The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

October 31, 2013

Concerns over Blakesburg debt obligations aired at meeting


Of special note is the unauthorized over payment of more than $2,500 to Burton during his administration. To date he has made no repayment. During audience comment time, Patty Rowland presented an in-depth rebuttal, first commenting that according to the recent audit report concerning the Burton administration financial records were not kept in accordance with generally recognized accounting principals and lacked appropriate checks and balances. Using public documents obtained from the city, Rowland challenged some of the figures listed in the petition and why they were listed as a debt service issue.

According to Burton, substantial capital spending such as the $41,000 police car, $80,000 firetrucks, $700,000 sewer project and $24,000 water tower work along with pre-existing debt obligations may have exceeded city maximum debt service allowable by law. Debt service is the cash required for a particular time period to cover the repayment of interest and principal on a debt. The Iowa Constitution limits the amount of general obligation debt to 5 percent of the assessed value of all taxable property within the city’s corporate limits. The city’s total debt service load of only $62,000 for fiscal year 2012-13 was well below the $210,070 allowed Blakesburg in the same fiscal year. Rowland explained the police car and firetruck totals of $66,622.80 financed over five years are well below the $121,000 amount noted in Burton’s concerns.

According to Rowland, Burton’s worry concerning the $24,000 water tower project plus related expenses was also irrelevant because the bills were paid outright and no debt was incurred.

None of the $700,000 sewer project goes toward debt service because it is totally funded with grants and SRF loans, Rowland explained.

Addressing Burton’s concern about cemetery funding, Rowland commented for the first time in many years the cemetery fund was projected to begin operating “in the black.” The October 2011 deficit of $8,907 had been wiped out. Rowland offered anyone who was interested the opportunity to review the numerous documents she had obtained from city hall to support her comments.

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