Minden City Council delays financing for meter project

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The Minden City Council’s decision to pass a resolution to fund the roughly $3 million electric and water meter infrastructure project has been delayed pending another workshop.
In Monday’s meeting, the council voted to formally approve AquaMetrics/Sensus as the contractor to begin replacing the city’s aging water and electric meters but held up on adopting the resolution that would have funded the project. The motion to approve the contractor was amended to add “pending council approval of financing parameters.”

The motion passed 4-1, with Vincen Bradford the lone vote against. District A Councilman Wayne Edwards says the reason for asking for the motion amendment will come out in the workshop.

“I think we can do better on the financing,” he said, following the meeting. “We’re going to discuss it in the workshop and talk about it in further detail.”

He declined to expand on his answer, saying it would all come out in the workshop.

District D Councilman Mike Toland says some of the council members were taking issue with the way the project will be paid for.

He says the options on the table are the lease/purchase with no down payment (the option most discussed in recent workshops), lease/purchase with a down payment coming from reserves or a bond issue.

“We’ve got projected savings of what it’s going to cost to finance this system, and if the projected numbers are correct, we’re going to make $5 million off of this over the 20 years,” he said. “A good portion of that is actually savings.”

The savings, he emphasized, comes from a 10 percent savings by installing the new system.

He says some of the council members are concerned it might not save 10 percent.

“They would like to look at all the finance options,” he said. “Some of the council members are concerned that if we don’t save the 10 percent like we think we will, it’s going to actually end up costing us money instead of us putting money in the bank.”

The city would pay roughly $356,000 per year over 10 years, if they decide to go with the option of the lease/purchase with no money down. He explained the second option, the lease/purchase with a down payment, would reduce the payments over the 10-year period and save them money.

Toland’s personal preference is to finance all of it, and if at some point, they need to put some money down, they can pull it from reserves then to help with cash flow.

“Some of them were not convinced this was the correct number,” he said. “We discussed all these options at the last workshop and I was prepared to discuss every option tonight and vote on it tonight.”

Mayor Tommy Davis says even though they got the contract approved, it doesn’t work without the financing.

The workshop has been set for 1 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6 with a special meeting to possibly follow after the 24-hour notice as required by law.

“We just have to decide now what form of financing we want to use,” Toland said. “And that will be resolved with this meeting. The options are this: Do we want to finance 100 percent or how much do we want to put down to reduce the payments?”

The project will include the installation of an electronic radio system, software and the meters throughout Minden. The entire installation process will take about a year, Davis said.

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