BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – Lee County Supervisors will wait until the new year to decide how to finance a $6 million radio upgrade
Supervisors tabled approving a fund mechanism for a $5.9 million digital radio upgrade to allow Supervisor-elect Garry Seyb, Jr., to have input on the decision.
Seyb was present at the meeting for his swearing in, but officially takes office in the new year.
Board Chairman Ron Fedler said he wanted all five supervisors to be able to vote on the issue. Outgoing Supervisor Gary Folluo hadn’t accessed the meeting initially, but when he was able to join via phone, Fedler said that Supervisor-elect Garry Seyb should have a chance to weigh in on approving the funding.
Supervisor Matt Pflug moved to table approving a financing mechanism and the motion passed moving consideration of the the financing to the Jan. 4 meeting.
Travis Squires, the county’s bond counsel, presented two options with two scenarios in each on 12-year or 15-year pay back options. He said wrapping some of the county’s debt into the financing could help ease the burden on county tax payers.
The 15-year wrap scenario would push the county tax levy about 13.6 cents from the 2021 projections to about 67.6 cents/$1,000 assessed valuation initially. That figure reduces yearly throughout the life of the bond repayment.
However, that scenario doesn’t include a 2022 principal payment, only a $107,131 interest payment, and results in $1,040,716 in interest over the 15 years.
The 12-year wrap pushed the tax rate to 70 cents/$1,000 initially and results in $769,600 in interest payments over the life of the loan. In both cases, the existing debt is retired in 2031.
The county is looking at borrowing $5,909,346 to pay for radio upgrades to digital systems for all county first responders including the new ambulance service. The new system will guarantee coverage for 95% of the county.
“I would like to actually digest this information a lot more and table it for Jan. 4 agenda,” Fedler said.
Squires said the county needs to consider it will be two weeks for the bid window for banks to submit proposals, and then another two weeks before closing.
“If your cash flow in terms of the service contract can tolerate that, we can work on that timeline,” Squires said.
A representative with Federal Engineering, who was contracted to engineer the upgrade said delaying action would obviously delay the project.
“This would delay the project until the financing is secured and then the whole timeline will be pushed out, but any other impact I can’t answer at this point,” he said.
In other action, the board approved assuming ownership of the Lincoln Ridge low-income housing property in Keokuk effective Jan. 1, 2021.