City saves $900,000 by refinancing debt
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

March 4, 2005 -- Sulphur Springs City Council members saved more than $900,000 Tuesday evening by refinancing some of the city's bonded indebtedness.

The refunding, or refinancing, is a standard practice through which the city issues tax and revenue refunding bonds to pay off earlier bonds and realize a savings through lower interest rates.

The interest rate on the new bonds was established at 3.57 percent, according to Dan Almon of Southwest Securities in Dallas, who serves as bond consultant for the city.

Almon said the action was a straightforward move to reduce the city's debt through reduced interest rates and save the money.

"This is one of the best re-funds I have ever seen," Almon said.

Action to authorize the resolution came after an hour-long question and answer session between Council member Larry Powers and Almon, in which a number of different aspects of financing through tax and revenue bonds were addressed.

The council then quickly moved through second and final readings of ordinances rezoning property at 1272 and 1275 Texas St. from single family residential to heavy commercial.

Four agenda items addressed replats of several properties in the city.

Two lots on Radio Road east of Tennessee St. were replatted into a single lot at the request of Lydia Bryant, owner of Sulphur Springs Floral. Bryant has plans to construct a new building to house the floral business on the lot.

The item was approved by the council with Bryant, who also represents Place 7 on the council, not voting.

Approval was also given to a request to consolidate two lots on the north side of Weaver Drive at Foscue Street into a single lot at the request of property owners Larry and Evelyn McMillan.

After some discussion, council members approved the final plat phase for Phase II, Stone Briar Addition, as requested by owner Matthew Hanna.

Hanna is planning to construct as many as 100 new homes in the new addition, located off of State Highway 11 near the western city limits.

Much of the discussion concerned an emergency access that would be needed from the new development to Lover's Lane. City staff and the developer agreed the access would not be used for routine or daily traffic in the development that will have only cul-de-sac streets.

Approval was also given to a request from developer Louis Ardis for a preliminary plat for the planned Park Springs Estates, a single-family residential development on Park Springs Road.

Two substandard buildings were recommended by city staff to the council for abatement or demolition. The properties are located at 219 Calvert St. and 501 Carter St.

An heir to the Calvert Street property appeared before the council asking for a time extension to allow family members to remove some of the secondary buildings on the lot before the city demolishes the main structure.

The request, which would involve less cost for the property owner, was unanimously approved by the council.

A lengthy and often heated discussion developed as the council heard the staff request for abatement of the house at 501 Calvert.

Ed Rosamond, owner of the vacant house, asked the council to put demolition of the house on hold until he had time to evaluate the structure for possible renovation. Rosamond owns or manages a number of rental houses in the city.

Johnny Vance, the city's director of community development who is also responsible for issuing building permits and managing abatement proceedings, told the council there was no reason to consider the request because city codes would not allow him to issue a permit for work on the house.

Vance cited a long list of problems with the house and said it had been unoccupied for a number of years.

Rosamond countered Vance's comments, saying Vance had never been in the house and could not know whether it was a dangerous structure or not. He also questioned the way Vance administered the city's building codes.

Rosamond told the council he purchased the property in 2003 and was planning to develop the structure into economical housing for the community.

Councilman Freddie Taylor quizzed Rosamond about the length of time he had owned the building and why, after two years, did he finally decide to bring the house up to city standards?

The property owner continued to challenge city codes and requirements as well as attempt to introduce other properties he owns or manages and has returned to acceptable condition.

The discussion ground to a halt after Councilman Garry Jordon introduced a motion that would grant Rosamond 60 days to evaluate the building and present an acceptable plan for rebuilding. If the plan were not presented at that time, the motion calls for immediate demolition of the house.

No action was taken on the agenda item regarding possible city intervention into a filing by Cox Communications for determination of effective competition with the Federal Communications Commission.

City Manager Marc Maxwell, in recommending the council not intervene, said the determination of effective competition is based on competition from other providers as a factor in rates charged by the cable television provider.

Maxwell said he has been in contact with several other cities, including Paris and Tyler, about the case and recommended the city not intervene in the filing.

After more discussion, council members agreed to table the item.

Before ending their meeting, council members approved a motion by Garry Jordan to direct the city's planning and zoning commission to create a draft plan for the revitalization of the city's downtown area.

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