With water bond passed, Granite Shoals looks at financing

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

After Granite Shoals residents approved a $7 million water bond in the November 5 election, city leaders are taking the next steps to improve the municipality’s water facility, water tower, and water lines.

The city’s bond counselors, Robert Traylor of RBC Financial and Richard Donahue of McCall, Parkhurts and Horton, outlined what needs to happen in the next several weeks.

The election will be canvassed during a special council meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, November 14, at council chambers, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. The counselors reported that Granite Shoals must wait 30 days after the election before issuing bonds, which puts it in the midst of the Christmas season.

The counselors advised City Council not “to go to market until after the first of the year,” City Manager Jeff Looney said.

“Most financial institutions are closed for the holidays,” he said as the reason why.

The advisors told the council it has three choices on how to finance the bond:

• Open market transaction. An insider would place an order, after all appropriate documentation has been filed, to buy or sell restricted securities openly on an exchange.

• Construction and offer negotiated bids. City leaders would “sit down with a bank and negotiate terms you want in the loan or bond itself,” Looney said. “You can solicit some people to bid.”

• Create private placement bids to take to a financial institution. City leaders would decide on a specific bank then bring bond terms to its leaders to see if the two sides can do business, the city manager said.

“(Traylor and Donahue) are leaning to an open market transaction since it’s a 20-year bond,” Looney said. “Even though you have a $7 million bond, you can decide on $4 million first and $3 million later. We can still keep the initiative in the sinking fund in the tax rate that’s the same.”

The city’s priorities are the water facility followed by the water tower and then the first phase of the water lines.

Looney said the work at the water plant and the water tower can coincide. They’ve been examining the work and the best way to execute the improvements with engineer Craig Bell of TRC Companies in Austin.

The city manager noted city leaders want the work on the water tower completed as close to the start of summer as possible.

“(Citizens) are using more water (during that season),” he said. “We want it to be done in early spring. The treatment plant and the water tower can be done together, but it’ll come down to how confident the city engineer feels.”

City leaders are still examining a timeline on when the work will be completed, Looney said.

He commended residents, staff members, council members, committee members, and volunteers for their hard work and dedication in answering questions regarding the water bond.

“It seems that the voters were well-informed and put Granite Shoals first. That is great progress,” Looney said. “We will do our best to serve the public and get the biggest bang for our buck concerning the water projects. Our goal is to be good stewards of the faith and trust the public has given City Council and staff regarding all matters.”

In other business, wildlife committee chairman Jason Brady presented the monthly report on the deer removal program.

He noted that all 28 deer that were harvested in October also were recovered and that the average age of each deer was 2.86 years.

The program donated a little more than 521 pounds of venison, valued at $6,769.74.

The venison was distributed to 20 individuals, six organizations, and two volunteer hunters.

Hunters volunteered 307 hours, which equals $7,742.54 of value if they were paid $25.22 per hour.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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