TRF sells bonds for projects

by April Scheinoha

    The Thief River Falls City Council awarded the sale of $1,475,000 in bonds for the 2017 Street and Utilities Improvement Project. The sale was approved at its meeting Tuesday, July 18.
    UMB Bank N.A. of Kansas City, Mo., purchased the bonds for $1,669,840.10. The bid has a true interest cost of 2.23 percent. There were four other bidders.
    The General Obligation Bonds will have a 12-year term. They will cover the cost of the project.
    Initially, the city planned to sell $1,580,000 in bonds. Consultant George Eilertson with Northland Securities said the amount decreased due to the bond premium and $10,000 in issuance savings.
    Standard & Poor’s assigned the city’s long-term and underlying rating at AA-. It cited “strong management with ‘good’ financial policies and practices, very strong budgetary flexibility with a high available fund balance of 45 percent of operating expenditures, and a strong debt and contingent liability position with 66.2 percent of debt scheduled to be retired within 10 years.”
    The council approved holding a public hearing Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 5:30 p.m. The hearing will center on the possible establishment of an Economic Development Authority. City Administrator Rod Otterness said the public hearing is a preliminary step for such an authority. If approved, the EDA would be able to levy property taxes. Council members would serve on the EDA board.
    The council is considering  establishing an EDA since Pennington County Economic Development Director Christine Anderson’s position is set to sunset Oct. 22. For the past three years, her position has been funded by Jobs Inc., the city and Pennington County. Jobs Inc. has signified its intention to withdraw from the partnership in October. Pennington County has notified Anderson that the position will sunset. Anderson receives her paychecks from the county.
    City Council approved filling the position of information technology specialist. Consulting firm Fox Lawson has banded and graded the non-union position as a Grade Level 9. Depending upon experience and/or education of the hire, the starting wage is expected to be $5,554 per month to $5,881 per month.
    The position will handle some of the responsibilities formerly handled by Barry Froiland, billing manager/
management information systems director who retired in April 2016.
    Reid Froiland has also worked with the city’s computer systems for many years. However, he plans to remain employed full-time with the Thief River Falls School District.
    City Council approved selling the land underneath Quality Farm Supply for $15,000. The council met in a closed session Wednesday, July 5 to discuss the sale.
    The city acquired the land years ago from Canadian Pacific Rail and then leased the land to Quality Farm Supply. Otterness noted the sale will facilitate the potential future sale of both the land and building.
    Mayor Brian Holmer read aloud a summary of the performance evaluation of Acting Public Works Director Mark Borseth.
    The council conducted the evaluation in a closed session Wednesday, July 5. In accordance with Minnesota state law, a summary of the evaluation was provided at the following council meeting.
    Holmer said Borseth has performed at a high level, and met and exceeded expectations. Holmer added that Borseth has a strong work ethic and attention to detail. He further noted that Borseth is available to the council and public.
    This is the second performance evaluation of management positions that the council has conducted. Last month, the council conducted a performance evaluation of Parks and Recreation Director Joe Amundson, whose position has since been eliminated. The council has also conducted a performance evaluation of itself.
    Council member Curt Howe, who serves as president of the Pennington County Fair Board, thanked the city for its support of the fair. He thanked the Water Systems Department, street/sanitation employees, park maintenance employees and the Police Department for their help. Howe also thanked the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.
    The next council meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 4:30 p.m. at Peder Engelstad Pioneer Village in Thief River Falls. Night to Unite will be held there that evening.