McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

December 13, 2012

City councilors vote to save millions for tax payers.

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — “Merry Christmas.”

That’s what McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak said after the council approved a resolution to refinance an existing bond, saving the City some $7.5 million.

The McAlester City Council met in council chambers Tuesday night for their regular meeting at McAlester City Hall.

The councilors voted unanimously to approve a resolution to refinance the City’s existing 1999A Refunding and Improvement Revenue Bond.

Jon Wolff, of Municipal Finance Services Inc. of Edmond and attorney Allan Brooks, of the Public Finance Law Group in Oklahoma City, were back again this week and presented an offer the council apparently could not refuse.

This is the second appearance before the council for Wolff and Brooks.

 During their first, at the last council meeting, Wolff told the council that they were hoping to get a 4 percent interest rate, which could amount to more than $7 million in savings.

Also at the last meeting which was attended by three councilmen and garnered a quorum with Mayor Steve Harrison. Brooks said he wanted assurance that all councilors would be present because before the measure could only be refinanced with a “super majority” consisting of at least six votes from the council is required by state law.

This week with all the councilors at thier posts, Wolff said the Bank of America offered a 3.8 percent interest rate, a savings of “just under a hair of 7.5 million.”

Because of the refinancing the City increased the savings level over the life of the loan, Wolff said.

“We’ve increased the savings level $1.5 million,” he said.

The approval of the refinance follows a vote of the citizens of McAlester.

In November, City voters cast ballots on two measures during a Special Election for the city of McAlester.

The first, called Proposition No. 1 was approved by voters. The proposition asked voters to approve a $40 million package to refinance the McAlester Public Works Authority’s 1999A Revenue Bonds.

The second, Proposition 2, was voted down by the voters.

The proposition, if approved, would have allowed the authority to levy a one-cent sales tax, to supersede a current tax.

Since the second measure failed, the city could only utilize the first one, which dealt with refinancing the bond in question.

The money which will be saved in interest rates could not be used for anything except for paying down the existing bond, according to Wolff.

With the passing of the resolution, Stasiak said he was pleased.

“Merry Christmas to us,” he said.

Also present at Tuesdays meeting was Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith, Ward 2 councilor John Titsworth, Ward 3 Councilor Travis Reed, Ward 4 Councilor Robert Karr, Ward 5 Councilor Buddy Garvin, Ward 6 Councilor Sam Mason and City Attorney Joe Ervin.

The council meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in council chambers at McAlester City Hall.

Senior Editor James Beaty also contributed to this report.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.