County to use loan for E-911 system | News, Sports, Jobs
The Marshall County Supervisory Board decided to use a capital loan from a Marshall County bank to pay for the emergency communication system update.
The decision was made at the regular meeting on Tuesday, during a discussion supervisors had on how to fund the $ 2.6 million project.
Auditor Nan Benson said county employees spoke with lawyers from Ahlers & Cooney, a Des Moines law firm that represents Marshall County on the project, and learned that the project is considered an essential objective. Thus, he would not need to go to a public vote. As a result, the county can get a loan or bond, which Benson says is essential-purpose funding.
Until a public hearing is held, it is recommended that the county not sign the $ 2.6 million contract with RACOM to update the emergency communications system.
Supervisor Dave Thompson asked if the county had heard from the fire departments how much money they would need to purchase the equipment needed to operate with the updated communications system.
“I have about $ 700,000 in our estimate,” said Benson. “I have three ‘no’s. They don’t need anything. I’ve heard of one who has a total of $ 40,000 that he might need it.
She said that some departments might not need full funding, but rather some.
Jeff Heil, a former county auditor, said the finance options are a general obligation or an equity loan note. A bond is a public option, and he said it’s a “All or nothing” situation.
“When you go to the public sale, it goes to the whole financial market”, Heil said.
He said the more bonds were issued, like eight or ten years, the less money you wanted. Equity lending has options like working with only one bank, having a negotiated sale with a registered security, or having an actual sale – by submitting the offer to local banks.
“You don’t have to decide which of these avenues today. Today you have to decide if you want to let the bank participate or just do a public auction ”, Heil said. “Today all you have to do is prepare to settle the hearing.”
Thompson said he would prefer to keep as much funding as possible locally.
“The work you save can be yours” he said. “I know there is not a lot of demand in our local banks right now for some of their funds. I think it’s important that we buy local and keep it at home, give our local banks the opportunity to do business.
Supervisor Steve Salasek agreed and said they could have more flexibility with local banks.
The effort to update the failed emergency communications system has been underway within the county government for a year. In December 2019, supervisors heard about the issues – lost emergency calls, inability to hear speakers. However, funding was not immediately available. Since then, they have spent numerous meetings discussing the need to update the system and figuring out how to pay for it.
The date for the public hearing will be set at the regular meeting on January 5.
“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever had to make” said Salasek. “I think about it at night and it’s not good. I don’t like to think about this stuff.
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