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Commissioners hear request from Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water

WORTHINGTON -- A request from Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water to complete an advance crossover refund of bonds issued in 2006 was tabled by Nobles County commissioners during their meeting Tuesday.

Mark Johnson, the new chief executive officer of LPRW, and Mike Bubany, with David Drown Associates, Spring Valley, had sought approval to refinance the debt and capture a potential savings of more than $510,000 after issuance expenses are paid.

"In 2006, Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water took advantage of a financing option through a pooled debt program from Minnesota Rural water," Bubany said. While the debt is not callable at this time, he said the county could move forward with advanced refunding as the LPRW continues to make payments on the bond.

Bubany said the purpose of doing the advanced refunding would be to lock in "incredibly low" interest rates. Because of the uncertainty of rates rising or lowering, he wanted to get the advance completed as soon as possible.

However, Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson had several questions about the advance, and said he hadn't yet had an opportunity to go over the request with the county's bond counsel, Dorsey & Whitney.

"A number of yellow flags were raised," Johnson told commissioners. "We have some concerns."

Johnson said it wasn't explained how other participating counties would be affected because of a regional agreement that's in place. He also said he was concerned about the impact an advance refund would have on the county's bond rating.

"We need to know the impact on that because we're looking at bonding some projects, including a new library," he said. "We need to get bond counsel involved."

"I don't know how we can even make an informed decision this morning," added board chairman Bob Demuth Jr.

Bubany said because this is refinancing, not new money, it "shouldn't affect your bond rating at all." He had hoped for approval from the board Tuesday to approve a set sale resolution, which would move the process forward and result in another request by the county's May 21 meeting to adopt the final resolution.

Instead, commissioners tabled action on the matter indefinitely and advised staff to connect with bond counsel to discuss the proposal.

In other action, the board:

- Received an update from Johnson on the Worthington branch of the Nobles County Library building proposal. He said Vetter-Johnson is working on a fit plan for transforming the county's public works facility on Diagonal Road into a new library.

The architectural firm has determined that there is a "fit potential," Johnson said, and is now looking at costs. Johnson said he hoped to have a report for commissioners at the May 7 meeting. He also said the city has expressed interest in working with the county on a new public works facility, and has a couple of properties that have potential for the project.

- Received an update from Nobles County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Ed Lenz. The district is working on numerous projects, including sediment basins, septic systems, waterways, farmstead windbreaks, feedlot improvements and drainage projects.

SWCD Supervisor Paul Langseth asked the county to consider an increase in its funding to the SWCD, saying that $30,000 had to be taken from reserves this year to do its projects.

"We're asking the county to increase our base budget to take some of the pressure off the watersheds -- an additional $10,000 to $15,000 if that's available," Langseth said. Additional staff would also help get more projects on the ground and allow the SWCD to apply for more grant dollars, he added.

- Approved a resolution between Nobles County and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to access $528,000 in multi-lender money. The funds are available to landowners as low-interest loans to complete Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) projects.

- Approved conditional use permits for the following, upon recommendation from the county's planning and zoning commission: Rick Bullerman, Adrian, to construct a total confinement barn in Lismore Township; Chris Wieneke, Adrian, to construct a total confinement barn in Lismore Township; Don DeKam, Chandler, for an after-the-fact permit for a total confinement barn in Leota Township; Bullerman Farms, Adrian, to construct a calf barn in Little Rock Township; and Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water, Lake Benton, to construct a water metering building in Worthington Township.

- Met Adam Johnson, the new assistant county attorney. Johnson will work in child protection and juvenile delinquency areas. A native of Menahga, he previously worked in the Arizona office of the Attorney General, doing child protection work.

- Approved advertisement for bids for pavement marking services.

- Received an update from Jan Voit, Heron Lake Watershed District Administrator. The HLWD will do three shoreline restoration projects within the watershed this year, and is gathering information for a potential flood control project in Seward Township.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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

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