After further discussion and research this week on the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), City of Guthrie officials say that in fact they did receive written permission from legal counsel on making project changes to a $3M bond.
City Manager Leroy Alsup reached out to Guthrie News Page following an Aug. 6 article in review of the first year of the CIP sales tax. Related article: Overview of year one of the City’s Capital Improvement Projects
The City took out a $3M loan to jump-start the program and allocated $1m for engineering costs for a proposed new Waste Water Treatment Plant and $2M for renovation and upgrade to the Municipal Pool in Highland Park.
In Sept. 2016, the city council voted to delay the pool project and moved the once allocated $2M pool dollars to a ladder truck for the Guthrie Fire Department, splash pad and various other projects, including street improvements, one new basketball court, two refurbished tennis courts and a cab tractor.
At last week’s retreat, Alsup told council members “We need to go through the process if that’s not how we are going to use that $3M then we need to go back through the process and change that (bond transcripts).”
However, Alsup, at the time did not know the altered funds had ultimately already been approved by the bond counsel.
“There was a miscommunication between myself and City Staff on the use of funds borrowed to jump start the Capital Improvement Projects,” Alsup said in the email.
“The City of Guthrie had received written communications from the City’s bond counsel and special tax counsel providing guidance on substituting the ladder truck and splash pad together with the listed alternatives.”
In an email obtained by Guthrie News Page, Attorney Allan Brooks, with The Public Finance Law Group PLLC, informed City Clerk Kim Biggs that the legal counsel did okay the substitutions request.
“We think you are fine to substitute the ladder truck and splash pad together with the listed alternatives,” Brooks noted in an email dated Dec. 3, 2016.
Alsup, who took over as city manager in February, says he was not implying that the City of Guthrie had done anything illegal or underhanded.
“I simply, wanted to make sure that the I’s hand been doted and the T’s crossed as we moved forward. Apparently that had happened, but I was not initially made aware of the December 3, 2016 communication when I discussed this matter with City staff,” Alsup said.
The city manager says he apologizes for any confusion this may have had and takes these matters seriously.