Kingston delays USDA loan decision
by Jason Lowrey
Aug 14, 2012 | 1675 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Any decision on Kingston accepting a $1.3 million loan and $981,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will depend on the city’s water rates. To pay back the loan, City Attorney Peter Olson said during the council’s Monday night meeting, the USDA will require Kingston to set water rates at an appropriate level to ensure the city can meet its monthly payments.

“My understanding of USDA loans is that they’ll structure programs so you have the money to pay it back,” he said. “They’ll insist the water rates be sufficient to service the loan. So the USDA doesn’t let you get over your head.” 

During last week’s work session, council member Edward Miklas said he was concerned the city would default while attempting to pay back the loan. Current estimates put the monthly payment at $4,700 over a 40-year period. The loan would cover necessary repairs and overhauls to Kingston’s water utilities.

While Miklas said he understood the USDA would not allow the city to default, he also said he was concerned about how much more residents would have to pay each month on their water bill. Until the council knew how large the increase would be, he did not want to vote on accepting the loan. Council member Harold Posey agreed.

Council member Chuck Wise, however, pressed the council to approve the loan. He said it was vital for Kingston to start moving forward and making progress.

“I have the opportunity to work all over Bartow County and I see progress being made in all those other cities and communities. I actually feel like, as being a citizen and representing the community, we’re left behind on some of these things,” Wise said. “We’re not going to make the right decision every time when it comes to spending money.

“People elected us to do a job to the best of our ability and when it comes to spending money you’re not going to make the right decision. You don’t make the right decision in your own home. If you did, we’d all be millionaires. I’m about us trying to make progress in our community. ... It’s got to be done. It’s got to be done for progress.”

Miklas and Posey agreed Kingston needed to make progress, but they both said they still wanted to wait and see what residents would pay on their water bills.

Pending a water rate review, the council tabled accepting the USDA loan.

The council approved Interim Police Chief Clay Patterson’s request to hire one reserve police officer. Patterson said any applicants would be required to go through an interview, drug test, background check and polygraph test before they can be hired. Reserve officers will be required to furnish their own firearms, but the city will provide them with one uniform. Patterson said he could use existing uniforms or purchase new ones by using the department’s $1,500 supply budget.

An agreement also was approved with Bartow County Campus Police where the campus police will trade new portable radios for Kingston’s marijuana testing equipment. The campus police also will test suspected marijuana for the city, which will cut down the waiting time for tests Patterson said.

Other council business included: 

• Setting Kingston’s millage rate at 23.29 mills and rolling the rate back to zero.

• Approving the purchase of a new narrow-band base radio and antenna for the police department in the sum of $935 from the general fund.

• Tabling a vote on employee health insurance.

The Kingston City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. at city hall.