By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Quincy City Council approved a plan Tuesday night to refinance one bond and one loan to save more than $210,000 in interest payments over the next seven years.
The loan, used for the heating and air-conditioning upgrades at City Hall, has $917,031 in principal remaining. At 2.08 percent annual interest over seven years from Peoples Prosperity Bank, the city should save $141,083 in interest payments and knock 30 months off the payment schedule. The city currently has a monthly payment of $9,888 for the HVAC loan, which has an annual interest rate of 4.47 percent. By reducing the length to seven years, the city will see monthly payments increase to $11,834.
Alderman Mike Rein, R-5, asked if the city's budget could absorb the additional $2,000 a month on the loan.
Comptroller Ann Scott said the city can use money from its green energy fund, which comes from a 10-year, $1.5-million franchise agreement with Ameren Illinois that was approved in 2011.
Scott said the money the city receives from the franchise agreement increases annually.
"So the increase will be enough to cover the difference," she said.
The $1.3 million project replaced the old boiler with two new ones and installed new rooftop AC units, which created 62 independent heating and cooling zones in the building. The city has used energy savings from the project to pay off the loan.
Aldermen approved the proposal by a 13-0 vote. Aldermen Jim Musolino, R-6, was absent.
Aldermen also refinanced the general obligation bond sold in 1996 to help build the Oakley-Lindsay Center, which has $825,000 remaining in principal. The city has paid 5.75 percent annual interest. The new annual interest rate of 1.6 percent from First Bankers Trust is expected to save the city $72,623 over the next four years. The bond is paid through the city's hotel-motel tax.
The bond payment passed by a 12-0 vote. Alderman Dan Brink, R-6 abstained, because he works for First Bankers Trust.
In other business, aldermen concurred with a plan from the Traffic Commission to install two solar-powered pedestrian warning signs on Chestnut between 18th and 20th streets and north-south crosswalk markings at 20th and Chestnut. The City Council also agreed with the recommendation to install 250-watt bulbs instead of the current 100-watt bulbs to improve lighting.
This comes after Quincy University student Shannon L. Peters, 19, of Elk Grove Village, was struck while trying to cross Chestnut about 350 feet east of the intersection at 18th Street on Jan. 7.
The university agreed to buy the signs, which cost about $1,700.
Rein asked Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley if there was a city ordinance against crossing in the middle of a street.
Copley said it is legal if the street is not bordered by two stop signals, as long as the pedestrian crosses in a straight line and yields to vehicles.
The City Council also:
º Approved a request by Alderman Paul Havermale, R-3, to have an update on any additional hydropower expenses that the city incurred since aldermen received a report more than 18 months ago. He said it appeared the city has spent $69,000 on hydro-related expenses.
"Now to be fair, the original report was well over a year-and-a-half old," he said. "I just want an explanation of what's going on."
Scott said she believes many of the expenses were related to paying off the $6.6 million bond taken out in 2009 to pay for licensing fees.
º Forwarded a lawsuit to the city's Legal Department. The city, along with Burlington Junction Railway and the North Side Boat Club, were served summons on a lawsuit filed by Gary Straus after he "sustained disabling injuries" on Aug. 4, 2012. Corporation Counsel Andrew Staff told aldermen that he did not know the details of the suit and it was sent to the city's insurance carrier.
º Watched as Quincy Police Department Detective Anjanette Biswell was named the department's Employee of the Year.