Safety Center Funding: As she had at the June 5 city council meeting, at this meeting wearing her hat as HRA member, Councilor Erica Zweifel tried to move the safety center project forward by offering a motion that the Housing and Redevelopment Authority authorize the necessary actions for the issuance of lease revenue bonds. Unlike her success with her council colleagues last month, her HRA motion died for want of a second, leaving the project in funding limbo.
An impressive array of staff was on hand to explain the lease revenue bond process to the HRA which received preparatory materials both prior to and at the meeting. Housing Manager Michelle Merxbauer reviewed the council’s decision, said the process would not materially interfere with the work of the HRA and provided a motion for their consideration. Bond attorney Jenny Boulton of Kennedy and Graven, reviewed an opinion letter summarizing the statute and the legality of the city and HRA entering into the transaction. Mark Ruff, representing Ehlers, the city’s financial advisors, noted that the request for proposal for selection of a bonding firm, rather than having been sent right after the council’s approval last week had been held up until the HRA had a chance to review it. He noted that in his experience, it was not unusual for an HRA to bond for similar projects.
Leota Goodney, HRA Chair, had a number of questions about whether there was a risk for the HRA bonding authority as well as interference with their usual work, if the city would pay for the costs, and if the city should fail to pay the principle and interest costs, how it would affect the HRA bond rating.
Several citizens spoke, including Mayor Mary Rossing who said the HRA and council are on the same team, charged with making decision based on what is best for the city. The facility is an essential need, and she respectfully requested that the HRA “step up to the plate” and approve the financing tool. A vote against it would be seen as a vote against the project.
Authority member Susan Crow said she wished she had more time to review all the information in order to absorb it. Her colleague, Dayna Norvold, who had spoken against the funding plan at the council meeting earlier, repeated her belief that the project is far from the HRA’s mission. Erica Zweifel said that if the HRA says no, in essence they were saying not to the project since the HRA had no projects in the works needing funding just now. Kevin Fink, saying he was in favor of police and fire facilities, agreed that this was not an HRA project.
After the meeting when asked what would be the next step in this faltering journey, City Administrator Tim Madigan said that the matter would be on the council agenda Tuesday. He wouldn’t speculate as to what comes next.
Energy Monitoring: Glen Castore of Triangle Energy Solutions (http://www.triensol.com/) gave a brief presentation about the work his company does to document the use of gas and water in multifamily dwellings in order to reduce energy consumption as well as cost. He suggested this might be a way to reduce the costs for residents in affordable housing and offered to work with the HRA to see how the system could be included in construction of the authority’s housing projects.