City council: Golf course agreement approved

Budget and capital improvement plan approved

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ROCHELLE – At its meeting Monday, the Rochelle City Council unanimously approved an amendment to its intergovernmental agreement with the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District to extend the organizations' joint ownership of Fairways Golf Course by one year until the end of the 2024 golf season.

The city and park district have partnered to own and operate the golf course for the past seven years. The previous agreement expired at the end of the 2023 season. Staff proposed to extend the agreement for an additional year, during which a survey will be done to establish a capital improvement plan for the course before a multi-year agreement will be looked at in fall 2024. 

The agenda item at the meeting said the rounds at Fairways Golf Course have "increased steadily each year" and rounds were over 15,000 in 2023, the highest number ever. 

During the early years of the joint ownership agreement, the city and park district each contributed $75,000 to the golf fund to cover any deficit. In 2022, the entities each decreased contributions to $60,000 due to the improved financial position of the course. In 2023, the deficit was decreased to approximately $40,000 with the remainder of the two contributions being utilized for capital projects.

"I think it's a very good example of how taxing bodies can work together to provide a good service," City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said. "I would commend the park district's leadership and staff. It really is a great facility and we are going to everything we can to continue to make it the premier golf course in the northern part of the state."

Budget

The council held a public hearing for and unanimously approved its fiscal year 2024 budget and yearly 20-year capital improvement plan. 

The final proposed general fund revenues are budgeted at $14,051,480, representing an increase of approximately five percent compared to the original approved 2023 budget. Budgeted expenses total $14,043,345, which is approximately four percent lower than the 2023 budget. This results in a budget surplus of $8,135. The combination of the General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, Enterprise Funds, Internal Service Funds, Trust and Agency Funds, and Capital Project Funds results in budgeted revenues of $116,134,255 and budgeted expenses of $125,523,274.

The city’s capital improvement plan (CIP) is a multi-year planning instrument for the evaluation and identification of the capital infrastructure projects in need of renovation, repair, and/or construction along with the equipment or vehicle replacement over the next 20 years.

Bonds

The council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the issuance of general obligation bonds not to exceed $2.5 million for the purpose of paying for infrastructure projects in the downtown area. 

City staff have identified several infrastructure projects including, but not limited to, the purchase and demolition of property, property redevelopment, installation of infrastructure including streets, curb and gutter, water mains, sewer lines and storm sewers, installation of new street lighting and the installations and burying of electric infrastructure. 

The city chose to issue the bonds to hedge against future rising project prices, taking advantage of current low interest rates. The debt service payments will be paid out of Downtown and Southern Gateway tax increment financing (TIF) district revenues. The bonds will have a maximum six percent interest rate, and a term of no longer than 17 years. The city will have three years to spend the funds. 

"I think the key part of this is that we get some projects done and we kind of hedge against inflation of 3-10 percent every year that makes the cost of projects go up," Mayor John Bearrows said. "I think it only makes sense to hedge against inflation. Three years from now we'll be ahead of the game by far with it only being a six percent interest rate."

Property

The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the sale of half the ownership of property located at 916 S. Main St. to the Ogle-Lee Fire Protection District for $50,000.

The city jointly owns a new fire training facility with the OLFPD at 920 S. Main St. In March 2023, the city purchased the neighboring parcel of approximately three acres to the north located at 916 S. Main St. from the Catholic Church for $125,000 for the purpose of acquiring right of way for a future road improvement project. Since then, City Engineer Sam Tesreau determined what easements are needed for the future road improvement and recorded an updated plat for the property. The Board of Trustees for the OLFPD approached the city requesting to purchase half the ownership of the remaining property to allow any future expansion of the joint training facility located on the neighboring parcel to the south for $50,000.