The Leitchfield City Council approved the bond ordinance for the new Aquatic Center at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Monday, March 19.
During the meeting, the Council listened to the second reading of the bond ordinance, which, if passed, would allow the city to advertise and sell bonds to outside bidders. Embry said this, in addition to city taxes, such as the restaurant tax, would help to fund the Aquatic Center project, according to City Clerk/Treasure Erin Embry.
The pay back for the cost of the Aquatic Center project will be over 25 years, and while the city will begin taking bids for the bonds on April 9, the bonds will actually sell on April 30.
The maximum cost of the project is set at $4,900,000; although, Embry said during the City Council meeting the city is looking for a second analysis of the project to see if the estimated cost can be lowered.
The vote for the passing of the bond ordinance was four to three.
Council members, including Jerry Schlosser, Harold Miller, and Margaret Fey, hesitated and ultimately voted to oppose the approval of the bond ordinance due to the high cost.
Miller said that while he trusted the Tourism Commission, who have overseen the Aquatic Center project, to make a good decision, he hesitated to approve an ordinance that was set at a higher cost than had originally been given when the project was for an indoor pool.
Leitchfield City Tourism Director Ilsa Johnson said that while the initial price for an indoor pool was set at a lower $4,300,000, to build and upkeep an indoor pool would not be financially feasible.
Councilman William Dallas, who voted to pass the bond ordinance, said the improvements to the Aquatic Center project were very visible from the first drawings to the current designs, and based on the unanimous decision to support the project by four local bankers, he approved it also.
Schlosser expressed concern that the high cost of the project would place too much financial strain on the city and the citizens and because the Aquatic Center could only be open for a small portion of the year, he feared it would not earn enough revenue to support its upkeep.
Dallas said he thought the Aquatic Center will help to draw more people into the community, and he felt the center could feasibly run for five months, from May to September, each year.
Councilman Steve Elder, who also voted to pass the bond ordinance, passed out a packet detailing the inexpensive nature of the bond’s current borrowing rate and discussed the economic benefits of opening the Aquatic Center and approving the ordinance sooner rather than later.
“If we wait, rates are only going to go up,” Elder said. “Forget that it’s a pool. This is truly an investment in the community. We have a dedicated revenue source. That’s a good thing. We are never going to be able to borrow money cheaper than it is right now.”
The other two Council members who voted to pass the bond ordinance were Mayor William Thomason and Councilman Raymond Cottrell.
In other business:
- The Council listened to the first reading of the Procedures Ordinance for the Bonding Requirements, which detailed the city’s responsibilities and rights regarding the purchase and sale of bonds. Under the requirements listed in the ordinance, the city cannot turn the current pool into a for-profit organization. In addition, the ordinance details the procedure required to sell tax-free bonds. The first reading was approved by the council in a 4 to 2 vote.
- Schlosser recommended that the Leitchfield Fire Department be reevaluated to possibly improve on its current Class 5 rating. Schlosser said on the measuring scale, 1 is perfect and 10 is poor. Schlosser said that if the rating were improved, it could lower the taxpayers’ health insurance. However, Steven Elder pointed out that in order to receive a higher ranking, a staff of six full-time firefighters would be required, which would put the Fire Department over budget. Dallas also pointed out that the reevaluation could lower the Fire Department’s current ranking, which would cause financial strain as well. Thomason said he had figured up the savings on insurance if the Department received an improved rating, and it would save citizens $18 a year. Schlosser said he would gather further information.
- It was announced that a representative from AT&T will attend the April 1 Leitchfield City Council meeting.
- Miller brought to the Council’s attention that based on the House Bill 257, if local county and city governments do not appoint someone to electrical inspection, the state will appoint one for them. Miller discussed the possibility of meeting with the other City Councils in the County to discuss appointing an electrical inspector.
- The Council motioned to approve Miller’s selections for the Babe Ruth Committee.