SPARTA—The Monroe County Board of Supervisors Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of general obligation bonds to fund the county’s new nursing home and senior living center during the board’s regular monthly meeting.
The bonding is not to exceed $16 million.
The vote to approve was 13-3 with supervisors Carol Las, Paul Steele and Dan Olson dissenting.
Bradley D. Viegut, the county’s financial advisor and managing director with Baird Financial Advisors, said the bonding is two-phased with two bonds, a larger − $9.5 million bond to possibly be approved at the Jan. 24 county board meeting and a smaller $6.5 million bond to be finalized by December 2018.
The rationale behind the approach is to lock in a low interest rate for the larger portion of the project so if interest rates increase over the life of the project, little impact will be felt because the loan will be locked at a lower rate.
Steele said he was concerned about approving the bonding because of the $16 million price tag. He made a motion to take $4 million from the general fund and bond for only $12 million in an effort to pay the debt faster. The motion failed due to lack of a second.
“My issue ... is there a better alternative to save us interest and get it paid off faster?” Steele said. “If there’s a way we can pay this off faster, it makes more sense to me.”
Olson was concerned the county was bonding too early without enough details and plans in motion.
“I think it’s foolish to be bonding for money now,” he said. “If we need to pay architecture fees so that plans can be drawn up and then based on those plans that you put out for bids ... we come back with a firm number as to what we’re going to be spending money on here. We’re not even sure where it’s going to go yet, and here we are spending money.”
Supervisor Mary Von Ruden disagreed. She said the county has enough information.
“We passed a resolution that it would be on the east side of County B, which I know can be changed ... but that’s what our resolution says, and we already have an architect,” she said. “If we’re going to get this started in April, we need to move now.”
In August supervisors approved Community Living Solutions as the architect firm for the construction of the new facility, and in September the board approved a site for the facility on Hwy. B across the road from the existing facility.
Supervisor Dean Peterson said the funding needs to be taken care of now.
“We need to get the funding so we know that we can go forward with the project, not wait to do the project and then not get the funding,” he said.
Supervisor Pete Peterson agreed.
“We need to approve this bond because you can’t work without having money available,” he said. “You’ve got to have the money available to do the work. ... Everything we did on this nursing home situation has been methodical and one step at a time. We’re at the step right now where we need to approve the bonding.”