Thank you for your fair article on the debt issuance. I would just note that while the NAN (Note-Anticipation-Note) issue was rated lower, the water and sewer revenue bonds were rated two grades higher than expected, which was presented by Ehlers, our Financial Advisors.
Our rates were outstanding and our debt limit is not only well-managed, we have plenty of capacity. Yes, we are borrowing more debt…we have already been very clear about this and the reasons why since mid-June. Our debt levels have gone back and forth over the years depending on the projects at hand, but now it’s for “key” projects…mostly infrastructure…and once again, as always, since I assumed my position as Mayor, we have been very open and transparent in letting our residents know of what is going on.
My administration, the City Council, as well as The Joint Review Board (consisting of representatives of the Wausau School District, Marathon County, North Central Technical Institute and the City of Wausau) all agreed that this was an excellent idea for important investment to drive further job growth and all approved of this measure for the new TIF District # 11.
They all overwhelmingly feel that these investments are valuable…again, the public knows (and have known) about the additional borrowing and what it is for, since mid-June. It really is a short term increase to get these projects done for a long term “pay-off” for the foundation of our future growth.
The NAN note was primarily for the Business Campus Expansion Area infrastructure (which, respectfully stated) in your article, you did not point out. Again this additional borrowing is not for city operations, the over $6 million included the land acquisition and water, sewer, and roadway infrastructure.
We chose the NAN because this borrowing is based on land and infrastructure which values have not been assigned but there are various projects already looking at the expansion area and the major investment by Great Lakes Cheese is ongoing. They recently pulled their building permit which listed $80 million in construction value and will be adding 125 jobs. It will remain competitively priced debt when it is refinanced. The land acquisition and our debt borrowing to build that infrastructure is one of the greatest investments we can make for future growth.
Again, my administration and the Council have been clear and very open and transparent, in taking on this additional debt. This debt borrowing is an increase only given to the projects at hand, all coming together at this moment, Thomas Street, the Riverfront, and obviously the buildout of the Business Campus Expansion area. I consider these projects important and key investments in the future of the City.
With competitive rates and a strong borrowing market, the majority of the Council was confident that now was a good time to make these investments. We have not been secretive about this and have laid out our plans to get these projects done and be proactive for growth. This has been well discussed since at least mid-June and included in the approved plans for the projects.
I appreciated your kind words in other articles acknowledging the riverfront investment, these investments are already paying off for the City and our future. The foundation of all these projects was started well before my time in public office and honestly, several of the projects (such as the Thomas Street and the Riverfront projects) would have had to been dealt with, no matter who was elected Mayor… and now they need to be paid for as we build them out.
The negative outlook that had been given to the city back in June by Moody’s was removed and the city of Wausau is still now considered “Very Good” in our credit assessment. We will be upgraded in our credit rating, when all of these projects have been completed…and I am proud to be in this role to see it to completion.
Robert B. Mielke
Mayor, City of Wausau