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Nobles County’s bond rating improves to AA+

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County commissioners learned Tuesday that the county’s bond rating has improved by two steps, from an AA- to an AA+, by Standard and Poor’s. The improved rating means the county can access a lower interest rate on future projects.

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George Eilertson of Northland Securities, the county’s bond counsel, said the higher rating was due to the amount of money the county has in reserves, as well as the longevity of its reserve fund.

“You’re at very strong reserves (182 percent), with moderate debt,” Eilertson said. “That is music to their ears.”

In addition to strong reserves, he said the county has the ability to transfer funds from one area to another.

“The higher you get on the bond rating ladder, the lower the interest rates,” he said. “A two-notch upgrade was certainly noticeable, with $60,000 to $65,000 in additional interest cuts as a result of the rating upgrade.”

The news accompanied a request Tuesday to approve $2.91 million in general obligation water revenue refunding bonds for the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System. By doing a refunding at this time, the county is projected to save $17,261 per year for the life of the bonds. The bonds are slated to be paid off in 2032.

The county initially financed bonds for the LPRW expansion project in 2006. While the maturity date won’t change with the refunding, the interest rate will drop from 4.12 percent to 3.2 percent.

Eilertson said the annual savings achieved with the refunding “could fix some roads.” It also gives the county the ability to finance new bonds.

“I’m all for saving money,” said board chairman Bob Demuth Jr., prior to the board’s adoption of the LPRW bond resale.

Mark Johnson, LPRW’s chief executive officer, extended his appreciation to Nobles County for assisting with the bond.

“We want to thank you for working with us,” Johnson said. “It’s a win-win situation for us.”

In other action, the board:

- Approved a conditional use permit for Great River Energy to rebuild approximately four miles of 69-kilovolt line to 115-kV standards, with conditions that the project conform to local, state and federal airport regulations and that all permits be obtained prior to construction in 2014. The line is located in portions of Worthington and Lorain townships.

- Accepted an $85,067 Natural Resources block grant for 2014 on behalf of Nobles County Environmental Services. The grant helps offset implementation costs for the comprehensive local water plan, Wetland Conservation Act, subsurface sewage treatment systems and the county feedlot program. The grant increased $34 over the 2013 grant.

- Approved a five-year contract with the city of Worthington for legal services provided by the Nobles County Attorney’s office.

- Approved a three-year contract with Greg Gruis to provide snow removal services in the county’s downtown lots, at a rate of $220 per event. Gruis, who had the previous contract for snow removal downtown, was one of two bidders on the project.

- Declared a 2001 Ford ¾-ton pickup and a self-propelled chip spreader in the Nobles County Public Works department as surplus property.

- Set a special meeting for 9 a.m. Nov. 15 to continue talks on the county budget for 2014. The county will be required to finalize its budget in early December.

- Approved a parade and event permit application from the city of Round Lake for its Winterfest events and fish house parade. The event will result in the closure of Nobles County State Aid Highway 21 from 3 to 4 p.m. Nov. 30.

- Presented Jacquelyn Weiskircher with a certificate of appreciation upon her retirement after 10 years of service in the Nobles County Attorney’s office.

- Presented Barb Williams with the Excellence in Performance award for October. Williams retired on Oct. 31.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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