By BILL SHEA
The Fort Dodge City Council took the first step on Monday toward borrowing more than $3 million to pay for a host of projects and purchases.
Councilman Andy Fritz was absent from the otherwise unanimous vote to combine and authorize loan agreements, approve the future use of general obligation corporate purpose bonds and providing for a tax levy to pay off a portion of the debt.
A few more council actions will be required in order for the city to actually borrow the money.
About $2 million of the debt will be paid off with property tax revenue. The rest will be paid off with tax increment financing, water bill revenue and possibly ambulance revenue.
Richard Higgins, of Fort Dodge, asked the elected officials about the money that is to be borrowed to buy vehicles. He said the proposal calls for borrowing up to $185,000 to buy an ambulance for the Fire Department.
Mayor Matt Bemrich said the goal is to pay off that debt with revenue from the ambulance service.
The Fire Department has two ambulances, a 2000 model and a 2001 model. Both were bought used within the last five years.
Higgins also asked why up to $90,000 is to be borrowed to buy three police vehicles.
Jeff Nemmers, the city clerk and finance director, said the local government would borrow that money for one day and pay the loan off with property tax revenue. He estimated that the city would incur $150 in interest costs on that transaction.
Every year, the city buys three police vehicles to replace the three oldest ones in service.
Higgins also questioned the need to borrow up to $24,000 to buy a new vehicle for the city inspectors.
Bemrich replied that the inspectors' current vehicle is 10 years old, and added that there is no money in the general fund to pay for replacing it. The general fund is the property tax supported account that pays for many government functions. It is the portion of the budget that's historically the hardest to balance.
The proposed bond issue includes:
- $1,120,000 for the East Region Storm Sewer Project.
- $849,000 for the city's share of the cost of rehabilitating a runway at Fort Dodge Regional Airport.
- $738,000 for the booster station and water storage tank at the ag industrial park called Iowa's Crossroads of Global Innovation.
- $700,000 for a handicapped accessible entrance and elevator at the Municipal Building.
- $450,000 for new financial software and data network.
- $300,000 for new bleachers at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.
- $185,000 for a new ambulance.
- $90,000 for three police cars.
- $80,000 for a new concrete driveway and windows at the firehouse.
- $40,000 for roof replacement and gallery lighting at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.
- $40,000 for computer equipment.
- $25,000 for a tractor for the airport.
- $24,000 for a new vehicle to be used by city inspectors.
- $15,000 for two mowers to be used at Oakland Cemetery.