August 16, 2017
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Reducing city debt

By: Katheine Minkiewicz
July 28, 2017

This week’s Rohnert Park City Council meeting met to discuss several city housekeeping items, such as accepting bills and city demands which were presented by city staff, to approve the final map for the new Five Creek Subdivision and negotiate price and methods of payment of Labath Avenue for the Stadium Rohnert Park developers, which was discussed in closed session.

One such of these city demands and bills, included recommending a resolution that would direct both the city manager and director of finance to initiate “the sale and issuance of City of Rohnert Park Sewer System revenue refunding bonds,” and to refinance the city’s sewer system, according to Rohnert Park Director of Finance Betsy Howze.

This assurance, refund of city bond certificates and refinance would help the city pay off the current debt from the bonds that were used for sewer maintenance and improvements and would save the city approximately $90,000 per year. 

“Due to prevailing financial conditions, it is in the best interest of the city to refund the 2005 certificates. The new bonds are tax exempt and would refund all of the outstanding 2005 certificates… and would mature in 2036 (which add up to an outstanding balance of around 9.97 million dollars),” Howze said during her report.  

City Council member Amy O. Ahanotu said of the report and the agenda item, “Thank you staff for looking out and finding ways to save the city money, not just for today, but in the years to come.”

The need to increase the allotment of funds to various charities from the Casino Mitigation Fund was also discussed. 

A need to increase the allotment of funds distributed by Graton to local organizations of its choosing for the 2017-2018 fiscal year is due to the fact that the tribe initially did not give a clear direction as to how and how much monies from the fund would be disbursed, consequently causing the city to not set aside extra funds for expenditures, according to Director of Finance Betsy Howze.

“We budgeted these non-guaranteed revenues in the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget, because we received the first quarter non-guaranteed money in May. We did not have direction from the tribe on how to disburse the monies, so we did not include expenditures appropriations for disbursement,” Howze said.

Allotting money from the mitigation fund for charitable donations is part of the Memorandum of Understanding established in April of 2013 between the City of Rohnert Park and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to mitigate impacts the casino may cause the city, according to the agenda item packet.

Howze said this aspect of the MOU was established in order to allot a specific amount of money to give back to organizations as well as “community investment purposes.”

“The city negotiated that some of the mitigation funding should go to Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District and local charities. The MOU allots a piece of non-guaranteed contributions to community investment purposes, these purposes include; Rohnert Park Foundation, Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, City of Rohnert Park for Neighborhood Improvement/Workforce Housing and the Tribe Charity. The tribe charity portion of community investment contributions are designated by the tribe per the MOU,” Howze explained.

She also emphasized that this action wouldn’t have any fiscal impact for the city and that the monies for the fund and increase are received through the State Gambling Control Commission.

Later in the meeting, the Sonoma County Veteran of the Year, Robert Safreno was presented with a Certificate of Recognition by Mayor Jake Mackenzie.

Safreno was recognized in June as the veteran of the year and as previously reported by the Voice, is a retired Air Force officer and a Vietnam War veteran and flew “240 combat missions as the navigator of a C-119 Gunship.”


Following the presentation of the certificate, Chief Brian Masterson of Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety gave a briefing on RP’s National Night Out, a public relations police and fire event, where games, raffles, shows and police demonstrations will take place this evening.

Chief Masterson also reminded council members of major road impacts due to this Saturday’s Ironman triathlon, which will go through major roadways of RP.

According to a press release on the event, “Traffic will be impacted by the closing of the Highway 101 southbound Golf Course Drive/Wilfred Avenue off ramp,” as well as the “101 Southbound on/off ramp,” which will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.