published Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Cleveland, Tenn., leaders studying debt, garbage

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland officials are considering options for debt service management and waste disposal services.

On Monday, the Cleveland City Council decided to postpone a vote to accept an offer from BB&T -- the city's current banking partner -- with new terms on a three-year line of credit intended to reduce Cleveland's debt-related expenses by $84,000 annually. Instead, the city may bid out the line of credit service.

However, BB&T officials said the bidding process could amount to $150,000 in costs for Cleveland.

"If you try to open it up so other banks can bid, it's almost like a new bond issue," Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel said, citing advice received from a banking official.

Councilman Bill Estes asked that city financial officers verify the bidding process costs.

In other financial news, the city likely will have to wait a couple of years before it can restructure its fixed-rate debt, said John Harris, senior vice president of corporate banking for BB&T. Of Cleveland's $21 million in publicly sold bond debt, about $10 million, which was issued in 2005, will be eligible for tax-exempt refunding in 2015.

The city also is preparing to bid out its solid waste collection services, with a stated goal of making the process as transparent and simple as possible.

Services to be contracted will have a five-year term and include residential garbage pickup and collection of commercial waste and recyclables. The service provider also will maintain a site for Cleveland's Public Works Department to drop off debris it collects.

Bids are expected to be opened May 14, officials said. Cleveland's current agreement with Waste Connections will expire Dec. 31, per a recent City Council vote not to pursue a five-year renewal option.

Contracted waste management services will be similar to what Cleveland has now, meaning that residential curbside recycling -- a service cut several years ago -- will not return in the near future.

"I'm not sure the general public out there is committed to it," Councilman Richard Banks said.

Participation in the city's former curbside recycling service amounted to around 9 percent of Cleveland households, Casteel said. Although curbside recycling pickup is not on the table now, she said the city does contribute $20,000 annually to Bradley County's recycling program, which includes two drop-off sites -- one on Peerless Road and another on Urbane Road.

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