January has five Wednesdays this year, and typically the week of the fifth Wednesday would be an off week for the Appleton Common Council. This week, however, one special meeting is scheduled and it's a pretty significant one:
Appleton Redevelopment Authority, Wednesday, 4:30 pm
The permanent financing process for the Fox Cities Exhibition Center will hopefully take another step forward this week as the ARA, who will hold the final debt for the project, is expected to act upon the Appleton Common Council's recommendation regarding the funding option.
On January 17 the council voted to recommend a borrowing package presented by Robert W. Baird and Company that called for the project to be financed via bonding instead of private placement of the debt, which had previously been presented to us as the city's best option. The biggest difference between the two options is the variability of the interest rate: Bonding provides a guaranteed rate for the duration of the repayment, while private placement rates would have been adjusted every five years based on interest rate fluctuation.
On Wednesday the ARA will receive a presentation from Baird on the council-recommended option. If they wish to approve that option, they will also need to rescind a previous action taken in August that advanced them down the private placement path. Assuming they take both of those steps, Baird will be able to start the 60-day bonding process. Between now and the end of that process we will need all of our partner municipalities to sign onto the final agreement.
If everything remains on schedule, the final authorization to sell bonds could happen as soon as the first week in April. I'm hopeful the ARA will take action this week to keep this process moving forward, as the costs for delay are significant: These final loans will repay short term loans from the city's general fund, which continues to lose out on potential interest income while waiting to be made whole. Last week the Finance Committee approved a resolution calling for the city's lost interest income to be repaid as part of the bonding process. Nonetheless, that lost income figure will continue to grow until permanent financing for the project is in place.
You can see all of this week's meeting agendas and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.
Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.