Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

Council hears from BCEDC; approves bond issues

September 20, 2007

Baldwin City Council members heard a report from the recently formed Baldwin City Economic Development Committee and finalized two bond issues totaling $3.405 million at Monday's meeting.

Dave Hill, president of the BCEDC, provided the council with the group's vision statement and other items and updated them on what had been done. The group is made up of various business leaders, school, city and Baker University representatives.

"We've had a real good active nine months," said Hill, noting the BEDC started operation in January. "We've spent hours and hours on this vision statement. We've come up with what our vision for growth is."

Hill then outlined other items of note and encouraged the council to read the vision statement. It's available on the BCEDC's Web site at www.baldwincityedc.com. In its summary, it states:

"Members of the advisory group may have strong and even differing opinions about how to foster city growth, but it is clear that all believe growth is likely only when the city's partners -- governing bodies for the city and school district, business owners and the university -- are prepared for it, are proactive in seeking it, and are working together to make it happen."

Hill also said he's been impressed with how the different people involved with the group have come together on the project.

"I've been here for 12 years and I don't think I've ever seen this kind of communication and cooperation," he said.

Council Member Ken Wagner, who is on the city's economic development committee, said that group will be taking a close look at what the BCEDC is doing.

"From a committee standpoint, we're going to zero in on this," said Wagner. "I do think your hearts are in the fight place in moving the community forward."

Council Member Tony Brown echoed those thoughts.

"I appreciate all the work you've done," said Brown. "This is one of the most proactive things done in economic development. I think this is a positive step."

As for the bond issues, the first totals $1.29 million on a 20-year payback at 4.15 percent interest. It is a bank qualified tax exempt bond that will be used to pay off temporary notes issued in 2006 that paid for the Kapelle property (Baldwin City Municipal Golf Course) and the city's matching portion of the two grant projects, the Women's Bridge and the Downtown Streetscape Project. Those two projects had 80 percent of their cost picked up by the Kansas Department of Transportation. The Women's Bridge project had a $1.2 million price tag and is all but complete. The downtown project totals $1.8 million and will be ongoing for some time.

The second bond issue totals $2.205, also has a 20-year payback and has an interest rate of 4.36 percent. It will be used to refinance a 2001 bond issue and will save $39,000 in interest costs. It will also be used to fund two capital improvement projects in the future, culvert replacement and Sixth Street improvements. The Sixth Street project is being done in cooperation with Douglas County. The city is paying $465,000 and the county $500,000.

The council also briefly discussed recent problems with electrical outages. Brown brought the matter up after another outage Monday in northeast Baldwin City. That problem was caused by a short in an underground line, said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

"Twenty minutes without lights isn't bad," said Mayor Gary Walbridge. "Every community has this problem."

"We've had a lot of interruptions," said Wagner.

In the only other action item, the council appointed John Monroe to the zoning board of appeals.

The council did hear concerns from dog owners and a group of senior citizens during the public comment section of the meeting. Those concerns will be looked into, they were told by Walbridge.

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