Geneseo Council hears costs of cold snap, bonding of Pension

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic
Geneseo City Hall

The Geneseo Council met Tuesday February 23 in the City Hall.

Mike McClain, the CEO of Geneseo Communications, gave a brief presentation regarding the expansion of fibre optic cable being laid within the city. They would like Geneseo to be able to consider themselves a Smart Tech city, with modern communication available, and a tech mecca for the Work From Home telecommuter. They expect to have the whole city completed by sometime in October. Their website includes a page showing the ETA to my House, as to the expected time various neighborhoods will be connected. Subscribers can be connected with speeds up to 1G.

Public comments included a number of local citizens who voiced concerns over the Council's impending vote on Video gaming that was to take place later in the meeting. Eleven residents made commentary, either in person, or via email to Jo Hollenkamp, City Administrator. Zack Sullivan, in his statement to the Council, had taken a poll among businesses who would qualify for the gaming liand found the majority supported it. Chris Lehman, local bar and grill owner, also came forward in support of the measure, stating that it would keep people who enjoyed that activity in town, likely to eat and drink at those establishments. All the others who stepped forward voiced an opposition to the measure, citing that it would change what makes Geneseo attractive.

Eric Rowold, Director of Electrical Operations for the City, discussed an issue that arose during the extended cold snap. The City was asked to run their generators for approximately 133 hours, utilizing 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel to produce 361 MWz.  The prolonged cold snap had created a spike in the energy costs.  Wholesale energy cost is normally between $20 - $40 MWh, During the cold snap we saw Day Ahead pricing as high as $511 MWh and real time pricing as high as $973 MWh. The increase in wholesale energy will not be passed on the customers. Running the generators allowed the City to produce cheaper electricity than was available on the MISO market. When asked by one council member if any of the issues that occurred in Texas could affect Geneseo's power production, Rowold stated that they had an issue with one heater that did not work, but that winterization of the equipment is key, which keeps Geneseo's working.

Bonding of the outstanding police pension was approved.  John Venzetti, a representative of Bernardi Securities, a municipal bonding company, The current pension shortfall, which must be funded at 90% by 2034 would be paid for by bonds, which would level out the expected payments.  The other plus for bonding the pension shortfall, would be saving interest amounting to somewhere between $2 M and $2.5 M over the life of the bond.  The timeline would have the Bond Ordinance ready for the Council to vote on by the May 11 meeting. 

A vote was taken on the purchase of a used mower that would cost $15,000, and only had 220 hours on it. The advantage to purchasing this mower now, rather than wait, was the low hours and the fact that the mower would interchange with the cab on one already owned by the City. There is no guarantee that next year's model would do that. Also a new John Deere mower for the cemetery will be purchased at a cost of $8126. Funds will come out of the Cemetery account.

Red door tags will be discontinued by the utility department. Currently the water department contacts the resident 3 times before the water is shut off.

Yard waste will continue to be outsourced through Republic. The contract with Republic will be renewed. Research shows that Kewanee does theirs in house, but there is no profit. The cost for yard waste bags will change from $3 each to $1.50.

The Council adjourned to Executive Session