POLK COUNTY WILL REVIEW REQUEST TO ISSUE DEBT TO WATERSHED DISTRICTS, HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT

The Polk County Commissioners met Tuesday morning at the Polk County Government Center.  Passed as part of their consent agenda were the current auditor warrants from March 5 totaling $143,521.20, from March 12 totaling $423,767.17 and March 19 totaling $285,807.76 and bills of less than $2,000 which totaled $1,612.04.

Polk County Administrator Chuck Whiting presented requests for debt issuance from the Red Lake, Middle-Snake-Tamarac and Sand Hill watersheds, along with a request from the Highway Department for the five-year CSAH improvement plan.   “Three of the watersheds we have in the county are looking to do some improvements,” said Whiting.  “They have talked to the county about issuing some debt service to them as one of their ways to pay for some of these projects.  The county has done this many times before so it’s fairly routine.  In working with them we also work with our highway department to address some County State Aid Highways.  These are county highways that we get state funding for.  We’ve done this before as well.  We group four to five years with of projects together, issue a bond and have the state aid money pay back the debt service so it doesn’t hit the levy at all.  Put the three watersheds and the county together its almost a $10 million debt issue and we get a lot of work out of it.”

The total bond issuance would come out to $9,745,000 which keeps the county under the bank qualification threshold resulting in a lower interest rate explained Whiting.  “$10 million is what they call a bank qualification threshold,” said Whiting.  “Staying under it for a county our size gets us just a slightly lower interest rate than we would if we went over it.  We’ve maybe used that twice since I’ve been here as a threshold to not exceed.  It happens to work out that the three watersheds coupled with the county’s highway projects can stay right under that amount.”

The board passed a motion to go ahead with the debt schedule and final approval of the bonds would be made when the board awards the winning bond bid scheduled for May 7.  The board also reviewed the 2020 budget preparation calendar that they and county department heads will use to set benchmarks for creating the 2020 budget.  “It’s never too early I guess to start on a budget,” said Whiting.  “We’re already looking ahead to 2020.  We’ve done this every year.  We put together a calendar of meetings and benchmarks of where we should be in the process with department heads, board meetings, and discussion through the end of December when the final budget is approved, and the levy is adopted.”

The finalized calendar published in the minutes will set the board’s budget public hearing for Tuesday, December 3, with the final approval of the budget and levy on December 17.  The final item approved by the board was a temporary liquor license for the Knights of Columbus #5341 and Holy Trinity Catholic Church of Tabor for the May 26 Johnny Holms Concert at Maple Lake Pavilion.