City Manager: Referendum will not increase taxes, fees

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Residents and City Council members attending a recent town hall meeting to discuss an upcoming referendum seeking to refinance four existing loans and save the City $910,267.

HARRINGTON — A debt refinancing referendum was the topic of discussion among residents and Harrington city officials at a town hall meeting held at the Price Community Center on Thurs., July 16.

The referendum will be scheduled for Tues., Sept. 15, according to City Manager Terry Tieman, and will seek approval to refinance four existing loans without extending their current repayment schedule. The City Council will hear a first resolution regarding the referendum on Mon., July 20 at its regular meeting, and a public hearing and second reading seeking approval during its Mon., Aug. 17 meeting.

Ms. Tieman reassured the crowd of about 15 residents that no tax or fee increases will incur as a result of the refinance. In fact, she said, the City will save just over $910,000 which will be reinvested in other capital improvement projects.

The four loans are the oldest debts for the City, and have the highest interest rates at 4.5 percent for three of them and 3.25 percent for one. The Clean Water Advisory State Revolving fund will refinance those loans with two percent interest rates.

“It isn’t often that you have the chance to save $910,267,” City Solicitor William Pepper said. Residents in attendance seemed as optimistic, although confused as to why a referendum needed to occur to save citizens money.

This, Ms. Tieman said, is mandated by the City charter and acknowledged some concerns suggesting a referendum regardless of reasoning causes residents alarm.

“You can associate it with refinancing your own home loan. If the interest rate goes lower, the smart thing to do would be a refinance,” Mayor Anthony Moyer said.

Harrington resident Cynthia Carley was happy to hear of the upcoming referendum and even offered her own support in spreading the word.

“The City hasn’t done much for the City in the past 15 years, especially after the 49 percent tax increase. For a single parent, that was like a slap in the face,” she said. “I would take these [brochures] around town in a heartbeat. We have a lot of elderly people who don’t use the computer and a lot of people don’t even pick up their newspapers. What they’re doing to get the information out isn’t working, so I’d be happy to help.”

Residents and City officials in attendance hope to spread the message of the positives this referendum can bring between now and September to earn a ‘yes’ vote.

“This is probably the lowest interest rate we’ll be able to get. Its’ a real opportunity,” Ms. Tieman said. “A vote for the referendum is a vote to save $910,000.”

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