Hillsboro City Council on Monday approved refunding bonds that will save the city about $129,000 combined, or about $10,000 a year in interest savings.
Council unanimously approved three ordinances refinancing the bonds following the advice of Gary Lewis, the city auditor, and a presentation on the savings by Michael Burns, director of Baird’s Ohio Public Finance Group, a Columbus firm.
Burns provided a breakdown to council of how the savings will be realized. The bonds are both the Series 2007 street improvement bonds and the Series 2010 notes originally issued to pay for the new fire and police stations.
The direct placement refunding Burns recommended has several advantages, he said, including avoiding the risk of a bond rating downgrade, and a more efficient process for the city’s administration.
Burns told council that Baird compared direct placement bonds in communities including Wolf Creek Local School District, the city of London, Ohio, and the Green Local School District in making its recommendation for Hillsboro. The 2007 bonds will reach final maturity on Dec. 1, 2022, and the 2010 bonds on Dec. 1, 2029.
Burns described recent events such as a low jobs report and the Brexit vote in the UK that caused the lowering of interest rates. He praised Lewis for being proactive in recommending the refunding.
“Hats off to Mr. Lewis,” he said.
Mayor Drew Hastings asked several questions about refunding the bonds, but seemed satisfied with the answers.
In another matter, council delayed taking action on demolishing the Colony Theatre after some members said they did not want to tear down the facility without a plan in place to replace the façade.
As she did at last month’s meeting, council member Tracy Aranyos repeated several times that she wanted to be “in the loop” about plans for the façade. Hastings said she has been invited to a meeting of the Design Review Board later this week to discuss the matter.
Hastings said there are community members who have expressed interest in having input in the decisions on how to replace the façade of the theater.
The original plan was to place the Colony into the city’s community improvement corporation (CIC), officially called the Hillsboro Area Economic Development Corporation, along with funding from the city to demolish the building.
At a meeting prior to the council meeting that was billed as a Finance Committee meeting but actually was attended by all council members seated in their usual spots, Hastings said the CIC, which was created by an act of council last year, consists of Greg Van Zant, Chris Lewis, Buck Wilkin and himself.
Council member Ann Morris questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for Hastings to be on the CIC and said she wanted to make sure everything was “legal.”
Hastings said that by ordinance, the CIC includes a member of the administration and that Fred Beery, the law director, had previously said that it was appropriate for the mayor to be a member.
Koogler reminded council that it had created both the Design Review Board and the CIC by legislation. At one point, after Aranyos asked about various committees, Koogler explained the purpose of council committees as opposed to other committees such as the Design Review Board.
Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin said the cost to demolish the Colony and create the parking lot would be about $130,000. That did not include the cost to replace the façade of the building, said Wilkin. Council discussed various funding options, including money previously budgeted for street work that has been put on hold.
Hastings said the Colony issue has been before council for two years, and “we do have a plan.” He said he hoped the Colony could be acted on because “there are other things we could be doing.” But the committee voted to recommend that legislation to demolish the building originally planned as an emergency instead just have its first reading.
Finance Chair Dick Donley told Hastings, “I don’t want you to feel we don’t appreciate what you do,” commending the mayor on the city’s progress. But he added, “I hope we can sit down as adults and come to a conclusion… I want to see this continue. The city has moved along pretty well.”
In his mayor’s report, Hastings said, “I love a good quote,” and proceeded to share one, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.” He said, “I got punched hard in January,” which he said he considered a “sucker punch,” referring to an investigation and indictments leveled against him.
But he said he plans to do the job voters elected him to do, adding, “We have accomplished a lot.”
In other matters, council:
• Heard from Wilkin that the Fraternal Order of Police had voted down factfinding and was moving to conciliation regarding its new labor contract with the city.
• Heard street paving updates from Wilkin, along with reporting that the Railroad Street park is being repaved and bathrooms made operational again.
• Heard Wilkin report about an AEP energy rebate program available to both the city and residents.
• Heard council member Rebecca Wilkin ask about extending the moratorium on water and sewer rates that began a couple of years ago, with Lewis promising to look into the figures and report back in September.
• Heard the second reading of an ordinance amending the permit fee for mobile food vendors.
• And heard Lewis report that the city has more than $7 million on hand.
At the end of its agenda items. council member Justin Harsha asked for council to go into executive session, with just council members and the law director attending. After a 25-minute session, council members returned and no action was taken.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.