Sunday, October 7, 2007






  Lost and found website
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–It was a bit of a shock when Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation members learned they had lost their website last week.
“We were floored that it happened,” Gun Barrel City EDC consultant Jack Thompson told The Monitor.
Though warned by city councilwoman Kathy Cochran about a week earlier that the website’s domain name was up for sale, EDC members were sure they had handled it.
Apparently, the person overseeing the website didn’t follow through on making the necessary payments, although he had authority from the EDC to get the name paid for, Thompson said.
“Rita (Evans, EDC secretary) did her job on what she was supposed to do,” he said.
“I don’t want to get into finger-pointing,” he added.
Work on updating the look of the website is nearly complete, and a new domain name is being secured next week, and will be managed by Thompson’s company, Orasi Development.
“I don’t want to reveal the name at this point in time,” Thompson said. “It’s not a major set back, just a minor inconvenience.”
New marketing materials are also being prepared listing the new website, he added.

Mabank obtains higher bond rating
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–Mabank has obtained $5.27 million in new construction funds without increasing its payment on existing debt through the sale of $5.4 million in bonds.
The Mabank City Council heard the good news Tuesday when Southwest Securities, Inc. senior vice president and municipal financial advisor Ken Smith made his presentation.
Funds from the general obligation note will be available Nov. 1, and may be applied to a wide variety of city projects, including upgrading the city’s water plant.
But, there’s more.
Mabank is now among the very few Texas towns with 3,000 population or less to have achieved a Baa2 rating from Moody’s Investor Services with this bond issuance.
“This is something you can celebrate. There aren’t many small towns in Texas with that good of a credit rating,” Smith said.
The higher rating means bonds the city issues become that much more attractive to investors.
In addition, Smith was able to secure AAA-rated insurance from FSA for the bonds – a feat practically unheard of among small Texas cities.
Getting the insurance accounted for about 1/2 percent decrease on the amount of interest the city is paying for the bond, Smith told The Monitor.
Smith’s 40 years as an investment banker and long experience as the city’s advisor also contributed to securing the insurance.
The boost in Moody’s credit rating was due in great part to the city’s fiduciary track record over the past five years.
The research and credibility of city administrator Louann Confer and Mabank Economic Development Corp. executive director Scott Confer were also a great help, Smith said.
He described the many interviews by phone between Moody’s and the city, recalling one conference call which lasted an hour and a half.
“I was so pleased with their (the Confers) efforts. Moody’s wanted to know if they were going to leave the city’s service anytime soon, and they answered, ‘No,’” Smith said.
“I think you’ve all done an excellent job,” Mayor Larry Teague said.
Some of the information required was the number of building permits issued over the last five years, and the value of the new property built.
Louann Confer reported 144 building permits issued and property improved to the value of $20.2 million.
She added, “We will never issue bonds at budget time again” – referring to the enormity of performing the two tasks at the same time.
According to a document from Moody’s Investors Service, other factors contributing to the rating upgrade were:
• anticipated development of several housing projects,
• expansion plans of Solar Turbines, Inc – a major taxpayer in the city
• the addition of an 8,000-square-foot commercial industrial park, and
• the city’s tax base growth of 7.5 percent annually over the past five years, to a 2008 taxable property value of $137.02 million.
The bond sale went through Monday, and funds are expected at closing Nov. 1, Smith reported.
The payback interest on the $5.4 million is set between 4.1 percent and 4.4 percent over the 25-year life of the loan.
The $3.4 million in existing debt was refinanced along with the bonds and will be paid in 18 years.
The city has been paying about $572,000 a year on the existing debt with interest fluctuating between 5 percent and 6.1 percent, Louann Confer reported..
The 4 percent interest rate brings yearly payments to $576,000, with that amount decreasing in the 19th year of the 25-year payback period, Confer said.

Mayor takes leave
Monitor Staff Reports
LOG CABIN–Log Cabin Mayor Gene Bearden asked his council for a 60-day break from his official duties Thursday.
The council granted his request.
In his absence, mayor pro-tem Linda Keener will be overseeing day-to-day city operations.
“I just need a little break,” Bearden told The Monitor.
In Log Cabin, many of the duties that typically would fall to a city administrator must be handled by the mayor.
During Bearden’s three years as mayor, the city has gotten on secure footing financially, has seen the shoreline park renovated and repaired, raised a new water tower and is currently installing a sewer system.