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City to save $92,000 by refinancing

The Morris City Council on Tuesday approved a measure that could result in savings of about $92,000 by refinancing two bond issues and two loans.

The council approved authorizing Ehlers and Associates to solicit the sale of bonds at a lower interest rate that would be used to pay off debt on bond issues from 2003 and 2006 and two other loans.

The council is scheduled to meet Oct. 12 to consider proposals for the sale of new bonds. By combining the bonds and loans, the city also will save on administration fees by combining the four issues into one.

"Interest rates are low but they're probably not going too much lower so this is a good time to take advantage," said Brian Reilly, a financial advisor for Ehlers and Associates.

The total of the new issue would be about $2.76 million, and the terms of the bond issues does not change, said City Manager Blaine Hill.

In other city business:

• The council approved using Capital Improvement reserves to order a new police car.

The car purchase was in the department's budget for 2011, but the cost will be about $2,000 lower if the city orders the car now instead of waiting until after Jan. 1, 2011.

Chief of Police Jim Beauregard said the city has a 1998 and 2003 squad cars that are either "dead in the water" or becoming to costly to continue repairing.

"If we can tap those resources now, it helps us tremendously," Beauregard said.

The new 2011 Chevrolet Impala will cost almost $21,000, with additional expenses for lighting. The department budgeted almost $24,000 in 2011 for a new squad. The new car will be ready in between 60 and 90 days.

Hill said using the fund now won't make a difference in the budget because the money would be used for a squad anyway, and that repeatedly fixing deteriorating cars can be expensive.

"If you don't keep up on them, you start seeing a lot of maintenance bills," Hill said.

•The city's Truth in Taxation meeting is Dec. 14, at 6 p.m., at City Council chambers.

At the meeting, city officials present information about the 2011 budget and levy and the public is encouraged to speak or ask questions.

• The City Council will visit the firehall to see improvements made thanks to FEMA grants obtained by the department. The council will visit the hall following its next meeting on Oct. 12.

• City officials continue to work on the 2011 budget, and Hill said the city can expect to lose even more Local Government Aid when the Minnesota Legislature convenes early next year. At a recent forum of city officials, the consensus was that cities receiving LGA can look forward to a 10 percent to 15 percent reduction in aid. The City of Morris has lost about $500,000 in state aid since 2008, Hill has said. LGA accounts for about two-thirds of the city General Fund budget annually, which is approximately $3 million.