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Owensboro Commission Reluctantly Approves OMU Bond Restructuring

Owensboro Seal 01 300OWENSBORO, Ky. (5/7/2013) – At the Owensboro Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night, a $92 million bond issue presented during the Commission meeting was approved after commissioners expressed concern about the current financial status of OMU.

Concerning the issuance of the revenue bonds, Mayor Ron Payne said, “This certainly is a tough decision, but I see no alternative. It is essential to keep electric rate costs as low as possible.”

Commissioners certainly seemed hesitant about enacting the new ordinance Tuesday night. Commissioner Pam Smith-Wright said she didn’t believe the commission had been allowed ample time to study it.

“I don’t fully understand this,” she said. “It was hard to make a wise decision, having only received this information two days ago. We all know, however, that when times get tough, you have to make tough decisions… Please look for ways to cut costs and be more financially prudent.”

Commissioners commended OMU and the OMU board for their previous work in Owensboro. However, members of the commission also gave their view on the ordinance.

“A rate increase is still a rate increase,” said Commissioner Bob Glenn. “For the single parents, fixed income families, and under employees, it will be tough.”

Speaking with SurfKY today, an OMU spokesperson said the entity is borrowing approximately $42 million in new debt to provide capital improvements to its infrastructure, specifically the Elmer Smith Power Station and the wires and poles distribution system, while also refinancing up to $48 million in old debt.

“We do not anticipate a rate increase at this time,” said OMU Media consultant Sonya Dixon. “By refinancing we are pushing our debt out to 2027, but we will be able to mitigate a base rate increase for our customers.”

During the meeting Tuesday, OMU officials stated that the decision to refinance had not been made lightly, stating that it made sense to borrow money at this time because it would allow OMU to take advantage of a recovering market in the future when energy prices are higher.

In other business, presentations were given recognizing a special significance of the month of May. Mayor Ron Payne publicly declared May to be hereafter known as Older American’s month, while also discussing the need for a new senior center in the Owensboro area.

May is also Bike month, Payne said during a presentation during in which he stated his support for a countywide bike trail that would include expansions to Owensboro’s current Greenbelt Park Trails, a system of trails that is approximately 15 miles in length.

A special events update was presented by Owensboro Special Events Director Tim Ross. Ross informed the commission of upcoming events in Owensboro, which include but are not limited to the International Bar-B-Q Festival, Downtown Date Night, the visit of the John Lennon Educational Tour bus on May 23, and several Memorial Day ceremonies.

A budget amendment was proposed and approved to allow Owensboro Police Department to send one officer to a Hazardous Device training school, and the budget for the 2014 fiscal year was given its first reading.

Before adjourning, the Mayor noted the recent announcement regarding the acquisition and plan to renovate Gabe’s Tower. The tower was sold to Ken Bello of Levittown, Penn. Of the sale, Mayor Payne stated, “I believe we will see a great project take place there.”

Alex Reid
SurfKY News

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