I'd also like to thank the people who have come out of the woodwork to congratulate me and to offer advice going forward. Part of the reason this week's weekly post is late is because I've been scrambling for several days to respond and reach out to lots of people who have helped me reach this point and will be involved going forward.
I'll be officially installed as an alderman next week, so I'm spending most of this week working on getting ready for the transition. I'm meeting with department heads and others every day this week to help get myself ready to hit the ground running after Tuesday.
In the meantime, the council does have one last week of committee meetings scheduled before the changeover, although many of the committees have cancelled their gatherings. There is, however, one meeting I'll be attending and watching closely:
The Finance Committee will meet Wednesday at 5 pm, and one of their action items again deals with the interest rate charges to residents who finance their special assessment charges with the city.
For years the city had charged a flat 9% interest rate on these assessments, until changing it to 6% last year to reflect a general change in interest rates across the board. This year the Finance Committee is looking at establishing a plan for tying this rate to a clear metric to allow it to adjust itself over time.
While I strongly agree with the notion of tying the rate to an existing metric, the current proposal would have established this year's interest rate right around 9%, right back where we started.
The current proposal calls for the city to use a home equity loan rate published on bankrate.com, then tack on an extra 2% as part of an effort to avoid competing with local banking institutions. I have concerns with this proposal for a couple of reasons:
- As Alderman Stueck noted in the last Finance Committee meeting, the rate being used is multiple percentage points higher than what Bankrate.com shows as the average interest rate for a home equity line of credit, which could also be considered an applicable comparison here.
- I think 2% may represent too high of a bump up from the rates in question. I think the council needs to be careful not to gouge our taxpayers here by creating too large of a buffer.