TALLADEGA — The Talladega City Council voted 5-0 Monday evening to approve a bond refinance proposal from Piper Sandler in spite of the proposal resulting in the smallest amount of savings among the three received.

According to City Manager Beth Cheeks, the refinance proposals would be for the tax free Water and Sewer Department bonds issued in 2010. Raymond James, the current bond broker, submitted a proposal that included taxable bonds issued in 2015, which would have resulted in overall savings of $5,183,239.

San Blas Securities submitted a plan covering only the 2010 bonds that would have resulted in savings of $3,276,436, while the Piper Sandler proposal would save $3,084,571.

The proposals were discussed at a previous council meeting, but no action was taken. 

Monday night, Councilwoman Betty Spratlin objected that the minutes from the previous meeting did not contain her characterization of the various proposals as “apples and oranges.”

Spratlin questioned the discrepancy further Monday, asking Cheeks for an explanation. Cheeks reassured Spratlin and the other council members that all three bond brokers had been presented with the same information and asked for the same proposal.

Raymond James has handled the city’s bond issues for many years, Cheeks said, and is more familiar with the city’s finances than the other two, but all three brokers had gotten the exact same information.

By combining the taxable and tax exempt bond issues, Cheeks said, Raymond James was able to achieve greater savings than the other two.

The purpose of seeking the proposals from different companies is to let each devise its own strategy, and the city cannot direct the company to pursue a specific strategy.

Spratlin then made a motion to instruct Piper Sandlin to devise a strategy similar to the one presented by Raymond James, involving both bond issues. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Vickie Robinson Hall and ultimately carried by a vote of 5-0.

Former University of Alabama quarterback Walter Lewis had made the initial pitch to the council for the city’s bond business earlier this year.

Also Monday, the council:

  • Heard Council President Trae Williams announce that there would be no Christmas On The Square this year;

  • Approved an alcohol license transfer for Dega Mini Mart LLC;

  • Approved a list of 13 paid holidays for the coming year;

  • Declared the Nikki-Lu Wastewater Treatment Plant surplus;

  • Extend 14 city contracts in their first or second year;

  • Accepted a $68,000 assistance to firefighters grant, with a $3,000 local match, used to buy equipment;

  • Approved a contract with Consolidated Pipe and Supply of Birmingham for equipment in the Water Department;

  • Set a work session to discuss the budget, the capital improvement plan, insurance and retirement plans, among other issues, for Monday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m.;

  • Heard Councilman Joe Power say the police chief should be asked to sign off on housing applications the way he does on applications for beer and wine licenses;

  • Heard Cheeks explain that due to COVID and scheduling issues, some employees at City Hall work slightly different hours than others, but that every office is covered between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.;

  • Heard Councilman Dr. Horace Patterson ask to the see the register of applicants for a position on the Human Resources Department;

  • Discussed cleaning out ditches and other city property as part of a larger anti-litter campaign;

  • Heard Power ask Cheeks to get “personally involved” with the inspectors who handle criminal littering cases;

  • Heard Cheeks explain, at the request of Mayor Timothy Ragland, that bidders on city projects must be advertised for four weeks and requires liability insurance and workers’ compensation; and

  • Approved a $500 advertisement supporting Talladega College student Brittany Wynn, who is competing in the Miss UNCF pageant.

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