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City Utilities to refinance sewer bonds

– Like millions of homeowners, City Utilities is refinancing.

Board of Public Works members Wednesday voted to begin the process of re-issuing $28.8 million in sewer revenue bonds, issued in four sets in 2002 and 2003, to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Deputy Director of Business Services Len Poehler estimated the refinancing, which will not extend the length of the payment period, will save more than $2 million in interest.

Poehler said the bonds could have been refinanced earlier this year, but officials waited because they believed interest rates were going to drop further. They did, he said, and waiting those few months saved an additional $400,000.

Now, Poehler said, rates are expected to go up slightly in the coming months, and this is the time to act.

To refinance the bonds, officials said, new bonds must be issued first at the lower rate. The money from those is then used to pay off the old, higher-interest bonds. Like the originals, the new bond repayment ends in 2023.

Because it involves issuing $28.8 million in new bonds, the move must also be approved by the City Council.

Gauge maintenance

The board approved the annual maintenance agreements for the gauges that report river levels. One agreement covers 10 gauges around the city for its Early Flood Warning System and includes the city, the state and the U.S. Geological Survey. The city’s share of the cost is $25,950.

A second, separate agreement covers the gauge on the St. Marys River in Rockford, Ohio, that was installed after the 2003 flood caught officials unaware a historic flood was headed downstream. The cost of maintaining that gauge is split among the city of Fort Wayne, the city of Decatur, the Maumee River Basin Commission and Adams County. Fort Wayne’s share is $2,475.

The board also approved bids for improvements at three lift stations totaling $948,343.35.

The Board of Stormwater Management voted to move forward with a drainage project in the Tamarack addition. The project will install 1,600 feet of storm sewers along Reed Road between Trier and Stellhorn. Bids on the work are expected to be opened Nov. 7.