Antrim refinances bonds, compiles list for exemptions

PAT FRIDGEN

The refinancing for Antrim Township's 2005 and 2006 Series bonds should save the township $581,000 in cash and $1.09 million in overall costs, as determined by the Board of Supervisors and financial consultants Jan. 25. The board approved a plan submitted by The Public Financial Management Group and Eckert Seamans on getting a good deal for the $9.01 million at stake in the two bonds issued for Antrim Township Municipal Authority.

"This turned out better than we ever thought it would," said Gregg McLanahan from PFM. He had crunched the numbers on the seven returned proposals, and a loan from Bank of America was the most beneficial. It offered a fixed 2.72 percent interest rate. Presently Antrim is paying escalating rates that would have topped at 4.35 percent in 2025, and 4 percent in 2021, respectively. The 2011 rates were 3.05 and 3.45 percent. Antrim's savings was boosted to the million dollar range because it would begin to earn more in investment interest than it was paying out on debt.

The debt would be paid off five years earlier and could be refinanced in 2015 if it was practical, said McLanahan.

He revealed that Bank of America's offer saved nearly $150,000 more than the next best bid, and was $245,000 better than another bond issue.  

In conjunction with the refinancing approval, the board will terminate the leaseback agreement of the sewer plant with ATMA, and enter into a simple lease agreement. The action is required based on the type of financing it accepted.

Water system sale

Township administrator Brad Graham submitted the names of residents in three developments supervisors thought could be affected by the sale of the ATMA water system to Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority. The sale is in the final stage of negotiations. Supervisors are split on whether residents in the Hess development, on Bemisderfer Road and Hykes Road, should be exempt from Antrim's mandatory connection ordinance regarding public water.

The list contained 10 properties in Hess, six on Bemisderfer and 19 on Hykes. Chairman Sam Miller said he thought only the ATMA customers could be exempt, as Hess was involved through GAFCWA. Those residents had already been offered eight years to connect when a new line was installed in 2008.

Graham cautioned that Greencastle might not agree with the full list.

Discussion centered on protecting buyers of any of the homes, so they didn't discover too late that they would have to connect to public water if the current owner hadn't already done so. Miller pointed out that the ordinance had no exemption clause, so if any were granted to today's owners, future owners would want the same. Solicitor John Lisko said an index at the courthouse could identify any details, and it would show up in a title search.

Supervisor Fred Young III, also a resident in Hess, said, "We should let the (Greencastle) authority craft this. We're interfering in their business in this regard."

In the past he has supported exemption for Hess properties.

Miller, James Byers, Rick Baer and Curtis Myers voted that their preference was that the 36 owners could be exempt if new owners were notified of the issue prior to the sale of the home. Young abstained.

A meeting

Eleven minutes of arguing ensued between Young and Miller when Miller reached the agenda item of scheduling a meeting with a representative of Norfolk Southern, Sen. Rich Alloway and Rep. Todd Rock. Miller wanted to try to elicit more funds to upgrade the Williamsport Pike and Hykes Road intersection, once Milnor Road was closed due to the construction of an NS terminal.

Young did not see the value of another meeting, since all had said no. "We're badgering and bullying these entities, and it's a waste of time," he said.

Byers thought it was important to meet with elected officials, since Norfolk Southern was bringing negative byproducts into the township, as well as positive.

Since prior responses indicated PennDOT would approve a flashing light at the intersection but traffic studies did not substantiate anything greater, Miller acknowledged that Antrim would have to pay for greater safety measures. NS had said it would support seeking more funds.

"We can't surrender before we start to fight," Miller said.

A Feb. 1 afternoon meeting was tentatively set. Citizen Robert Wertime appreciated that Norfolk Southern would appear and he wanted the public kept in the loop.

Other business

Attorney Don Kornfield appeared on behalf of Creative Investments, which owned land in Nottingham Meadows. The company was out of the construction business and therefore wanted to sell off lots individually. Though past stormwater management issues had apparently been solved with the drainage system installed, Myers was concerned that any separate lot owner could create a problem. He preferred one person be accountable. The board agreed and denied the request.

Graham informed the supervisors that PennDOT was planning to combine Atapco's Exit 3 realignment with its own interstate bridge deck replacement, and would therefore take over some of Antrim's responsibilities.

The board approved salary increases for fulltime employees. Graham had recommended 3 percent for everyone, but the board gave raises from 2 to 4 percent based on merit.

Citizen Mike Stevens asked about any township ordinance on diesel idling, an issue brought up by residents at previous meetings. He said an NS engine had idled for three days near his home.

Miller announced that he had returned the press conference to the agenda. It was removed June 9, 2009, when Myers was chair.