Cape Girardeau City Council approves borrowing money for parks projects

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The parks projects promised when voters passed a new sales tax last year moved one step closer to reality Monday evening when the Cape Girardeau City Council approved the plan to borrow money to finance the construction.

In materials supporting the resolution, city finance director John Richbourg predicted the city will pay about 4 percent interest on the $20.1 million in bonds that will allow construction of a new aquatic center, expanded Osage Community Centre and Shawnee Community Center to proceed.

Danny Essner, vice president of Capaha Bank and chairman of the Parks Advisory Board, said with a recent drop in interest rates, the city will likely pay about 20 percent less to retire the debt than projected when the tax was approved in April 2008.

The city's bond rating was recently raised to A+; while not the highest rating, it is a strong endorsement of the city's credit from the financial industry.

"Everything has been going exactly the way it should have," said Essner, referring to both progress on design work and the financial side. The ordinance approved Monday needs a final council vote but is written so the city can issue the bonds at the most advantageous time, Essner said. "It will allow us to pounce if the market shifts," he said. "We need to be able to do that."

On a related financial matter, the council accepted the latest audit of city finances which auditor David Seabaugh of Beussink, Hey, Roe, Seabaugh & Stroder LLC said shows the city is financially healthy.

In other action the council approved a plan for improvements to the terminal at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport in order to have design plans ready if the federal government makes economic stimulus funds available.

The council also heard a request from the Southeast Missouri Climate Protection Initiative to establish a formal advisory group to discuss ways the city can cut energy use, enhance sustainability and serve as a role model for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The council took no action on the request.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

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