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City to hear from schools on bill refusal

Staff writer

USD 408 school board president Nick Kraus told board members Monday he’ll likely address Marion city council next week about the city’s refusal to pick up the tab for its half of expenses or make bond payments for the jointly-owned sports and aquatic center.

The district sent invoices in January to cover July through December pool expenses. The district billed the city $23,259.21 for pool expenses, $50,000 for half of the annual bond payment, and $9,000 for half of three years’ building insurance, which it had not billed since 2017.

Those are the invoices the city decided, on a 2-1 vote, not to pay.

Council members Jerry Kline and Chris Costello recused themselves from the vote, mayor David Mayfield and councilman Susan Gray voted to withhold payment, and councilman Ruth Herbel voted against withholding payment.

The city earlier disputed November invoices, and paid only a portion. Later the city paid the rest of the bill.

“All of you got a letter this week from the city on the pool agreement,” superintendent Aaron Homburg told board members. “As far as I know we have not changed a thing.”

Robson’s letter outlined the city’s stance on payments to the school district.

“As of this time it is the city’s position to no longer assist with the bond payments or share in the operating expenses of the pool,” Robson’s letter said.

Robson wrote that she “took the liberty of looking through the documents surrounding the pool.”

No resolution was passed by the city council regarding an obligation to pay toward the bonds, she wrote.

“In 2006 a motion was passed by the council authorizing payments for the life of the bonds, the original bonds,” Robson wrote. “The original financing for the bonds called for the bonds to be paid off in 10 years. The bonds were refinanced by the school and extended beyond the 10 years. Refinancing these bonds gave the school a savings in interest. I cannot find any documentation that shows the city was consulted about the refinancing.”

Despite Robson’s assertion that the bonds were expected to be paid off in 10 years, a municipal bond market website shows the first bond payment was due in 2008 and the final bond payment is due in 2024.

The school district did refinance in 2015, but the final bond payment is still due in 2024.

Board president Nick Kraus said he’d spoken Saturday with Lee Leiker, who was superintendent when the pool agreement between the school and the city was drawn up.

“He said how this whole deal got started when the city pool was leaking badly,” Kraus said. “They agreed to pay $100,000 a year for 18 years.”

Kraus said he may try to get on Monday’s city council agenda.

“We’re looking at it from a management standpoint and they’re looking at it from a business agreement,” Kraus said.

Robson’s letter said an interlocal agreement was signed in 2006. A letter agreement in 2008 mentioned splitting expenses. It also said the agreement was to be reviewed in June 2010.

“This agreement does not appear to have been reviewed,” Robson wrote. “If you have any other documentation that covers the city and school’s agreement as to the paying of the bonds or expenses, please provide.”

“In my estimation, we have an agreement in place,” Homburg said. “Now if they’re looking at costs after the bond is paid off, I have no objection to that.”

Last modified Feb. 18, 2021

 

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