By Shelia Tomkins
At its regular monthly meeting on May 5, the Guttenberg city council moved forward on issuing bonds to finance the Acre Street project, purchase a fire truck and to refinance existing debt.
Mayor Russ Loven, council members Virginia Saeugling, Fred Schaub, Dave Schlueter and Jane Parker and City Manager Mary Willett were in attendance.
No comments were received at a public hearing on the issuance of general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $1,075,000. Michael Hart from Northland Securities gave a presentation on the bond purchase agreement, and noted an approximate savings of $35,000 by refinancing existing debt.
Discussion continued from last month's meeting regarding the purchase of a new ambulance for Guttenberg Municipal Hospital. Last month the council okayed financing $141,000 toward the purchase of the ambulance, which left a shortfall of $12,762 from the purchase price. The hospital board subsequently offered to fund half of the deficit from hospital funds, provided as a no-interest loan to the city. Minutes from the hospital board meeting noted that concern was expressed that the city do a better job of budgeting. "That hit a few sore spots," noted the city manager.
Councilman Schlueter said, "I think that comment is unfair." He noted that the city doesn't control the specs of the purchase, and that the funds set aside were within 7%. "If we overbudget then another service gets cut," he said.
Discussion then turned to expanding healthcare costs, the financial pressures the city is facing, accounting methods used to determine the ambulance service's profitability, the city's contract with the hospital, the hospital's affiliation plans and the difficulty of running an ambulance department.