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Council sets Aug. 16 public hearing for Fibrant debt refinancing

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council set a public hearing for the refinancing of Fibrant’s debt for Aug. 16 at its meeting on Tuesday.

The city’s finance department has been working with finance advisors to refinance the city’s Series 2008 and Series 2013 Certificates of Participation that were used to fund Fibrant, the city’s fiber optic network.

Richard Marvin, a financial advisor from the PFM Group, discussed the proposal with council.

He said requests for proposals to refinance the debt were sent to 20 banks and only one proposal, from SunTrust Bank, was received.

“But it was a good proposal,” he said.

Marvin said some of the other banks did not want to agree to a 13-year fixed rate commitment and others did not think the essentiality of Fibrant was high enough. Some things they would consider essential would be projects with fire stations, City Hall or a high school.

“They don’s see this as essential even though you may see it as much more important than essential,” he said.

SunTrust Bank agreed to a tax-exempt, 13-year fixed rate commitment of 2.06 percent.

Other perks of the deal were that SunTrust does not require a debt service reserve fund and there was no bank commitment fee.

Three million dollars worth of debt service would be eliminated over the life of the loan, with a yearly savings of more than $430,000.

“This gives us the opportunity to pay off the Water Sewer debt quicker than what we had projected,” Teresa Harris, Financial Services director, said.

Marvin estimated that rates should be locked in and the transaction should be closed by Sept. 13.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved the consent agenda, which included the minutes for a regular meeting on July 19 and special meetings on July 18 and 20.
  • Removed the $91,000 budget ordinance amendment to the fiscal year 2016-17 budget to use for two transit express routes for Livingstone College from the consent agenda and added it to the regular agenda. The ordinance was approved. The route would extend bus services on Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m. and add a Sunday route that would run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Although the routes were created to service Livingstone students, anyone can ride.
  • Received an update on Knox Middle School. Dr. Michael Waiksnis, the principal, talked about the improvements the school has experienced compared to previous years. He also spoke of Christopher McNeil, the school’s new deputy principal. McNeil plans to host a Community Outreach Series and Evening Workshop Series to discuss topics with parents to encourage student success. McNeil will be paid a total of $11,000 per year by the city, including $4,500 to continue his education and $3,000 to run the community series. Dr. Waiksnis’ duties and compensation remained the same.
  • Approved the use of speed humps on Sunset Drive to replace the semi-permanent chicanes as an effort of speed control.
  • Heard public comments. Greg Alcorn and Carl Repsher talked about Fibrant. Alcorn said Fibrant should be discussed at every meeting and the council should work hard to make it break even. Repsher said Fibrant should be operated like a business and not hide any expenses.
    Cynthia Stanfield said the city was not maintaining an abandoned apartment building next to her property. She questioned the Code Enforcement Department’s retention rate and whether they were actually enforcing the code.
    Frank Davidson thanked the council and Wendy Brindle, director of engineering and city engineer, for their work on Sunset Drive.
    Dee Dee Wright asked the council what type of evaluation was being used to warrant the city supplementing the salary of Dr. Waiksnis, principal of Knox Middle School.
    Carolyn Logan was concerned about the break-ins in the West End and crime in the city. DeCarlo Duling agreed, and said he wanted to see more of a police presence in the neighborhoods.
  • Appointed Dave McCoy to the ABC Board.
  • Gave their blessing to City Manager Lane Bailey to proceed with a land trade with Habitat for Humanity for a property near Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue.
  • Scheduled a work session for the General Fund Capital Improvement Plan for Oct. 2 at 4 p.m.

Mayor Alexander proclaimed Aug. 2, 2016 as National Night Out.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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