at lower current bond market interest rates than the current 3% industry standard interest rate could realize savings of up to $2 million through the original 2049 payoff term, he said.

Ray O’Dea, city attorney, asked the company to provide a statement in writing that the city would not be responsible for costs of issuance or other fees unless and until accepting the bond refinance offer.

Council member Jamey Francis added language to amend the resolution to require the full council to authorize the bond financing rather than the mayor and clerk alone.

The AMKO representative said that the bid offers from the competitive market would be presented to the city by the next meeting. The resolution authorizes the search and the city may reject the offers with no financial obligation.

The board also approved a $13,648 cost for playground equipment for Pena Park. The purchase had the recommendation of the finance committee.

The funds for the playground equipment and the land for the park were donated by Nancy Luppino. The city council accepted the donation in August 2020 but delayed the start of the playground project work to time it with work at Riccelli Park this summer.

The city council accepted Luppino’s provision that she would also donate $15,000 for playground equipment at the new park if the city would assume the cost for the basketball court.

The board approved an amended resolution for the Compliance Maintenance Annual Report that was approved at a previous meeting. The amendment was to include the required board response to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and does not change the A rating of the report for financial management and collection systems regarding the wastewater systems.

Joanne Bruneau, finance committee chair, said in her report that the city has received the first $75,152 installment of the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund and will be earmarked for the water department to assist in a transition from automatic meter reading systems to an advanced metering infrastructure, or AMI, system.

The city has purchased basketball hoops for Riccelli Park that were ordered at a cost of $995 each, she said. According to previous reports the city public works crews removed out-of-service restrooms and existing foundation and utilities at the park to make way for the basketball court.

The Wisconsin Public Utilities Commission auditor analysis report has recommended an 18% increase in city water rates, she said. The city may respond with changes.

Bruneau also noted in her report that the city library board hired Rachel Ofstad as a part time library assistant.

The city council went into executive session for collective bargaining negotiations. There was no action taken on closed session items upon returning to the open meeting.

In other business the city council approved:

—12 bartender licenses at the recommendation of the Police, Fire and License Committee. The board also approved a class B beer and liquor license to the Copper Street Pub.

—The hire of Gerald Rigoni for the part time janitorial position. There were four applicants.

—Referring an application for a conditional use permit to allow for short-term rentals at 307 Maple St. to the city planning and zoning committee.

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