By MARY RAINWATER
The Palestine City Council approved the issuance of $2.6 million in Certificates of Obligation that will fund improvements to the city’s lighting, water and sewer facilities, park expansion and more during its regular meeting on Monday.
As part of their decision, the city chose the bond proposal from American National Bank of Texas, who offered an interest rate of 2.15 percent. That rate, unlike the rates of other bidders, is not subject to automatic adjustment.
“Interest rates are at historic lows and we do not feel that they will remain at this level through 2018 (when the note could be called),” City Manger Mike Ohrt said.
A certificate of obligation is a bond issued by a city without voter approval, but Palestine tax payers should see no increase to their tax rates, as the debt is to be paid through savings provided to the city by an energy savings contract with Trane.
According to the ordinance, the $2.6 million will be used for the following purposes:
• for acquiring, improving, retrofitting and upgrading HVAC and lighting and lighting control systems in city facilities,
• for designing, acquiring, equipping, and improving water and sewer facilities, including replacement of the non-potable water system, upgrade of existing raw water intake facility electrical distribution systems and acquisition of water meters,
• for acquiring land for city parks and recreation,
• for improving and renovating existing city facilities, and
• for paying professional services of attorneys, financial advisers and other professionals in connection with the project and the issuance of the certificates.
Also during the meeting, the council approved proposed changes to the makeup of the police department to include a composition of one chief of police, two lieutenants, five sergeants, five corporals and 25 patrol sergeants.
The request also included the temporary removal of one of the vacant patrol sergeants, to remove the assistant chief position and to add another lieutenant position and a patrol officer position.
Police Chief Robert Herbert explained that having two lieutenants would allow the department structure to have two main areas — administrative and patrol — with a lieutenant heading up each one. Both lieutenants would answer to the chief.
“It would also allow us to add patrol officers, and we need more officers instead of more chiefs,” Herbert said.
Also on Monday, the council:
• HELD a work session at 4:30 p.m., where council discussed wrecker and towing regulations.
• HELD public hearing regarding adopting rules of the City of Palestine for on-site sewage facilities.
• HEARD the City Manager’s Report, which included setting dates for council staff budget meeting and departmental reports.
• APPROVED the appointment of Dennis Knox to the Zoning Board of Adjustments.
• APPROVED the Consent Agenda, which included consideration of an ordinance canceling the May 11 elections for District 2 and 4 and declaring the unopposed candidates — Vernon Denmon Jr. and James Yelverton, respectively — elected to office; minutes of the work session and regular meeting of Feb. 25.; and consideration of an Ordinance amending the City’s Fee Schedule to include Septage Hauling Fees.
• APPROVED a resolution authorizing a HOME Grant Application submittal to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for a Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance (HRA) Grant.
• APPROVED an ordinance approving a budget amendment for Fiscal Year 2012-13.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org