Commissioners approve bid of bond counselors
Leavenworth County Commissioners have given the go-ahead for bond counselors with an OppenheimerFunds branch in Overland Park to begin preparing and marketing a multimillion-dollar general obligation bond that will finance various capital improvements in the county including work on County Road 1 south and west of Tonganoxie.
In a unanimous vote Thursday, commissioners awarded a bid to OppenheimerFunds, one of five financial firms that bid on the board's request for proposals.
Although a specific amount has not been determined, County Counselor David Van Parys said he anticipates a bond issue of around $18 million, to be reimbursed out of the voter-approved 1-cent sales tax that runs through 2016.
He noted a number of additional fixed costs associated with the issuance of the bond, including insurance premiums, bond counsel fees, financial advisory fees and state treasurer certification.
In the bids received, Van Parys said those costs ranged from approximately $46,000 to $66,000 quarterly.
He encouraged commissioners, however, to take a qualitative look at the bids submitted rather than simply making a decision based on the lowest fee.
Van Parys suggested choosing a firm based on the experience of the employees that would be handling the bond issue, the company's ability to market the bond to the greatest advantage of the county and the company's experience with bond issues in the state of Kansas.
He said, "Given the volatility of the bond market, we want someone really working with staff and helping us through this process."
According to Leavenworth County Public Works director Mike Spickelmier, sales tax revenues, in addition to funding County Road 1 work, could potentially pay for improvements to County Road 8 (Fairmount Road) and County Road 5 (Tonganoxie Road).
Leavenworth resident Louis Klemp, who was present at Thursday's meeting, asked, "Are we not at the same time : taking into consideration what we're going to have to pay to the state for the communications (upgrade)?"
Van Parys explained that the anticipated funding for a countywide communications upgrade, which will allow interoperability between all emergency service providers in the county, would be through a state-financed bond.
He said he anticipates using a lease-purchase agreement thus taking advantage of the state's "increased borrowing power" to repay that bonded debt over a 10-year period.
The communications upgrade, last estimated at $12.8 million, is the other major expenditure of sales tax revenue that the board has considered.
In regard to the OppenheimerFunds bond, Van Parys said it should be issued within 60 or 90 days in order to meet a construction timetable for County Road 1.
In other business Thursday, the board:
¢ Heard a monthly report from county public works employees.
In that report, Spickelmier informed commissioners that the department has already expended over $370,000 through March in local service gravel road maintenance out of approximately $600,000 budgeted for the entire year.
He said with an abundance of inclement weather this winter, the county is in a dilemma that many other communities are facing.
According to assistant road and bridge superintendent Doug Smith, trucks have been out laying gravel already 33 times this year compared to what Spickelmier said was an average of 15 to 20 times annually.
Commissioner J.C. Tellefson questioned whether it would be prudent to step back and focus mainly on gravel roads next year instead of paving five miles of county road as is customary.
Commissioners then approved the low bid for three 1-ton pickup trucks from Danny Zeck Ford at a total cost of $80,370.
John Behne, with the noxious weeds department, said an initial shipment of weed-combating chemicals has been received from McGraw Fertilizer of Tonganoxie and will be made available to landowners at a discounted rate beginning May 1.
Other projects Spickelmier mentioned were installing a salt and sand storage facility west of Amelia Earhart Road and Round Prairie Drive in northern Leavenworth County, finishing shoulder work on 147th Street from McIntyre Road to Dempsey Road and a study measuring the reflectivity of all county road signs to be undertaken this summer.
¢ Voted, 3-0, to vacate a drainage and utility easement between two adjoining lots in the Cedar Lakes subdivision, phase 4, south of Basehor.
¢ Approved, 3-0, a renewal application from Charles and Carol Simpson, 17194 Springdale Rd., for a 10-year special use permit to operate a personal dog kennel.