Stifel advises Lebanon mayor about city’s low bond rating

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – Lebanon Mayor Rich Wilken recently heard back from Stifel Public Finance about the status of the city’s bond rating. The mayor enlisted the firm to perform the inquiry in an effort to move forward with a joint facility for city hall and the Lebanon Public Library. 

In a December city council meeting, the council voted 5-3 against a $4.16 million dollar referendum for a new 10,000 square foot public library facility at 318 S. Fritz. The building was formerly St. Joseph’s grade school, and needed environmental and structural repair, in addition to design elements, new materials and more. 

After George Fero, Sr. presented to the council at the December meeting on behalf of the library board, Alderman Bart Bartholomew said “We need a new City Hall, too. Why couldn’t that be combined? If we build a new City Hall, we would have to have another bond issue. We could combine them to have one bond.”

When the referendum failed to get the council’s approval, Wilken took audience suggestions to start a committee to look into feasibility of a joint use facility. Volunteers from the community and city council spoke up to join the committee, and Wilken had plans to seek more volunteers. 

He then took Bartholomew’s comment and decided to enlist Stifel to see what the city’s rating would be for a bond for a facility. The nearly month-long review recently returned to the mayor’s desk

“They advised me that there are ten standard bonding levels, starting at AAA…. We are sitting in their estimates, looking at our last three years, we have qualified for a triple A three. Out of the ten classes, we are in the ninth category,” Wilken explained. 

He continued that the representative from Stifel said “It’s not terrible for a city of your size, and we aren’t at a junk bond status, but he said obviously, the level that you’re at can have some effect on the interest rates. As we look further into this, that’s information that the committee needs to be aware of.”

Wilken said the next step is to continue seeking volunteers for the committee, discussing the use of bonds and more intricate details of the possible joint use facility. City Treasurer Paul Grob had to leave the meeting early, and there was no further discussion from the council on the status of the city’s bond rating.