I serve on both the Mound Fire and St. Boni fire advisory commissions that provide fire service to the city of Minnetrista. Since the Mound fire station was built in 2004 Minnetrista taxpayers have been helping to pay off the bond taken out to build it. Minnetrista annually pays approximately $68K to the city of Mound who will be making their last annual payment of $283K on that debt in 2022.
At the November 20 Mound Fire Commission meeting (Mayor Whalen also serves on the Mound Fire Commission), this money was referred to as a “windfall” amounting to $283K per year that Mound’s supported cities need to decide how, or if, to spend going forward. There appeared to be a presumption at the meeting that the cities would keep remitting their shares of the annual bond payment, even after the bond is retired. This item will be on the January Mound Fire Commission agenda to decide how to allocate this “windfall” and whether or not to spend it on equipment, replenish general fund reserves, or other administrative costs.
I had requested this be put on our December 2 city council agenda for our entire council to weigh in on this decision since this is a significant amount of money ($68K annually x forever). Below is the email I sent to our city administrator (emphasis added in bold). He did not put it on the agenda and suggested, before doing so, that the other council members need to decide if they think this “warrants further discussion.” I, personally, believe this is a decision that belongs to the Minnetrista city council, not the Mound Fire Commission.
From: Shannon Bruce
Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2019 9:16 AM
To: Mike Barone
Subject: URGENT Agenda item for December 2 – Mound Fire $283K bond debt retirement
I think the council needs to weigh in on what Minnetrista’s direction to Mound Fire is going to be on the “windfall” resulting from the retirement of the annual $283K building bond payment in 2023. We need to give Mound direction at our January Fire Commission meeting and I’d like to request this be an agenda item for our December 2 council meeting so we can all be on the same page when we respond. This is a significant amount of money especially since it isn’t just a one-time windfall but could continue indefinitely. I also think it’s important it be an agenda item rather than a work session simply because of the significance. Here are some of the options to present to the council:
1) Retire the debt but keep Minnetrista’s future payments the same (allowing Mound Fire to use the annual windfall indefinitely for future CIP, Fire Dist organizational costs, other needs etc.);
2) Retire the debt and reduce Minnetrista’s portion going forward (Mound Fire would need to ask for additional CIP/Fire Dist org costs, other future needs);
3) Allow using a portion of the first year’s windfall to replenish Mound Fire’s reserves that have been used in anticipation of the coming windfall but otherwise reduce Minnetrista’s portion going forward; or
4) Allow using a portion of the first year’s windfall to pay for Fire District organization costs in addition to replenishing Mound Fire’s reserves but otherwise reduce Minnetrista’s portion going forward.
There are, of course, other combinations of the above we may arrive at but because of the significance I think it’s important to have a vote on this.