Parkville ready to refinance NID debt

Riding on the heels of a positive public announcement, the Parkville Board of Aldermen will soon take action on refinancing its Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) debt. The City of Parkville issued a press release stating that Standard and Poor’s Rating Services upgraded the City’s credit rating from AA- to AA. “This upgrade to an AA rating confirms what City leaders have known for years,” Mayor Nan Johnston said in the release. “By making smart budget decisions and strategically growing reserves, we are well positioned to embrace development opportunities and confront financial challenges.” NIDs are always rated one notch below the issuer credit rating, according to the release, so the Brush Creek and Brink Meyer Road NID bonds the City plans to issue this month received an AA- rating, also an upgrade from the previous A+ rating. In the rationale for the credit rating upgrade, S&P cited Parkville’s strong local economy, healthy financial reserves, strong budgetary flexibility and strong management with good financial policies and practices. In summary, S&P stated that, “the stable outlook reflects our belief that the city will maintain very strong budgetary flexibility and liquidity in the two-year outlook horizon.” City financial advisor Michael Short of Oppenheimer Funds said S&P’s statement of a stable outlook was a key portion of the upgrade and boded well for the sale of the NID bonds this week. The Parkville Finance Committee heard an update Monday from Short and Bryan Kidney of Springsted on the upcoming bond sale, to be finalized May 20. The principal amount of the Brush Creek bond issue is estimated at about $5.5 million and the principal amount of the Brink Meyer bond issue is estimated at $3.9 million. Short said it was premature to conjecture on the final sales, but said several local banks had shown interest. The Finance Committee also approved execution of a maintenance contract with Noel Derr of Handy Derr Service for $3,500 for mowing and upkeep of the Old Parkville Cemetery. The history of Derr’s relationship to the cemetery as well as the City’s relationship to the cemetery seems to be up for debate, but City Administrator Lauren Palmer said she had been researching the details. Derr said he has provided maintenance work at the cemetery for more than 30 years, at the behest of a cemetery board. “The history of the Cemetery Board is not well documented,” Palmer said, though a City code referring to establishment of the Board was found. “The Board is apparently defunct because meetings have not been posted nor new appointments made in some time, although there are at least two residents who appear to have some history and interest.” Those residents contacted Palmer earlier this year, informing her the Board’s bank account was empty and it required City funding to pay Derr for his work for the year. Cemetery maintenance has been budgeted at $3,500 annually since 2005, and Assistant City Administrator Sean Ackerson said he recalled past transfers made to the Cemetery Board account – which was a private account overseen by the Board. As this practice doesn’t allow the City immediate oversight of the public funds involved, Palmer suggested the Board close the account and Derr invoice the City directly for his services. Why the City pays for the cemetery upkeep is also somewhat of a mystery, as Palmer and Ackerson said they had yet to locate paperwork determining actual ownership of the old cemetery off Highway 9. “I did find a cemetery agreement from the 1890s,” Palmer said. “In that, it says interested people could come to City Hall and purchase a plot in the cemetery for $3.” Alderman David Jones noted that such an arrangement is fairly common in older communities and since Memorial Day is quickly approaching that the City could approve the contract now and investigate the particulars during the course of the year, a sentiment with which the committee members agreed.