General Obligation Bond To Appear On November Ballot For Wolf Point

A resolution to the taxpayers of Wolf Point for a general obligation bond to pay for rehabilitation to the city pool will appear on the midterm ballot in November.

The city will request allowance to issue a GO bond in the amount of $250,000 to rehabilitate the city’s swimming pool. Additionally the city would refinance its current GO balance of $156,019.40 to obtain a lower interest rate.

The city is pursuing this GO bond because it was granted $150,000 from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Land and Water Conservation Fund for pool rehabilitation. In order to receive this grant, the city must provide a match to the grant monies. This gives an estimated total of $400,000 in funding for pool renovations.

Resolution No. 919-2018 will appear on the general election ballot in November.

This would be the second time the city pool has been rehabilitated. In 2005, a bond was put forth to the voters to rehab the pool. That bond was approved by the voters and the city went to work improving the pool. That GO bond is over 10 years old at this point which, by law, allows for it to be refinanced at a lower interest rate.

The annual payment on this bond is $26,584, with a payment currently scheduled for January. After that payment, the balance on the 2005 GO bond will lower from $156,019.40 to somewhere around $138,000. This approximate $138,000 will be the remaining balance on the bond that is refinanced if the voters approve the resolution in November. That balance will be paid off over the following six years alongside the $250,000 2019 GO bond, which aims to begin in August 2019 at the start of the fiscal year. The lower interest rate will be pursued in the interest of savings to the taxpayer.

The idea to pursue the grant monies and eventual bond came from the relatively poor condition of the city pool. Both the pool house and pool are in poor condition. In February, Interstate Engineering assessed the condition of the pool. The water department and certified pool operator Ken Luckow have worked hard to keep the pool building insulated and the setup in working condition.

Shortly after this assessment, the city council authorized Interstate to pursue the LWCF grant money. The grant was approved for Wolf Point in July.

With $150,000 in grant monies on the table, the city decided their best option was to pursue a GO bond via the taxpayers to fully rehabilitate the pool. If approved by the taxpayers, the funds would be used for painting, piping and a heavily rehabilitated pool house. If the bond is approved, the city would have the authority to pursue up to $400,000 for this project. However, depending on bids for the labor, the cost could wind up being less than that.

The new $250,000 GO bond would be financed over the following 20 years starting in FY 2019-20. The refinanced 2005 GO bond would be refinanced and paid off for the following six years. This leads to some overlap or “piggyback” in the GO bond balance.

City clerk Marlene Mahlum made it clear that it was the council’s intent to not increase the levy against the taxpayers long term. However, there would be about six years where payments from taxpayers against the GO bonds would be higher. Mahlum stated that relatively six years is an increase in the short term.

There is no way of calculating what the new payment would be prior to refinancing the 2005 GO bond balance. This is because cost is largely tied to interest rate and the new lower interest rate won’t be known until after the taxpayers vote on the new GO bond.

The estimated costs for the $250,000 GO bond is $14.45 per year on home with a $100,000 taxable value and $28.89 on a home with a $200,000 taxable value. It is important to note that the 2019 GO bond and 2005 GO bond would be rolled into one balance/payment, in the interest of not splitting payments and keeping the burden off the taxpayers.

Mahlum, who worked with bond council Bob Murdo in drafting 919-2018, hopes that the Wolf Point community will support the city in their efforts to rehabilitate the pool.

“It’s one of our only means of recreation in the city. Kids use the pool every year and they deserve an improved pool,” said Mahlum.

The city pool is routinely the item of the most significance discussed by the city’s parks and recreation committee.