Disruption at Council Meeting Leads to Short Recess

Verbal jousting between Sturgeon Bay Mayor Thad Birmingham and some of his critics during the public comment portion of the city council meeting Tuesday led to a five minute recess and the ejection of a member of the audience. The mayor was attacked by critics who contended that he was at fault for the impasse involving a waterfront hotel. At one point, the mayor countered the allegation that the city had acted unlawfully in its waterfront dealings by saying no laws had been broken. It was the second consecutive meeting that Birmingham had to counter unsubstantiated allegations. At the last meeting, one speaker suggested the city was in bad financial shape, something the mayor said had no basis in reality. During the discussion, Fish Creek resident Donald Freix was escorted from the room by a Sturgeon Bay police officer at the request of the mayor who said he was disrupting the meeting. After the five minute break, the council meeting was completed. The entire session took less than an hour.

A resolution essentially authorizing short term borrowing to cover notes related to Sturgeon Bay’s tax incremental district number four was approved on a majority vote of the city council Tuesday. Alder-persons Kelly Catarozoli and Will Gregory voted no. Brad Viegut, of the financial consulting firm of Robert W. Baird and Company, said the extremely favorable interest rate of 1.99% meant that the taxable anticipation notes being procured would be $235,000 less than the original estimate of $3,350,000. Viegut said the city’s double-a three bond rating was reaffirmed by Moody’s investors based on its financial operations characterized by strong reserves, the inclusion of a contingency line item in annual budgeting, and manageable retirement and post-employment benefits. It was noted that the city’s bond rating could improve as its tax base expands, something that future development could spur. The council action essentially covers the general obligation promissory notes that were taken out when the district was created and due in April and gives the city time to determine how to develop the west side waterfront which is encompassed by the tax incremental district. They could be in effect until 2020, but the city is hoping to engage in long-term borrowing long before that.

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