Plan for pension obligation bonds still on the table

ROCHELLE — No action was taken following a public hearing concerning the issuance of the pension obligation bonds during Monday evening’s Rochelle City Council meeting. 

Council heard presentations from Rochelle city manager Jeff Fiegenschuh and actuary Todd Schroeder with Lauterbach and Amen, LLP. 

The city is researching an option to sell bonds in the amount not to exceed $15 million to fund all or a portion of the unfunded police and fire pension funds. 

Although a date has not been set, it was determined that at least one more public hearing is necessary to give residents an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.

“I think it’s important to have a couple more public hearings… I’m going to have another public meeting at some point to discuss and answer any questions,” Fiegenschuh said following the meeting. “We will continue to monitor the market and see how it goes and if council feels comfortable we will come back and move forward. If not, we will continue to pay as we go, and put a plan in place that we can pay extra on pensions every year to buy down that unfunded liability.”

Infrastructure bonds

Council also held a second public hearing concerning the issuance of general obligation bonds up to $4.5 million for financing public infrastructure improvements in the city. 

Several projects were identified:  Second Avenue urbanization and drainage improvements, 14th Street and Carlisle storm sewer improvements as well as some downtown alleys and parking lots. Others listed include Gary Street/Veterans Parkway, North Main Street resurfacing and the 14th Street truck route improvements. 

Following a 30-day comment period, council will vote on a parameters ordinance at the October 22 meeting. 

“As long as the potential bond issuance falls within those parameters, we move forward and can issue the bonds if they fall within the parameters,” Fiegenschuh said. 

Other business

Council approved a resolution authorizing an intergovernmental agreement between the Rochelle Elementary School District and the city for a school resource officer. Officer James Jakimyw will start October 1 and spend up to 90 percent of the time at Rochelle Middle School and also rotating between the elementary schools. As part of the agreement, the school board agrees to pay 66 percent of the resource officer’s compensation, which includes salary, overtime, benefits and pension payments during the regular school year. The city will be responsible for the compensation during the summer.

Rochelle Municipal Utilities customers who set up a deferred payment agreement will get more time to pay on it following the approval to amend the ordinance. 

The new amount due at the start of the payment agreement is one-seventh of the amount past due with six months to pay. This is increased from the previous one-quarter down payment and three months to pay. RMU supervisor Barbara Bell said that over 100 people had defaulted on their agreements this year. 


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