City Council Virtual Meetings

Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield said at last Tuesday's meeting of City Council that the city code had not had substantial language about virtual meetings prior to this year.

FAIRMONT — The city of Fairmont is going to be saving about $2 million by refinancing bonds that funded upgrades to the city water and sewer system in the 1990s. The bonds were originally set to cost a total of about $25 million.

At last Tuesday's meeting, Fairmont City Council passed a resolution that set the bond payment amount, and allows those payments to be made electronically.

"What this one does, this just allows for the payments to be made electronically," said Fairmont City Clerk Janet Keller. "We're still making payments on the bonds. The refinancing of the bonds this way, they can be done by electronic transfer and they don't have to send a check into the municipal bond commission."

John Stump, a representative from Steptoe and Johnson law firm, told the council how the refinancing would save the city money, due to a change in the amount of interest the municipality will be paying annually on the bonds.

"This is a refinancing very similar to home refinancing, the purpose of which is simply to save interest costs," Stump said. "The bond issue pays off in July of 2029; the total annual savings ranges a little bit from $383,000 to $ 388,000 and change."

According to Keller, the resolution basically finishes off the necessary adjustments council had to make to refinance the bonds.

"It actually sets the rates," Keller said. "It goes hand-in-hand with the refinancing that we already did."

Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield said he was happy to hear about the potential savings to the city through the refinancing.

"We always love to save money," Merrifield said. "It's a good bit, too."

Also at the meeting, the council passed an ordinance allowing for meetings to be held virtually, if the situation calls for it. Merrifield said that although city council has been having meetings in-person after having several via the Zoom platform, the need to revert to this method could arise at any time.

"It makes it legal... based upon the current numbers that we're facing to allow people that are concerned about the COVID to be able to do it remotely," Merrifield said. "Typically, people who may have pre-existing conditions and whatnot or older people, more senior citizens... you need that flexibility, because if you're just trying to keep everybody healthy, it gives you another tool."

Email Eddie Trizzino at etrizzino@timeswv.com and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

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News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.

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